OUTSIDERS Ahane are the 2014 Limerick premier minor hurling champions after a 0-11 to 0-10 win over Na Piarsaigh in this replay in the Gaelic Grounds.
Sunday’s one point win over Na Piarsaigh was the first time since 1991 that the famed club collected U-18 hurling honours.
Despite topping the Limerick SHC roll of honour with 19 titles, this is only Ahane’s fourth minor crown - 1929, 1940, 1991 and 2014.
Over the drawn game and replay there can be no complaints but that Ahane are deserving champions.
Na Piarsaigh battled back with five successive late points to ensure this replay in the drawn game two weeks ago.
But yesterday in the Gaelic Grounds there was no denying the men in green and gold.
It was fitting that Tom Morrissey scored the winner.
Just a week after he was honoured as the Munster Minor Hurler of the Year, Morrissey finished with all bar one point of his side’s total.
The winning score came in the dying seconds of normal time. The sides were deadlocked for the fifth time at 0-10 each when Ahane won a ‘65.
Morrissey showed great composure to fire over the resulting ‘65 to ensure success for the Davy Givens managed side.
But they had heroes all over the field, no more so than Tom’s twin brother Paddy, Paul O’Halloran, Evan Enright and Shane Hackett.
Although it was December 21 the surface was in fine condition and aided an enthralling end-to-end contest.
Watched by 749 in the Mackey Stand, Na Piarsaigh started the better.
Backed by the first half wind they set the ball rolling with three successive points from key men Ronan Lynch, Conor Houlihan and Peter Casey.
But Ahane were quick to react to the early dominance of the Caherdavin men and placed Paul O’Halloran as an extra man in defence - as he had done throughout the drawn encounter.
Morrissey had Ahane off the mark in the fourth minute but a Kieran Daly point had Na Piarsaigh 0-4 to 0-1 clear with 12-minutes played.
But the 2011 champions were only to score another one point in the remaining 18-minutes of the half - a 19th minute Lynch free.
By the game’s 17th minute Ahane were level 0-4 each, with James Tuohy getting the score to level after a superb solo forward by captain Paddy Morrissey.
Two late score from Tom Morrissey had Ahane 0-6 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
But it could have been a greater lead.
In the 30th minute Morrissey saw his penalty saved by Conor Houlihan.
And, goalkeeper Eoghan Foley had denied Paul O’Halloran (ninth minute) and Morrissey (25th minute) goals.
The second half was tit-for-tat.
Tom Morrissey was to score all five of the Ahane second half points - two from play.
Conor Houlihan had the sides five minutes into the second half at 0-7 each.
Morrissey edged Ahane back in front but again Na Piarsaigh levelled when Ronan Lynch, now at full forward, fired over.
When Lynch added a free the teenagers in light blue were ahead for the first time since the 19th minute of the opening half.
That was the game’s 41st minute - Na Piarsaigh were to score just once more in the remaining 19-minutes.
But that point from Peter Casey had them 0-10 to 0-9 ahead with 11-minutes to play.
Almost immediately Morrissey levelled for the fifth level.
Then came a tense final 10-minutes.
Both sides had chances to win - Ahane finished with eight wides and Na Piarsaigh seven.
The winner came on the stroke of 60-minutes when Morrissey scored from a ‘65, which like so much of the two games had been forced by a high work rate and intensity from new champions Ahane.
SCORERS: Ahane: Tom Morrissey 0-10 (5frees, 1 ‘65), James Tuohy 0-1. Na Piarsaigh: Ronan Lynch 0-5 (3frees), Conor Houlihan and Peter Casey 0-2 each, Kieran Daly 0-1.
AHANE: Adam O’Brien; Ciaran Barry, Evan Enright, Michael Fox, Shane Hackett, Paddy Morrissey, Colum Carroll; Ciaran O’Mara, James Tuohy; Michael Power, Paul O’Halloran, Mark O’Halloran; Aaron Hackett, Tom Morrissey, Patrick Minihan. Subs: Dan Minihan for Michael Fox (38mins), McAuley Murtagh for Patrick Minihan (57mins).
NA PIARSAIGH: Eoghan Foley; Michael Andrews, Peader Collins, David Broderick; Jerome Boylan, Thomas Grimes, Robbie Graham; Evan O’Brien, Ronan Lynch; Conor Boylan, Kieran daly, Kevin Daly; Marcus McMenemy, Conor Houlihan, Peter Casey. Sub: Joe Gleeson for Kevin Daly (h-t).
REFEREE: Justin Daly (Kildimo-Pallaskenry.