THE Limerick senior hurling championship swings into action this weekend with a former Cork minor making his Bruree debut in a bid to earn a call-up to the inter-county panel.
Bruree ended a famine dating back to 1896 when they lifted the Daly Cup as Limerick senior hurling champions in 2006.
Earlier that Summer Cork were crowned Munster minor hurling champions – Shaun Riordan was wing back in a team that also contained current Rebel senior stars; Paudie O’Sullivan and Patrick Horgan.
This weekend, it’s a home-coming of sorts for Riordan when he makes his Limerick senior hurling championship debut with Bruree.
The 23-year-old transferred across the Cork border at the start of this year from Newtownshandrum to Bruree.
Born in Ballyagran, the Riordan family moved to Newtownshandrum when he was young.
He learned his hurling with the north Cork club and graduated to the inter-county scene with the men in red.
But all the time, he dreamed of following in his grandfather Mossie’s footsteps by wearing the famed green and white jersey of Limerick.
Mossie, who passed away in 2008, won an All-Ireland medal with the Limerick junior team which defeated London in the 1957 final, and played for many years with the Bruree club.
In 2010, Riordan made his first foray into Limerick when accepted an invitation to attend trials for Justin McCarthy’s new-look Shannonside squad.
After coming on as a substitute against Offaly in the 2010 National League, he made his full debut against All-Ireland champions Kilkenny at the Gaelic Grounds that April.
But he was still hurling with Newtownshandrum – where he won two Cork and two Munster club championships.
“I was 16 when Newtown won the first one and I was only on the panel – we lost the All-Ireland final to Portumna that year,” he recalled this week.
In 2009 came the second successful year for the Ben and Jerry O’Connor powered men in green and gold.
Henry Shefflin and his Ballyhale Shamrocks colleague ended the Newtown journey at the semi-final stage that season when Riordan was a regular.
But when the Limerick opportunity came the following year, Riordan was ready to follow his dream with Limerick and now two years later he wants to re-ignite his Limerick career by proving himself with Bruree.
“I would have been at a lot of Limerick club games down the years. Nearly every year I would have got to Bruree game with matches in Ballyagran of Kilmallock,” he recalled.
In Bruree, Riordan was welcomed with open arms.
“They all welcomed me into their panel and it really feels like I have been here longer than I have. They have all been so good and I had no problem settling in,” explained Riordan, who works with Ryan and Riordan Insurances, who have offices in Pallasgreen and Charleville.
“This was the best decision for me,” he said of his transfer to Bruree.
“My goal was always to play for Limerick and I was involved in 2010 with Justin McCarthy and of course I would love to get back involved again.
“I felt that the best platform for me was to be playing in the Limerick championship rather than in Cork.
“You have to aspire to be the best you can and that’s what I will do and if the Limerick chance comes along that will be great.
“For now I want to get up and running with Bruree and see how the season goes,” he outlined.
“You can’t take any team for granted. We have Emmets first and they are county finalists and semi-finalists in recent years and then we have local rivals Granagh-Ballingarry and Adare still to play. It’s a tough group but there is nothing easy.”