FACT files on all 12 clubs competing in the Limerick SHC which gets underway this week.
Management: Ger Hegarty (manager).
Last season: Third in group one behind Doon and Ahane before losing to Kilmallock 0-24 to 2-14 in the county quarter-final in the Gaelic Grounds. Adare Qualified for the knock out stages ahead of Patrickswell and Murroe-Boher.
However, they will look to improve on the three wins they got last season this time round.
Key man: Wayne McNamara. A real leader for Adare will most likely play the majority of the championship at centre back. McNamara’s experience at the highest level will also be a big advantage for the west division side.
One to watch: Jody Hannon. The younger Hannon brother impressed many people last year and will hope to make headlines this campaign as part of a successful Adare side. Played midfield last year and will more than likely stay at the centre of the park.
One to follow on Twitter: Declan Hannon (@DecHannon)
Fixtures: Round 1 – Ballybrown, round 2 – Na Piarsaigh, round 3 – Bruff, round 4 – Croom, round 5 - Doon
Prospects: The west Limerick side may well be slightly offended by the odds of 15/2 beside their name in the bookies.
The west Limerick side will be keen to top the group and get a bye in the semi-final. Beaten finalists in 2013 and 2012, Adare will be more than hopeful of featuring in the business end of the championship come the autumn and keep their record of always making it past the group stage of the competition.
Management: Eamonn Meskell (manager), Paddy Ryan and Davy Givens (selectors) and Phelim Macken (trainer).
Last season: Lost 4-20 to 0-8 to Na Piarsaigh in the semi final. They had beaten South Liberties in the quarter final.
In the group stages, Ahane were also inconsistent beating Patrickswell, losing to Doon, beating Adare and Murroe-Boher and losing to Knockainey.
Key man: Niall Moran may have felt thathe didn’t have enough to offer on the inter-county front nad therefore stepped away from TJ Ryan’s panel early in the league but he showed last year that his form is central to Ahane’s progress. On and off the field his influence can be huge on this current young panel.
One to watch: Tom Morrissey hasn’t see a lot of game time with the Limerick seniors but remains one very much for the future. The inter-county training should stand him in good stead for the club scene and defenders will be high alert to this ball winning, score getting attacker.
One to follow on Twitter: John Meskell - @johmmeskell
Pretty much sport all the way from the experienced Ahane defender.
Fixtures: Round 1 - Kilmallock, Round 2 - Effin, Round 3 - Patrickswell, Round 4 - Murroe-Boher, Round 5 - South Liberties.
Prospects: A return to the knockout stages will be the target for the men from the Castleconnell parish.
Eamonn Meskell won’t leave anything to chance for his charges and bringing in successful minor manager Davy Givens as a selector is a key indicator that youth will see game time over the next two seasons.
The knockout route could be decided by their two final round games against east division rivals.
Management: Eoin Brislane (manager)
Last season: Finished fifth in group one, avoiding relegation due to their superior head to head record with Granagh-Ballingarry, despite having a worse scoring average than the west Limerick men. After winning one game in the group stage, Ballybrown were beaten by rivals Patrickswell 3-22 to 2-17 in the county cup.
Key Man: Alan O’Connor. The veteran of the team will have a huge impact in determining whether or not Ballybrown stay up or if they can even push for a play-off spot. Between his experience and his free taking ability, in O’Connor, Ballybrown have a serious operator. O’Connor has over the years developed a reputation as being possibly the best ball striker in the club game in Limerick.
One to Watch: Shane Kenny. Midfielder Shane Kenny is one to keep an eye on for Ballybrown. Playing in the middle of the park, he will look to dictate the pace of the game. Kenny could be in for a big year.
One to follow on Twitter: @BallybrownGAA for regular updates on the city clubs games, at all levels.
