Limerick IHC Final - Ballybrown v Dromin-Athlacca preview

Jerome O’Connell

Reporter:

Jerome O’Connell

BAallybrown and Dromin-Athlacca bid to return to the senior hurling ranks when they clash in Saturday’s county intermediate hurling championship final in Kilamllock.

BAallybrown and Dromin-Athlacca bid to return to the senior hurling ranks when they clash in Saturday’s county intermediate hurling championship final in Kilamllock.

THESE two teams have been knocked out of the county intermediate championship by the eventual winners for the past three seasons.

That unfortunate fate will again fall to one of the finalists this Saturday (3.00).

From the outset of the Nick Grene Sports sponsored county intermediate hurling championship, Ballybrown and Dromin-Athlacca were on everyone’s shortlist of potential winners.

Their pairing together in the same group with Bruff and Claughaun meant that minds were focused early in the season.

As it turned out both beat the other teams in the group to advance, with Dromin-Athlacca topping the group following their 2-14 to 2-12 win on August 3 in the final round group game.

Ballybrown are back in the final 12-months after being surprised by Effin in the Gaelic Grounds.

There was a change of management for this season with Christy Keyes assuming the manager role and bringing in Dave Mahedy to oversee the physical preparation and Clem Smith to coach the side.

Completing the back room are selectors’ Joe and Paul O’Connor.

Captained by Des Kenny, Ballybrown have undergone some key positional switches this season in an effort to find a winning formula.

James Kennedy is now full back with 2011 U-21 winner Stevie O’Reilly, alongside him.

Richie Kenny has made the move back to centre back with experienced duo Des Kenny and Ian Burke on the wings.

This line of the team was key in turning the semi-final in their favour and will again carry much responsibilty.

In midfield is Kyle Loftus and James Hall, who has moved from defence.

Their attack is full of potential but they have relied heavily on Alan O’Connor in the past and he will need assistance on Saturday to keep the Dromin-Athlacca defence on their toes.

Mikey Kiely, David Hall, Shane Kenny and Brian Griffin can all find the range and a fine scoring display from either of this quartet will be needed if Ballybrown are to make it third time lucky in intermediate finals.

Ballybrown were slow to start in some games and given how Dromin-Athacca started against Killeedy in their quarter-final, the Clarina based club will do well to be ready for an early onslaught.

That scoring spree by Dromin-Athlacca was led by James Kelleher.

Kelleher is just one of many experienced players in this Dromin-Athlacca team that have tasted senior championship both as a club and with Emmets in the last few years.

Paul Neenan remains their scoring stalwart and is now positioned at wing forward, where he is a constant target from puckouts as well as their ultra reliable free-taker. Its a strong half forward line, completed with the two Reidy brothers, David and Michael.

Team captain Tiernan Ryan lines out at full forward with Eoin O’Leary another option at the edge of the square or indeed in the half forward line.

There were concerns over their defence during their quarter-final with Monaleen but now back to full strength they look strong with Brian Kelleher at full back and Eoin Benson at centre back. Peter Ryan and Gearoid O’Leary are both hugely experienced and often inspirational for their team.

The newly crowned Limerick champions are due to play away to Cork’s Ballinhassig in the Munster club on October 28.

Two points divided the teams already this year and again it will be tight with goals vital.

Prediction - Dromin-Athlacca

PATHS TO THE FINAL

BALLYBROWN

Round 1: Ballybrown 3-13, Claughaun 0-4

Round 2: Ballybrown 1-22, Bruff 3-7

Round 3: Dromin-Athlacca 2-14, Ballybrown 2-12

Quarter-final: Ballybrown 3-10, Knockaderry 0-9

Semi-final: Ballybrown 1-20, Mungret 0-9

DROMIN-ATHLACCA

Round 1: Bruff 2-16, Dromin-Athlacca 1-19

Round 2: Dromin-Athlacca 3-13, Claughaun 0-9

Round 3: Dromin-Athlacca 2-14, Ballybrown 2-12

Quarter-final: Dromin-Athlacca 2-19, Monaleen 4-16

Quarter-final replay: Dromin-Athlacca 2-10, Monaleen 1-8

Semi-final: Dromin-Athlacca 4-16, Killeedy 1-17