Another statement of intent from Na Piarsaigh but three injuries will give them food for thought ahead of a second successive Munster final on November 18.
Leading 2-13 to 0-5 at the interval, the Limerick champions were well on their way to extending their unbeaten record in the province to 12 matches. However, by that stage they had lost Shane Dowling to a nasty hand injury as he won a free - the 2014 All-Star was in a sling at the final whistle.
After he scored a second goal, Na Piarsaigh shrewdly withdrew Peter Casey to protect him. However, Ronan Lynch, who along with Adrian Breen had been Na Piarsaigh’s best performer, then collided with a team-mate and had to be replaced in the 44th minute.
Corner-back Kieran Kennedy hobbled off close to the end on an afternoon which could turn out to be hugely costly for the victors.
“All those injuries need to be assessed,” Na Parsaigh boss Paul Beary: “We’ve been so long at it for the last few weeks and a lot of these guys have had very long seasons we have to go in now and assess where we are at. We have two weeks now to prepare for the Munster final. I’m not concerned.”
Clonoulty-Rossmore’s goal was under threat from the outset and Declan O’Dwyer did well to deny Kevin Downes a third-minute goal. Their sharpness, though, was not going to be smothered and they led 0-10 to 0-3 in the 22nd minute.
Adrian Breen was causing havoc every time he caught the ball and it came as no surprise two minutes later when he helped set up the opening goal for Kevin Downes after William O’Donoghue had fielded well to initiate the attack.
The gulf in class was further exposed in the 29th minute when Na Piarsaigh won back the ball after O’Dwyer had parried a shot from Conor Boylan. Cathal King and Downes combined to tee up Casey for his first goal and the contest was all but over.
Timmy Hammersley had been keeping things slightly respectable for the Tipperary winners but a rush of 1-4 for Na Piarsaigh in the opening six minutes of the second half including Casey’s second following some slack marking well and truly confirmed the result.
Beary admitted the win came easier than expected but commended his players’ attitude. “You know we were well prepped for it. Obviously, it was difficult for us with the county final last week and everything but we had a good chat on Monday and we had to reset the mindset.
“We defended one title last weekend and it’s all about defending the titles that we have and we knew we had to reset the mindset ASAP.”
Before his injury, Lynch had been superb for Na Piarsaigh, giving a reminder of what Limerick done without this past year but may call on again in the future. “Ronan was away for the summer and I think it did him the wealth of good,” Beary said of the player’s time in the US.
“He’s one of the most skilful players to watch in training. I’m delighted for Ronan, he had a fantastic game.”
Acknowledging the club’s record of never having lost a game in Munster, Beary remarked: “ Put it down to the steely resolve of these guys and that goes all the way back to the way they are moulded in the club, their loyalty to each other, that’s the start of it all. It goes back to the people who invested so much in these guys when they were young.
“That’s at the centrepoint of it all and thereafter it is just learning, they are high performers and they are learning to perform on the higher stage and bring out the best of themselves, but they are a self-driven bunch, self-motivated.”
In that respect, Beary complimented his captain O’Donoghue: “Fantastic leadership and it starts at the top with William O’Donoghue, the captain. (I) made him captain when I took over the team and I would have seen the leadership qualities that he has to offer. But they all drive each other, there is no let up here. I would say if you step back, there should be a lot of physical and mental fatigue but at this point in time there isn’t any of it. We just need to have in there for two more weeks.”
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: P. Casey (2-2); A. Breen (0-6); S. Dowling (0-5, frees); K. Downes (1-1, 0-1 free); R. Lynch (0-3, 1 free); C. Grimes (0-2); D. Dempsey, A. Dempsey, C. Boylan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clonoulty-Rossmore: T. Hammersley (0-8, 5 frees); P. White (0-2); C. Bourke, C. Hammersley, D. Quirke (sideline) (0-1 each).
NA PIARSAIGH: P. Kennedy; J. Boylan, M. Casey, K. Kennedy; R. Lynch, W. O’Donoghue (c), C. King; A. Dempsey, G. Brown; S. Dowling, P. Casey, C. Boylan; A. Breen, K. Downes, D. Dempsey.
Subs for Na Piarsaigh: C. Houlihan for S. Dowling (29); K. Ryan for P. Casey (38); M. Foley for R. Lynch (blood 44); T. Grimes for A. Dempsey (45); P. Gleeson for K. Kennedy (inj 60+3).
CLONOULTY-ROSSMORE: D. O’Dwyer; Joey O’Keeffe, C. Quirke, J. Ryan; S. O’Connor, John O’Keeffe (c), E. Heffernan; J. Heffernan, C. Hammersley; P. White, Dillon Quirke, Tom Butler; C. Bourke, T. Hammersley, F. O’Keeffe.
Subs for Clonoulty-Rossmore: Thomas Butler for F. O’Keeffe (h-t); R. Heffernan for J. Heffernan (38); N. Shanahan for Joey O’Keeffe (inj 53); J. O’Brien for C. King (55); P. Ryan for Tom Butler (55); Donnchadh Quirke for J. Ryan (59).
Referee: D. Kirwan (Cork).