Fixtures: Round 1 - Adare; Round 2 - Croom; Round 3 - Na Piarsaigh; Round 4 - Doon; Round 5 - Bruff
Prospects: Eighth favourites with the bookies for the Daly Cup, Ballybrown are a 28/1 chance to win Limerick sports biggest prize. Avoided relegation on head to head last year and will target the matches against the new boys to ensure senior status is maintained for 2016. A berth in the quarter-final of the county championship would be a bonus for the club.
Management: Fergie O’Loughlin (manager/coach), Michael Weekes, Danny Moloney and Paddy Mulcahy (selectors).
Last season: Winners of the first ever Premier IHC, Bruff came out on top after a gruelling campaign. They won five games out of seven on the group stage losing only to Blackrock and Garryspillane. They redeemed the defeat to the Bouncers in the semi-final before defeating Croom 2-14 to 0-16 in the decider.
Key man: Paul Browne. Browne has an incredible engine and will run up and down the field for the full hour.
His distribution into a strong full forward line was a standout feature in last year’s championship. If Bruff are to make the step up to senior hurling smoothly, they will need big performances from Paul Browne in the middle of the park.
One to watch: Sean Finn. The goal scoring abilities of Finn were a huge plus las season. His eye for goal may have surprised a few as he played at corner back for the Limerick minor team that made it to the All-Ireland final in 2014.
It will be interesting to see how Finn adjusts to senior hurling
One to follow on Twitter: Kyle Dillon (@kylejamesdillon)
Fixtures: Round 1 - Croom; Round 2- Doon; Round 3 - Adare; Round 4 - Na Piarsaigh; Round 5 - Ballybrown
Prospects: Bruff will be quietly confidant of putting down a solid year. Although the bookmakers have them a 33/1 shot to win the title, Bruff will feel that the knock-out stages are not beyond them.
First things first, however, Bruff will look to get the two wins that should keep maintain their senior status before they look to the knock out stages.
Management: John Cahill (manager), Keith Cregan, Rat Twomey, Pat Carroll (selectors).
Last season: Runners-up in the Premier IHC, Croom will have been relieved to have bounced straight back to senior hurling – to only team of the four relegated to do so. Croom secured promotion when they defeated Blackrock in the county semi-final replay after extra time after finishing fourth in the group stage.
Key man: Conor Allis. While Croom have a number of former county players with great experience, the Maigue-siders will be looking to their current county man to lead by example. A good season from Allis is imperative to Croom’s chances of having a successful year.
One to watch: Mark Reidy. Reidy really made a name for himself last year proving himself very capable at both codes. He certainly has the skill set to add to his reputation at senior level. Reidy is a player corner backs around the county will not enjoy marking.
One to follow on Twitter: Conor Allis - @C_Allis
Fixtures: Round 1 - Bruff; Round 2 - Ballybrown; Round 3 - Doon; Round 4 - Adare; Round 5 - Na Piarsaigh
Prospects: Bookies have Croom 11th out of the dozen teams at 50/1 to win the title. In reality, the south Limerick outfit will just be looking to stay up in 2015 and give themselves a platform to build on. The three games against Blackrock last year (including one in the group stage) showed Croom’s ability to grind out a result – this is a quality they will need this year. Need to win one of their first two games.
Management: James Donovan (manager), Sean Prendergast (coach), Tom Murphy (selector).
Last season: Doon were so close yet so far of reaching the county final losing out to eventual Munster champions Kilmallock after having a 100 percent record in the group last year. However wins over the likes of Patrickswell, Ahane and this season’s opponents Adare will have Doon confidant that they can top the group and get another bye into the county semi-final.
Key man: Cathal McNamara. The big wing back will look to use his physical presence in the middle third of the field. McNamara has experience playing with Limerick at various levels and will need this to help the younger players in the side.
One to watch: Darragh O’Donovan. Wore the number 11 jersey last year and looks set for another campaign in the half forward line. O’Donovan is just one of a number of top young players for the east Limerick side including Richie English and Barry Murphy.
