ST PATRICKS’nine-season stay in the Limerick SFC has come to an end after the Rhebogue club were beaten by Na Piarsaigh in the relegation play-off on Saturday. (Final score Na Piarsaigh 1-14 St Patricks 1-10)
Since winning the IFC in 2009, Pats fit in at the highest level reaching a county final in 2014 and were in the semi-final as recently as 2016.
For 2014 intermediate champions Na Piarsaigh, the performances of Limerick hurling panellists Peter Casey and David Dempsey were key to their success. Casey was a thorn in the side of the Patrick’s defence all afternoon while Dempsey controlled the game from midfield. The pair scored 1-5 from play between them.
The Caherdavin club played the better football for the majority of the contest but lacked the killer instinct that is so often associated with the club’s hurlers and let their opponents get back into the game.
A Casey goal just after the resumption should have seen Na Piarsaigh see out the game comfortably but, to their credit, St Patrick’s kept on fighting.
They reduced the deficit to a single point with just over five minutes to play, however, they couldn’t find an equiliser as the winners out-lasted them scoring the last three points to salvage their senior status.
Na Piarsaigh also scored the first three points of the game as they seemed to be the more focussed team in the opening exchanges. Dempsey, Eoin Hogan and Dylan Cronin all kicked scores as the men in light blue also had three wides before St Pats attempted a shot.
Their first sight at goal was an Eoin Hanrahan free which got them off the mark after 11 minutes.
Mid-way through the half Aaron Costelloe put three between the teams again, before three Cronin frees had Na Piarsaigh 0-7 to 0-1 ahead and dominating this relegation play-off.
Hanrahan kicked two frees before Casey got into the game scoring twice in quick succession.
Six points down on the stroke of half time, St Patrick’s got a goal to keep give them a fighting chance in the second period. Hanrahan was the provider for Keelan Stephenson who blasted the ball into the back of the net.
However, on the restart, St Pats couldn’t keep the momentum going. Na Piarsaigh opened the second half scoring with a well-taken Peter Casey goal. Casey’s low, hard effort gave Gary Neville in goal no chance and once again the lead was six points.
But bit by bit Pats gnawed away at their deficit. John Mullane and Hanrahan were converting frees and when substitute Jeffrey McNamara kicked a fine point from 40 yards out, the gap was a single point, 1-10 to 1-9.
Aaron Costelloe and Eoin Hanrahan then swapped frees as Pats still trailed by one with time running out. However, they could not force an equiliser and as Na Piarsaigh through Cronin (2) and Dempsey knocked over three late points to seal the win.
St Patrick’s finished the game with 13 players after injury time red cards for Gearoid Hegarty and Padraig Reale.
SCORERS: Na Piarsaigh: Dylan Cronin 0-6 (5f); Peter Casey 1-2; David Dempsey 0-3; Aaron Costelloe 0-2 (1f); Eoin Hogan 0-1 (f).
St Patrick’s: Eoin Hanrahan 0-6 (5f, 1 ’45); Keelan Stephenson 1-0; John Mullane 0-3 (3f); Jeffrey McNamara 0-1.
NA PIARSAIGH: Graham Culliton; Conor McLoughlin, Dean McLoughlin, Diarmuid Ryan; Gordon Browne, Kevin Nolan, Evan O’Brien; David Dempsey, Ronan Lynch; Brian Shannon, Eoin Hogan, Peter Casey; Dylan Cronin, Aaron Costelloe, Reuben McCarthy. Subs: Evan Condon for Brian Shannon (30 mins, black card); Cian Coady for Reuben McCarthy (59 mins); Peter Hodnett for Ronan Lynch (60 mins, black card).
ST PATRICK’S: Gary Neville; Kieran Ryan, Wayne Cronin, Gavin Mullins; Jamie Cross, Mark Phelan, Sean Canavan; Gearoid Phelan, Gearoid Hegarty; Liam Broderick, Conor Kavanagh, Keelan Stephenson; John Mullane, Calvin Moran, Eoin Hanrahan. Subs: Jeffrey McNamara for Jamie Cross (37 mins); Niall Phelan for Mark Phelan (50 mins, black card); Padraig Reale for John Mullane (51 mins); Shane Halpin for Gearoid Phelan (54 mins).
REFEREE: Donnacha O’Callaghan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon).