WHAT an occasion for Limerick with a first ever derby final in the Dr Harty Cup at 1.30 this Saturday in teh Gaelic Grounds when Ardscoil Ris play Doon’s Scoil na Trionoide Naofa.
Historically finals between schools from the same county are scare in the prestigious competition with the 1994 clash of North Monastery and Midleton the last time there was two teams from the same county in the Munster senior A colleges hurling championship final.
Cork have had six derby finals since the competition commenced in 1918, while there have been two all-Clare deciders.
What is certain is that there will be a 14th Limerick success in the prestigious competition. Limerick CBS on Sexton Street continue to lead the way with 10 victories between 1920 and 1993. St Munchin’s were winners in 1922, while Ardscoil Ris were champions in 2010 and 2011.
Victory for Scoil na Trionoide Naofa would be a first success for Doon - although they were beaten finalist back in 1931.
Without doubt Saturday is a historic day for Limerick hurling and comes as further proof of the rising standards at underage level and hot on the heels of the 2013 Munster minor success.
Already this season Limerick had a finalist in all four grades of the Munster U-16 colleges championships and are on course to have a finalist in all four U-18 colleges championship finals.
Heady days for underage hurling. On Saturday, 10 players (four Doon, six Ardscoil Ris) bid to add a colleges Munster medal to the inter-county success of July 23 last.
But it’s not all about the two schools in question on Saturday. Eleven different clubs will be represented in the match day panels - Doon, Na Piarsaigh, Pallasgreen, Adare, Cappamore, Patrickswell, Caherline, Murroe-Boher, Claughaun, Mungret and South Liberties.
There is of course a Tipperary and Clare influence but of the 64 players listed on the panel just 16 are beyond the county bounds (nine Ardscoil Ris and seven Doon).
It has been long enough that Limerick were looking towards the likes of St Flannan’s and St Colman’s for Harty involvement, so Saturday’s final is certainly to be celebrated by all in Limerick.
And, of course both of Saturday’s finalists will progress to the All-Ireland series in search of a first Croke Cup for Limerick since the 1960s.
The bookies make Ardscoil Ris the hottest of 1/6 favourites. Doon are listed at 9/2, but this final is certainly a lot more evenly matched that these odds.
Doon will have four key players - Thomas Hayes, Stephen Ryan, Colin Ryan and Dean Coleman.
Attempting to overshadow them and swing the game the Ardscoil direction are Cian Lynch, Ronan Lynch, Michael Casey, Barry Fitzpatrick and Cian O’Brien.
Ardscoil were 3-9 to 0-9 winners when these sides met in the quarter-final last year. It should be tighter this time but the city side still apper to hold the aces.
ARDSCOIL RIS PANEL - Michael Andrews (Na Piarsaigh), Gordon Browne (Na Piarsaigh), Michael Casey (Na Piarsaigh), Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh), Peadar Collins (Na Piarsaigh), Eoghan Costelloe (Adare), Colin Crehan (O’Callaghan Mills), Kieran Daly (Na Piarsaigh), Jack English (Adare), Conor Fitzgerald (Claughaun), Barry Fitzpatrick (Sixmilebridge), John Flynn (Patrickswell), Nathan Fox (Parteen), Ian Galvin (Clonlara), Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), Thomas Grimes (Na Piarsaigh), Sean Hogan (Adare), Conor Houlihan (Na Piarsaigh), Fionn Larkin (Clonlara), Cian Lynch (Patrickswell), Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), Michael Mackey (Adare), Charlie McCarthy (Adare), Alex Morey (Sixmilebridge), Eoghan Mulcahy (Mungret), Niall Mulcahy (Mungret), Cian O’Brien (Mungret), Evan O’Brien (Na Piarsaigh), Josh O’Halloran (Na Piarsaigh), Micheal O’Loughlin (Clonlara), Paraic O’Loughlin (Clonlara), Sean Phelan (Broadford), Eoin Quilty (South Liberties), Eoin Ryan (Adare).
DOON PANEL- Shane Stapleton (Sean Treacys), Brian McPartland (Doon), Jack Cummins (Doon), Darren Roche (Pallasgreen), Brian McCarthy (Pallasgreen), Stephen Ryan (Doon), Shane O’Connell (Doon), Mike Dee (Murroe-Boher), Patrick Cummins (Doon), Colin Ryan (Pallasgreen), Fiachra O’Grady (Doon), Dean Coleman (Doon), Joe Lonergan (Cappamore), David Buckley (Cappawhite), Barry Murphy (Doon), Shane Murphy (Pallasgreen), Adam Coleman (Cappamore), Matt Feehan (Sean Treacys), Anthony Foley (Cappamore), Thomas Hayes (Doon), Tadhg Whelan (Doon), Robbie Quirke (Cappawhite), Mark Coleman (Doon), Mikey Leahy (Cappawhite), Bernard Kennedy (Caherline), Dylan O’Dwyer (Doon), Darragh Clancy (Cappawhite), David Lonergan (Cappamore), Alan Cosgrave (Pallasgreen).