One to follow on Twitter: Richie English (@RichieEnglish). With a young squad there are a number of frequent Twitter users in the Doon camp.
Fixtures: Round 1 - Na Piarsaigh; Round 2 - Bruff; Round 3 - Croom; Round 4 - Ballybrown; Round 5 - Adare
Prospects: Doon are a side who many people feel are the most likely to dethrone to big two of Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh. Third favourites in the eyes of the bookies, Doon seem to be decent value at 6/1 to win the Daly Cup for the very first time. The biggest barrier they face is possibly the physiological one of trying to overcome Na Piarsaigh or Kilmallock.
If they can beat Na Piarsaigh on Friday night, the sky’s the limit for the east Limerick side.
Management: Richard O’Neill (manager), Joe O’Connor (selector) and Fergus Ryan (coach).
Last season: They will look back and regret a slow start when losing to South Liberties in round one. But they hit back to beat Ballybrown and then find creditable displays against kingpins Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh. In the final round they came good to relegate Granagh-Ballingarry. A County Cup title would have been nice to round off the year but they lost the final to Patrickswell after beating Murroe-Boher in the semi final.
Key Man: It’s testament to the displays of Nickie Quaid out field for his clubs that the end of each club championship brings calls for the inter-county goalkeeper to be trailed out field for his county side. Be it centre back or midfield Quaid makes Effin tick. He wins an amount of primary possession and drives his team forward.
One to watch: Jack Quaid is one of the few youngsters to break through in recent times and should come into his own this season in attack or around the middle.
One to follow on Twitter: Nickie Quaid - @NickieQuaid89
Fixtures: Round 1 - Patrickswell, Round 2 - Ahane, Round 3 - South Liberties, Round 4 - Kilmallock, Round 5 - Murroe-Boher
Prospects: Only time will tell how costly the injury to Nickie Quaid will be. Hinders there chances of a winning start but they have beaten competitors in recent times and could again.
Management: Ger O’Loughlin (manager), Adrian O’Brien and Mike Heelan (selectors).
Last season: What a year for The Balbec and one that only ended in Croke Park on March 17 with All Ireland club final defeat to Kilkenny’s Ballyhale Shamrocks. It was a campaign that saw Kilmallock reach great heights, especially in knockout hurling with wins over Adare, Doon, Na Piarsaigh, Sarsfields (Cork) and Cratloe (Clare) enroute to county and Munster honours.
Key Man: Gavin O’Mahony continues to be the spiritual leader of this Kilmallock side. Last year Ger O’Loughlin and management rejuvenated the inter-county man by switching him from centre back to centre forward.
Only the coming months will tell what role O’Mahony will fill as they go about the defence of their crown.
One to watch: Limerick minor hurler Paddy O’Loughlin was introduced to the Kilmallock set-up at the later stages of their 2014 campaign. He plays in defence for the Limerick minors but used in attack to-date for his club senior side.
One to follow on Twitter: Paudie O’Brien - @paudie8
All matters hurling and fitness occupy the tweets of the inter-county hurler.
Fixtures: Round 1 - Ahane, Round 2 - South Liberties, Round 3 - Murroe-Boher, Round 4 - Effin, Round 5 - Patrickswell.
Prospects: Kilmallock (3) and Na Piarsaigh (2) have won the last five titles between them but neither have defended a crown and that’s the target for Kilmallock.
The south Limerick men have 11 titles but only twice defended their crown. There could easily be a hangover from the All Ireland campaign but still are hotly fancied to at least reach the knockout stages at the end of the Summer.
Management: Shane O’Neill (manager), Alan Cunningham (coach), Kieran Bermingham (selector) Darragh Droog (trainer).
Last season: Beaten finalists. Despite beating Kilmallock convincingly in the first round, the Balbec bounced back to beat Na Piarsaigh in the county final. The Caherdavin side hammered Ahane 4-20 to 0-8 in the semi-final after topping Group 2 with five wins out of five.
