In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely looks back at last week’s county intermediate hurling and senior football finals.
HEART, commitment and the love of the parish are just some of the words that could be used to describe the County Intermediate hurling final played last week under lights at the Gaelic Grounds.
This was one of the games of the year as far as real passion and effort were concerned and credit to both teams for the sporting manner and honesty in which they brought to this game.
This was a cracking contest and we had some very good spells of hurling while some players stood out suggesting they might well have more to offer Limerick.
Hurling in October under lights normally would be far from pleasant but conditions were good for hurling and the fine crowd was treated to a game that was interesting right to the end.
Dromin Athlacca and Knockaderry are as close as you will get to the core of the G.A.A, both small parishes rich in the ideals of the founding fathers of the Gaelic Athletic Association.
Long before a ball was struck in the game you got the sense of pride from supporters.
This was their night, a chance to win a championship and nothing would be spared in an effort to do so.
This game was supposed to be played a few days previously but it was rightly postponed as a mark of respect to the O’Leary family who lost their mother Breda after a brave battle with illness. The O’Leary family has given sterling service to Dromin Athlacca over so many years. The late Mike was an outstanding hurling man and loved his club and his county.
His sons Gearoid and Eoin are now carrying on that tradition and it’s safe to say their late father would be proud of his sons.
The South Limerick club had won this title on three occasions in the past, 1977, 2004 and 2007 and they went into this game as favourites.
Knockaderry is a small club, nestling in the heart of West Limerick, the village is small but massively proud of its identity.
One of most interesting factors in this game was the energy both teams brought to the Gaelic Grounds - from the time Trevor Mann got the game underway it was none stop action.
The crowd wasn’t to be found wanting either and they followed the lead of the players.
The opening fifteen minutes suggested the favourites were living up to that title with a well taken goal by David Reidy. By the twenty fifth minute Dromin Athlacca were leading 1-5 to 0-6 and all looked good for them but credit to Knockaderry who, over the next five minutes, landed five points without reply.
Some of these scores were high quality. David O’ Callaghan and a superb score from Don Hanley set the foundation for their recovery. Mike Downes hit some magnificent points from placed balls and his team enjoyed a four point’s margin at halftime.
Knockaderry could well have been further ahead and were guilty of some very poor wides.
Dromin Athlacca were in no doubt now that they would have to improve greatly in the second half if they had any chance of winning this game.
Their manager Peter Finn was cool on the line but I doubt that was the case in the dressing room at halftime.
He could see that his team had not nearly hurled as a unit and his words must have been ringing in their ears as they ran onto the field. Dromin Athlacca were more direct in the second half and it reaped rewards.
Tiernan Ryan was introduced as a sub and he was to make a telling difference.
He held on to possession and with his first ball he crossed and Eoin O’Leary whipped first time to score a goal that set the foundation for winning.
Dromin Athlacca now took a firm hold on the game. They scored some outstanding points.
I was hugely impressed with their midfield pair of Peter Ryan and Michael Reidy. Both of these men were the real difference between the teams.
Ryan hitting two points but Reidy’s display of scoring four points does not fully explain his abilities.
He has great skill and balance and I think this young man deserves the opportunity to develop his talents and would blossom at intercounty level.
Knockaderry worked very hard but they were unable to come to terms with the pace Dromin Athlacca were now playing at but they tried right to the end just like we always knew they would.
Many players have given great service to Dromin Athlacca but Paul Neenan has given outstanding service.
Many of the great gaels who served Dromin Athlacca have passed to their eternal reward but gaels like Mike and Breda O’Leary will rest easy now that another championship has been won.
Meanwhile, seven county titles in twelve years confirm, if it needed confirming, that Drom/Broadford are the undoubted kings of Limerick football.
Once again this great club and this outstanding group of players have produced yet another championship win and this tells us a great deal about the steel that lies inside this current Drom/Broadford team.
From a tame start many years ago this club has shown great vision but for me the players who have been involved in so many great days are the real heroes in the way they have shown great leadership and commitment over such a long time.
Many clubs and players talk about winning a title, not to mind titles, but in the case of Drom/Broadford they have done far more than talking about it.
These players are an inspiration that others could follow but be warned that to do so will require huge pride and a deep love of parish.
Winning one title would keep most clubs going for years but not for the West Limerick men who have shown a massive appetite for success.