Na Piarsaigh pounce late

Limerick SHC final
Na Piarsaigh 1-22 Patrickswell 4-12

A compelling final at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday ended with a thrilling one-point victory for Na Piarsaigh — their third title in five years (’11 and ’13) — and it was a Shane Dowling free in the final minute that decided the outcome.

Manager Shane O'Neill celebrates with Ronan Lynch after Na Piarsaigh's victory in the Limerick SHC final at the Gaelic Grounds. Picture: Diarmuid Greene
Manager Shane O'Neill celebrates with Ronan Lynch after Na Piarsaigh's victory in the Limerick SHC final at the Gaelic Grounds. Picture: Diarmuid Greene

It capped a tenacious fightback when it looked as if the Daly Cup might be heading out of town to the ’Well.

After a nervous start, Patrickswell’s challenge ignited in the second-half when Diarmaid Byrnes buried two penalties past Podge Kennedy. They took the lead for the first time, and stretched it to five points. Undaunted, Na Piarsaigh got to grips with the game, outscoring their opponents eight points to two.

“Patrickswell have been playing a similar type system all year,” said winning manager Shane O’Neill. “We thought we would deal with it man on man but it didn’t happen and we tweaked it slightly. I think after the fourth goal went in we drove on.

“There have been a lot of question marks about our mentality. These guys have now won three county titles and two Munster titles and their character is still questioned. It is amazing. All we can do is keep winning and win what is in front of us. That is what we have been doing.”

Na Piarsaigh, who edged out titleholders Kilmallock also by a point in the semi-final, hit the ground running and were 0-5 to 0-2 to the good after 10 minutes.

Kevin Downes — despite recovering from a leg injury —announced his presence at the edge of the square, scoring a couple of points and forced an outstanding save from Brian Murray.

Indeed, Murray was super-solid between the posts and went on to make another two point-blank stops.

However, in front of an attendance of 3,655, Downes did get the better of the custodian in the 16th minute following a tremendous surge by David Dempsey to extend their lead.

Crucially, Patrickswell hit back with two goals within a three minute spell to trail 1-9 to 2-4 with 10 minutes to go to the break, the goals scored by brothers Thomas and Kevin O’Brien. Kevin was a handful at full forward, forcing Na Piarsaigh to move captain Cathal King to mark him later in the second half.

Thomas O’Brien then had a ’Well goal disallowed before half-time. From the free-out Dowling found Downes and his point gave Na Piarsaigh a 1-12 to 2-7 advantage at the interval. As well, the ’Well wide tally was increasing and by half-time it was 14/7.

After the restart, Byrnes turned the game on its head with his brilliantly struck penalties following repeated fouls on Kevin O’Brien and by the three-quarter mark Patrickswell had moved 4-10 to 1-14 clear. However, Na Piarsaigh were far from done as they introduced David Breen (unable to start because of injury), Niall Buckley and Pat Gleeson. Peter Casey (2), Downes (2), Dowling and Dempsey levelled matters with five minutes remaining, 1-20 to 4-11. Still tied with a minute left, the tension was palpable.

Dowling tapped over a free following a foul on Gleeson and with just one minute of injury time played that was it.

The wait continues for Patrickswell who won the first of their 18 titles 50 years ago and their most recent in 2003.

They came so near and captain Barry Foley was proud of his troops: “We have a young side and we made a lot of progress this year and we have great guys over us.

“Today was a learning curve. Na Piarsaigh had been there and done it. We should have closed out the game when we were five points up.”

Na Piarsaigh are now going for a quadruple of county hurling titles — senior and U21 complete. They are in the junior semi-final and the minor decider.

They also have a Munster Club quarter-final to look forward to in two weeks away to Sixmilebridge.

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh:

K Downes (1-5), S Dowling (0-6, four frees), P Casey and K Ryan (0-3 each), A Dempsey (0-2), D Dempsey, C King and W O’Donoghue (0-1 each).

Scorers for Patrickswell:

D Byrnes (2-3, 2-0 pen, 0-3 frees), T O’Brien (1-1), K O’Brien (1-0), L Considine, J Kelleher (frees) and C Lynch (0-2 each), A Gillane and S O’Brien (0-1 each).

NA PIARSAIGH:

P Kennedy; M Casey, K Breen, K Kennedy; M Foley, C King (Capt), R Lynch; A Dempsey, W O’Donoghue; S Dowling, D Dempsey, K Ryan; P Casey, K Downes, A Breen.

Subs:

N Buckley for K Breen (38), P Gleeson for K Ryan, D Breen for A Breen (both 45).

PATRICKSWELL:

B Murray; K Lynch, B Foley (Capt), J Carrig; M Carmody, D Byrnes, N Foley; S O’Brien, J Kelleher; A Gillane, C Lynch, A Carroll; T O’Brien, K O’Brien, L Considine.

Subs:

T Sheehan for A Gillane, P Harty for A Carroll (both 54).

Referee:

Michael Sexton (Bruree).



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