Jerome O’Connell previews the Limerick JHC final as Monagea look to make an instant return to the intermediate grade.
FOR the third time this season Monagea and St Kieran’s meet in championship hurling this Saturday.
But form and previous meetings will matter for little when Tournafulla clash in the county junior A hurling championship final, which is sponsored by Foynes Engineering.
It’s a Monagea side bidding to make an instant return to the intermediate grade after being relegated last year.
Junior champions in 2008 their three year stay in the second tier of club hurling came to an end this time last year.
On Saturday they face a St Kieran’s side that have been there-or-three abouts for the past four years and were beaten finalists in 2010 when they lost to Effin.
For both, the championship season started on May 12 in Dromcollogher when they clash in round one of a hugely competitive 11-team West JAHC.
On that occasion St Kieran’s were 10-point winners.
Just over a month ago, they met again - this time in the West final.
The winners were again St Kieran’s but this time the margin was 3-17 to 0-10.
“It’s tough to take a clipping like that in any game,” explained Monagea captain Peter Murphy.
“They are a very strong side and I think we struggled against them physically. We were probably caught because we played the west football final the week before and I think that took a lot out of us,” explained Murphy, Monagea’s inspirational centre back.
But somehow their management team of John Flavin and Finbarr Dorgan managed to lift spirits ahead of their county campaign.
“It was all about confidence and beating Castletown and Na Piarsaigh was a great confidence boost - they were two big wins for us,” explained Murphy, whose Monagea side are chasing a unique county junior double.
Indeed last weekend was their first free weekend after eight successive weeks of games.
“It’s tough going alright but I guess it only matters when you lose and you are down after losing,” said Murphy.
For Murphy and colleagues Saturday is one step away from achieving their goal of an immediate return up the ranks.
“Last year was very disappointing and we only had ourselves to blame, although maybe things didn’t go our way. To get straight back to the final is a great achievement but when you are there, you want to win it,” said Murphy.
St Kieran’s captain is Paudie McCarthy.
He makes little of their two wins over their final opponents already this year.
“A final is a final - anything can happen,” said McCarthy.
He hopes that the experience of recent years will stand to his side.
“We have been fairly consistent since we came up Junior A. I’d say we were in the west final for three of the last five or six years and we got to the final against Effin but they were very strong and have proven that since,” outlined McCarthy.
“It is going to be very tough. We know each other very well,” he said.
St Kieran’s are managed by Noel Broderick, David Woulfe, John Ahern and trainer Mike O’Connor.
“Its been a good year for us but its about winning when you get to a final. It should be a good occasion with a good atmosphere but as player its only about winning when you are in a final,” said McCarthy as his club bid to win a first county junior A crown since 1985.
Key for St Kierans will be the captain and his brothers Johnny and Brendan McCarthy.
Also crucial to the men from the Ardagh-Coolcappa-Kilcolman parish will be midfielders Anthony Molyneaux and Jack Harnett and attackers Timmy Carroll, Donie Nolan and Ray Cahill.
Monagea are led by Peter Murphy with Sean Herlihy, Tom O’Callaghan, Mike King, the O’Shea and Mulcahy brothers.
The pressure will be on St Kieran’s to make it three in a row over Monagea this season.
Traditionally Monagea would have held the upperhand but Kieran’s must be favoured.
Prediction - St Kieran’s