Na Piarsaigh set to cast tradition aside

Na Piarsaigh go in search of their first Limerick SHC title on Sunday and they start as favourites to beat traditional power Ahane.

Na Piarsaigh go in search of their first Limerick SHC title on Sunday and they start as favourites to beat traditional power Ahane.

CHUCK Noll is one of American Football’s most renowned coaches.

The multi Super Bowl winning coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers is quoted as saying ‘‘Before you can win a game, you have to not lose it’.

As hot favourites to claim a first ever Limerick SHC title on Sunday, this quote could very well be applied to task facing Sean Stack’s Na Piarsaigh.

In the last two seasons the men from the Caherdavin club have progressed impressively to the later stages of the championship but would accept that they didn’t reach their potential against Adare (2009 final) and Kilmallock (2010 semi-final).

To put it simply, if Na Piarsaigh play to their potential on Sunday the Daly Cup should have just a short trip to make out the Ennis Road.

But there are many pitfalls that could derail what would be a historic achievement.

Opponents Ahane arrive into the final without any fanfare and could revel in the role of underdogs.

Clearly in Moran bothers - Niall and Ollie - they have marque players capable of being match winners.

And, that’s not to mention John Meskell and Cathal O’Reilly, who have rarely left Ahane down.

It could be unfair to suggest that curbing the Moran brothers would stifle Ahane’s challenge but still the task facing Kieran Breen and James O’Brien cannot be underestimated.

When Ahane backs were to the wall in the second half of their semi-final replay win over Emmets it was David Laing, John Meskell, teenager Richard Ryan and U-21 full back Darragh Madden that came to the fore.

Repeat performances would certainly lead others like Mike Carr, Daniel Morrissey and Fergus Ahern to new heights.

The Moran’s, O’Reilly, Laing, Meskell, Alan Doherty, Brian Healy and Sean O’Connor all played when Ahane defeated Garryspillane back in the 2004 final and this experience could be key.

It’s experience that Na Piarsaigh can only dream of.

But then again, the Light Blues have many of the form players in Limerick hurling.

Seven of their panel won Munster U-21 medals this summer and before that they tasted success with Ardscoil Ris - where coincidentally they were coached by Ahane centre forward Niall Moran.

On the back of those wins and the club’s U-21 success of last season, there is now winning mentality in Na Piarsaigh.

Ahane have natural leaders in the Moran’s, Meskell and O’Reilly and if Na Piarsaigh are to succeed all their potential leaders will need to stand up and be counted.

When the chips were down against Patrickswell after the sending off of Daivd Breen they responded and again Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes, Brian Hartnett and Shane O’Neill will be key.

Much is made of the Na Piarsaigh scoring power and there will be much focus on the Ahane full back line of Doherty, Madden and Doheny in front of Tadgh Flynn.

If they manage to shutout Na Piarsaigh it would be a big blow to the city men.

Ahane brought a high octane game to the table when they defeated Adare and a repeat of they high tempo intensity will be required if they are to get Na Piarsaigh doubting their own credentials.

But Na Piarsaigh have shown steel this season and look poised for a memorable win in their 40-odd year history.

The curtain raiser on Sunday (1.30) sees South Liberties return in a bid to go one better than last season. Sean Hehir’s men lost to Doon in a replay last year and on Sunday will face Garryspillane in the 2011 County Cup final.

Just 12-months ago, The Bouncers survived in the senior ranks when beating Claughaun in the relegation play-off. Liberties’ Shane O’Neill will be hoping to have double celebrations as he teaches in Scoil Chriost Ri in Caherdavin.