Na Piarsaigh end champs’ reign in big-gun battle

Munster and Limerick club hurling champions Kilmallock have been dethroned at the semi-final stage of the Limerick SHC.

And the side that beat them are 2013 Munster and Limerick champions, Na Piarsaigh.

The big two of Limerick club hurling collided in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday and it was was Na Piarsaigh that emerged 0-20 to 2-13 winners to advance to the final against Adare or Patrickswell.

Kilmallock have won three of the last five Limerick titles with Na Piarsaigh winning the other two.

But this repeat of last year’s final was dominated by Na Piarsaigh for long periods. They were 0-19 to 1-9 clear with 10 minutes to play.

Credit champions Kilmallock, they battled to the end and hit 1-5 in the final eight minutes to claw their way back into the contest.

Jake Mulcahy then stood over a ‘65 in the fourth minute of injury-time but couldn’t force a dramatic replay.

Na Piarsaigh hit the ground running and were 0-5 to 0-1 ahead after 10 minutes with minor star Peter Casey leading the way with two fine points.

Kilmallock trailed 0-12 to 0-7 at half-time and had to rely on six frees from Jake Mulcahy to keep them in touch. Their only score from play in the first half came from Limerick minor Paddy O’Loughlin in the 14th minute.

Na Piarsaigh had hit five in succession with Casey, Alan Dempsey, Adrian Breen and William O’Donoghue on target for Shane O’Neill’s men.

Adrian Breen extended the advantage on the resumption. But Kilmallock then had successive scores with O’Loughlin adding another point and fellow teenager Robbie Hanley goaling with his first touch after a half-time introduction.

That left it 0-13 to 1-8 but Na Piarsaigh powered forward again. Casey’s fifth point and a sixth from Shane Dowling helped them to reopen a five-point gap entering the final quarter.

A Mulcahy free ended almost 10 minutes without a Kilmallock score but it was only a temporary break to the Na Piarsaigh scoring as O’Donogue and Dempsey soon had the city side onto 19 points, with Kilmallock at 1-9.

But Na Piarsaigh were to score just once in the final 11 minutes as Kilmallock stormed back. Oisin O’Reilly led the fightback with two points.

But they needed a goal. Gavin O’Mahony and Graeme Mulcahy had chances but Ger O’Loughlin’s men had to wait until injury-time for Hanley to squeeze the sliothar into the net in a crowded goalmouth. That somehow left the minimum between the teams but Mulcahy’s late, late effort couldn’t force a replay for the champions.

Na Piarsaigh will now play Adare or Patrickswell in the final.

Adare booked their semi-final spot with a 1-20 to 2-10 quarter-final replay win over Ahane.

Ger Hegarty’s side dominated throughout in the Gaelic Grounds, but disappointing Ahane finished with an unanswered 1-4 to take some of the stark look off the final score.

With captain Willie Griffin in fine form, Adare set the early tone and were 0-7 to 1-0 ahead on seven minutes, despite John Fox’s second-minute goal. Six successive points in reply to that goal set down a marker and Adare never looked back.

They were 0-13 to 1-3 ahead at half-time with four from play from Griffin and two each for Declan Hannon and John Fitzgibbon.

Ahane had only one point - a John Meskell free - in the last 20 minutes of the half.

On the change of ends there was no let-up from Adare.

The win was all but sealed in the sixth minute of the second half when Mike Mackey had their goal to ease them 1-16 to 1-4 clear.

There was all of 25 minutes to play but Adare kept the scoreboard ticking over with Griffin, Mackey, Charlie McCarthy and Hannon scoring points to lead 1-20 to 1-6 with just under 10 minutes to play.

That was it from Adare but Ahane did come with a late flurry.

John Meskell, Richie Ryan and John Fox all had points. In the final minute Niall Moran had their second goal but it merely glossed the scoreboard.


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