Scored 14 goals en route to the county final – the only game last year where they failed to find the back of the net.
Key man: The goal scoring threat posed by Kevin Downes will keep full back lines on edge throughout the 2015 championship.
Downes will be hoping to return to his top form this year for both club and county.
One to watch: Ronan Lynch. The youngster was breaking into the side towards the end of last season and will be looking to play a more prominent role this time year.
One to follow on Twitter: Shane Dowling (@dowlerznap)
Fixtures: Round 1 – Doon; Round 2 – Adare; Round 3 – Ballybrown; Round 4 – Bruff; Round 5 – Croom
Prospects: Currently odds-on favourites to reclaim the county title. However, they were in a similar position last year, especially after cruising to victory over Kilmallock in round one. While they will take nothing for granted, they are justifiable favourites for the Daly Cup.
Na Piarsaigh should get out of the group but they will be battle-hardened if they do. However, nothing short of a county title will go down as a bad year for the northsiders.
Management: Darran Moynihan (manager/coach), John Herbert and Mike Holmes (selectors).
Last season: Although they went close on a number of occasions they ultimately won only one game and that was in the first round against eventually relegated Knockainey. They lost to Patrickswell, Doon, Adare and Ahane.
In the County Cup semi final they were beaten by Effin.
Key Man: On the back of his All Star form with Limerick last year was Seamus Hickey’s best season in a while with his club. Filled a variety of roles, including some man marking ones, and did all with aplomb. Just the type of inspirational figure that the club need. At the other end of the field Seanie Tobin rarely appears to let his club side down with an amount of scores from frees and from play.
One to watch: Mike Dee is captain of the club’s current U-21 team, that await a county final replay with Tory Gaels. Dee has played senior for the last couple of seasons but this could be his time to move into a more central role at this level on the back of fine underage pedigree.
One to follow on Twitter: Seanie Tobin - @Tellytobin
The inter-county man is a regular online and offers his own opinions across the sporting world.
Fixtures: Round 1 - South Liberties, Round 2 - Patrickswell, Round 3 - Kilmallock, Round 4 - Ahane, Round 5 - Ahane.
Prospects: The club yearn to reach a quarter final after missing out so agonisingly in the not too distant past.
They know that they can match many of the opponents in this open group but so much could be determined by the result of the opening round game - an eastern derby against South Liberties in Cappamore. The bookies odds would suggest Murroe-Boher will miss out but they will be anxious to prove otherwise.
Management: Ciaran Carey (manager), Mark Foley (trainer), Pat Earls and Pat Carey (selectors).
Last season: Retained the County Cup title after missing out on a championship quarter final spot.
In the group stages they beat Knockainey and Murroe-Boher but lost to Ahane, Doon and Adare.
Beat Ballybrown and Effin to lift the County Cup title.
Key Man: Seanie O’Brien. Now back to full fitness after struggling last year O’Brien offers a host of options. Much interest will focus on where he lines out but ‘The Well’ need to get him on the ball as often as possible.
His brothers Thomas and Kevin and Diarmuid Byrnes are also key men along with returning captain Barry Foley and goalkeeper Brian Murray.
One to Watch: He may be an inter-county man now but Cian Lynch is still just out of minor and should revel in the club scene this season after combining his Leaving Certificate with hurling last year.
One to follow on Twitter: Thomas O’Brien - @tommyob13
The inter-county panellist offers regular opinions and hurling and much more.
Fixtures: Round 1 - Effin, Round 2 - Murroe-Boher, Round 3 - Ahane, Round 4 - South Liberties, Round 5 - Kilmallock.
Prospects: All are anxious to move away from the County Cup and back to contention for Limerick SHC honours. The draw has been favourable with just Kilmallock of the ‘big four’ and the clash with the champions doesn’t arrive until the final round.
After a couple of seasons of inconsistency they need to target early wins to build momentum and confidence that can propel them to a quarter final.