Na Piarsaigh produce their performance of the year to crush Doon in one-sided Limerick SHC final

Doon's good start a false dawn as favourites run riot in final quarter
Na Piarsaigh produce their performance of the year to crush Doon in one-sided Limerick SHC final

POWERFUL: Doon’s Jack Cummins challenges David Dempsey of Na Piarsaigh in Saturday's Limericki SHC final, won comfortably by Na Piarsaigh.

Limerick SHC final: Na Piarsaigh 5-27 Doon 1-12

Emphatic hardly does the display justice.

A devastating fourth quarter in which champions Na Piarsaigh notched 3-8 without reply was key to their Limerick senior hurling win on Saturday night. Doon kept pace with the winners until the second water-break but then the city side cut loose.

Complacency hasn’t entered the Na Piarsaigh mentality if this display can be entered in evidence. On two separate occasion in the first half their midfield and half-backs coursed Doon opponents across the field and over the sideline, a sharp illustration of their appetite for work.

Na Piarsaigh had their usual spread of scorers, from Ronan Lynch up to Will Henn, but their hunger for a game-breaking goal, was also clearly visible. Twice they strung together a necklace of handpasses to create a goal chance before they made the breakthrough with their third attempt.

When that chance arrived, on 27 minutes, David Dempsey had a good deal to do but he duly stitched the ball into the corner of the net to give his side a significant boost on their way to victory.

Doon couldn’t be faulted for their effort, but they couldn’t unshackle their own best performers. Pat Ryan dominated their semi-final last weekend as an outlet for the defence and as a free-scoring, free-running half-forward.

Na Piarsaigh had surely noticed, because Ryan was afforded nothing like the same freedom on Saturday evening, with Will O’Donoghue dropping back to compress the space around the city side’s half-back line.

The men in sky blue were 1-12 to 0-9 ahead at the break and clearly determined to put the game away early in the second half. Peter Casey placed Dempsey for his second goal and William Henn’s accuracy pushed them to 2-19 to 1-12 at the water-break, Doon’s penalty a Barry Murphy penalty.

Then came that third-quarter blitz: Casey got two goals inside a minute and Adrian Breen hit one: Doon didn’t even score after that water-break as Na Piarsaigh ran riot.

“The scoreline didn’t reflect the intensity of the game,” said Na Piarsaigh boss Kieran Bermingham afterwards.

“But that was the performance we were training for, we were striving for, all year and it just happened tonight.

“It’s nice to be able to enjoy the last couple of minutes of a game, but that’s not to say we did sit back and enjoy it, because we still had a job to do. We were playing a very tasty outfit in Doon.”

The men in red and white were left to rue what might have been if Limerick seniors Richie English and Darragh O’Donovan hadn’t been out through injury for Saturday night: the pair could have brought valuable experience to a Doon outfit with a couple of teenagers facing a first county final.

In fairness it should be acknowledged that not all of Na Piarsaigh’s weapons were on the field either. Shane Dowling was forced to retire earlier this year — though manager Bermingham gave an intriguing hint that he might return at some point — while Kevin Downes, another potent attacker, didn’t play after a hand injury sustained in the semi-final.

Saturday night was Na Piarsaigh’s sixth county title since their first, won back in 2011. Bermingham, captain that day, said the pressure of managing the side was “a privilege, because it’s a privilege to be associated with Na Piarsaigh, it’s a privilege to be associated with this bunch of players and we’re just so happy with the win tonight.

“It’s just rewards for the work they put in. It’s absolutely incredible, the work they put in, the standards they set for themselves. We just facilitate that.

“We haven’t done anything special. This is player-led, it always has been and it always will be.”

The proof of that? Captain Will O’Donoghue’s summation of the spirit in the panel: “Any one of us could have been missing and I’d fully expect, I’d have full faith in any player there tonight stepping up trying to deliver a good performance.

“It’s not about how talented you are, it’s about what you’re willing to do for Na Piarsaigh and the team. I fully believe in our group.”

The 60-second report

IT MATTERED: In a game of six goals the first one was the most significant. David Dempsey’s superb strike put Na Piarsaigh on the road to victory - coming just before half-time, it was the boost his side needed and deflated Doon.

CAN’T IGNORE: The goals in the fourth quarter. Peter Casey hit two in a minute before Adrian Breen scored Na Piarsaigh’s fifth. It was a stunning flourish in a game the city side dominated.

MAIN MAN: A winning margin of 27 points makes the choice harder if anything. David Dempsey got two goals, the first of which - see above - was crucial. Will Henn’s accuracy from frees was vital to Na Piarsaigh’s dominance. But Ronan Lynch hit four points from long range and also tied up Pat Ryan, Doon’s danger man, so he gets the vote.

PHYSIO ROOM: Is there a chance Shane Dowling will come back? Na Piarsaigh boss Kieran Bermingham referred to his clubmate, who was forced to retire on medical grounds earlier this year: “It was devastating for everybody, not just Na Piarsaigh but Limerick as well, to hear the news that Shane had to call it a day. Shane is a unique character, a great guy to have around the group, and he’ll always be there or thereabouts - I wouldn’t be ruling him out yet.”

MAN IN BLACK: Johnny Murphy of Ballylanders handled the game well, including a good spot when a player dropped his hurley to lay off a handpass.

WHAT’S NEXT: Nothing unless the GAA can facilitate some form of Munster club championship early in the new year.

Scorers for Doon: B. Murphy (3 frees, 1 65, 1 pen)(1-4); C. Ryan (frees)(0-3); J. Ryan, D. Moloney (0-2 each); J. Cummins (0-1).

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: P. Casey (2-4); D. Dempsey (2-2), W. Henn (7 frees) (0-8); R. Lynch (3 frees, 65)(0-4); A. Breen (1-3); C. Boylan, T. Grimes, J. O’Brien (frees) (0-2 each).

DOON: E. McNamara, C. Thomas, E. Fitzgibbon, T. Hayes, C. Ryan, M. O’Brien, J. Cummins, M. Ryan, J. Ryan, D. Moloney, P. Ryan, B. Murphy (c), E. Stokes, D. Stapleton, Jack Ryan.

Subs: D. Coleman for M. Ryan (28); P. Cummins for Stapleton (HT); C. O’Donovan for Stokes (inj., 44).

NA PIARSAIGH: P. Kennedy, J. Boylan, M. Casey, C. King, K. Kennedy, R. Lynch, A. Dempsey, T. Grimes, W. O’Donoghue (c), A. McNamara, D. Dempsey, A. Breen, P. Casey, C. Boylan, W. Henn.

Subs: M. Foley for A. Dempsey (52); J. O’Brien for Lynch and N. Buckley for Kennedy (55)

Referee: J. Murphy (Ballylanders)

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