Steven Miller previews the Limerick minor hurling final as Doon and Patrickswell go head-to-head.
SUNDAY’S proceedings in the Gaelic Grounds should get off to an interesting start as Doon and Patrickswell meet in this year’s county minor hurling final at 1.45pm.
This championship began way back at the end of March and through five group games each and a semi-final, both sides have a 100% record. Something will have to give this Sunday but expect it to be a tight one. Expect it to be a good one, too.
There’s certainly no doubting that the two best teams in the competition have made it all the way to the final. Patrickswell are looking for a first title since the back-to-back success of 2007-2008 while you have to go back to 2003 for Doon’s last win in the grade.
Both sides are packed with fine young players with minor inter-county, Harty Cup and senior club experience.
There will be nine county minors on show, Patrickswell have five players who were on the club senior team that ran Adare to a point in the quarter-final and Doon have eight of their U-21 team that played Na Piarsaigh in that county final earlier this year.
Diarmuid Byrnes captains Patrickswell from centre-back and is a very classy hurler that has the potential to go a long way. Behind him in the number three jersey is James Carrig while corner-back Neil Carmody was very impressive in the semi-final win over Na Piarsaigh.
That win over the reigning champions was based on a good showing in the first half when two goals helped them to a 2-8 to 0-4 lead. Goals that day from U-16 player Cian Lynch and wing forward Paul O’Brien got them going and the flawless free-taking of Andrew Carroll was also a factor. Jack Kelleher and Kevin O’Brien will also offer a constant threat and how Doon handle Patrickswell’s dangerous forwards will be of huge importance.
One thing the Well won’t want to repeat however is their sluggish second-half showing in that semi-final when they scored only four points and allowed Na Piarsaigh right back into the game.
While Doon didn’t look as impressive in their win over Ballybrown, they can be expected to make a good match of it.
Their players have played an amount of hurling this year and many of them have already played in an U-21 county final and won a Munster Colleges ‘B’ title.
The lively Dean Coleman captains the side from corner forward and it was him who scored their all-important first-half goal against Ballybrown the last day out. Along with Pat and Raymond Ryan, Barry Murphy and Tony Berkery, they have a forward line that will create chances. The challenge though is taking them. They were very wasteful against Ballybrown and should have been out of sight long before the final whistle. As it was they were hanging on.
County minor full back Richie English mans the same position for Doon and will be expected to pick up one of Patrickswell’s dangerous attackers while centre-back Darragh Stapleton - who was in goals for the Limerick minors this year - is also a fine player. Their midfield partnership of Patrick Cummins and Darragh O’Donovan were also very impressive in the semi-final.
Both sides have plenty of room for improvement from their semi-finals and you can be sure that they’ve been working hard to right the wrongs ever since. On the face of it, Patrickswell would appear better-placed to win it. They’ve a good balance to their side and a range of quality scorers. Doon will make it hard for them but Patrickswell might have just about enough.