Limerick sides seek final say

TOMORROW’S county senior football final is a reflection of the recent rise in Limerick’s football profile.

Though Dromcollogher-Broadford and Newcastlewest are amongst the oldest clubs in the county, it’s only in recent years that they’ve begun to rattle the cages of the big boys.

Newcastlewest won their first senior football county in 1987, followed it with another in 1992, while Drom-Broadford are of even more recent vintage, making their senior breakthrough just three years ago.

They won a second title in 2003, are the reigning champions, and favourites to remain so. Changing times in Limerick football, a new order. The fact that it’s a derby adds to the mix.

Neither side did themselves justice in their semi-finals, but Drom-Broadford did look more impressive with a 2-10 to 1-6 win over Monaleen, with inter-county star Michael Reidy and U-21 Sean Buckley hitting the net.

Drom-Broadford have a plethora of such stars. Tommy Stack and Jason Stokes also on the senior side, ’keeper Eamonn Scollard was Limerick netminder in the ’90s, Tom McLoughlin, Neil Conway, Gareth Noonan have minor and U21 Limerick experience.

But big names don’t win games, big performances do. That’s what Newcastlewest will look for, a big game from their own unsung 15 to erase the memory of a dismal semi-final display.

Admittedly conditions were terrible, but their 2-4 to 0-6 win over St Senan’s came late, courtesy of goals from midfielder Conor Fitzgerald and corner-forward Sean Cronin. Star forward Stephen Kelly, currently mulling over a change of codes (eircom League Cork City his likely destination), was well held in that game, his inter-county colleague Conor Mullane getting the better of their duel.

If they’re to win tomorrow, the Magpies will need the pacy Kelly to be at his goal-scoring best.

Likely winners? Newcastlewest ’keeper Joe Lee (also club vice-chairman) says Drom-Broadford are top dogs, and deservedly so.

“With two titles in the last three years, they have the experience. A lot of our lads have never played in the Gaelic Grounds, not in a game as big as this. If we relax, play our game the way we can, then we’ll be there or thereabouts. But it’s a big ask.”

His view is shared by county selector Billy Lee, a Newcastlewest man.

“The success of the county team has lifted the profile of the senior championship to a new level and everybody is putting in a huge effort,” said Lee.

“Drom are one of the best clubs in Limerick. Nobody is giving Newcastle a chance, but we like it that way. We’ve prepared well. It won’t be for the want of effort if we are beaten.”

Nice try lads, counters Drom- Broadford selector Jim Barry. “The favourites tag is a bit undeserved. Look at our results against common opponents and there’s nothing in it.

“Newcastlewest beat St Senan’s by four points in the semi-final, we only beat them by a goal in the round-robin. We’re evenly matched, if anything they’re more physical. There will be very little in this at the end.”

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