Revived Kilmallock keep county dream alive

KILMALLOCK’S pursuit of a first Limerick SHC crown in 16 years remains on track after they produced a powerful second-half display to see off Na Piarsaigh in yesterday’s semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds.

Having trailed 0-7 to 0-4 at the break, Kilmallock emerged from the dressing rooms with far greater force and potency and remarkably outscored Na Piarsaigh 2-14 to 1-1 in the second half. The removal of leading sides like Adare, Ahane and Patrickswell from the equation has enhanced Kilmallock’s credentials to secure silverware and their second-half form illustrated the strength they have to offer.

The result creates an intriguing final pairing on October 3 when Kilmallock face divisional outfit Emmetts, who draw their players from the junior and intermediate clubs that surround Kilmallock’s base.

Before that decider, there will be some investigation into rectifying elements of Kilmallock’s first-half play yesterday. They made all the early running in terms of gaining possession but translating that into scores proved problematic. The 0-3 to 0-2 lead Kilmallock enjoyed by the 15th minute didn’t reflect their dominance.

Na Piarsaigh suffered a massive blow in the fifth minute when full-back Kieran Breen was forced off with a hamstring injury and it was not until the second quarter they displayed signs of the form that brought quarter-final success over champions Adare.

The Caherdavin outfit possessed a trump card in 17-year-old Shane Dowling who made light of the rainfall to show a glacial nerve from frees. Between the 21st and 27th minutes he sliced the posts with four placed balls and added a booming effort from play.

With Na Piarsaigh’s defence successfully shackling the Mulcahy brothers, Graeme and Jake, they looked in a highly advantageous position at the interval with a 0-7 to 0-4 lead.

The events that unfolded in the second half then were extraordinary. Kilmallock always looked like mounting a strong revival but it did not seem feasible to envisage their domination given Na Piarsaigh’s first-half form. Within five minutes of the second half they wiped out Na Piarsaigh’s lead through a brace from midfielder Eoin Ryan and a point by Graeme Mulcahy, who profited from being released to the half-forward line for the second half.

The second-half control Kilmallock exerted in the middle third was a key factor as they destroyed Na Piarsaigh in the air through Gavin O’Mahony, Bryan O’Sullivan, Eoin Ryan and Paudie O’Brien. Between the 30th and 43rd minutes they reeled off nine points without any Na Piarsaigh score. Ryan, Mulcahy and O’Brien were the architects of that scoring spree to leave them 0-13 to 0-7 ahead.

Na Piarsaigh finally raised a white flag courtesy of substitute Adrian Breen in the 46th minute but it was a temporary blip for Kilmallock. The match was effectively killed off 60 seconds later when a ball lofted in from the left wing by Paudie O’Brien squirmed free from Na Piarsaigh goalkeeper Padraig Kennedy’s grasp and dropped to the net.

Kilmallock kept piling on the scores with Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Paddy Connery, O’Brien, Paudie O’Dwyer and Ryan firing over points. O’Dwyer also grabbed Kilmallock’s second goal in the 58th minute when he ghosted in behind the Na Piarsaigh rearguard and unleashed a blistering drive to the roof of the net. Na Piarsaigh grabbed a consolation goal in injury-time when Dowling blasted home a 20-yard free but there was no disputing Kilmallock’s ultimate superiority here.

Scorers for Kilmallock: E Ryan 0-6 (3f, two 65s); P O’Brien 1-3; P O’Dwyer 1-1; G Mulcahy 0-3; A O’Shaughnessy 0-2 (2f); G O’Sullivan, S O’Donnell, P Connery 0-1 each. Na Piarsaigh: S Dowling 1-6 (5f); P Gleeson, A Breen 0-1 each.

KILMALLOCK: B Hennessy; L Hurley, P O’Loughlin, K O’Mahony; L Walsh, G O’Mahony, B O’Sullivan; E Ryan, P O’Brien; P O’Dwyer, M Cronin, G O’Sullivan; J Mulcahy, A O’Shaughnessy, G Mulcahy.

Subs: S O’Donnell for Cronin (half-time), P Connery for G O’Sullivan (38).

NA PIARSAIGH: P Kennedy; K Bermingham, K Breen, P Guinane; B Hartnett, D Breen, A Dempsey; P Gleeson, C King; J O’Brien, S O’Neill, S Dowling; K Downes, B Russell,, R Sheehan.

Subs: D Lynch for K Breen (inj) (5), A Breen for Sheehan (half-time), D Quigley for Lynch (36), A Hennessy for Gleeson (47).

Referee: S Hourigan (Rathkeale).

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