JUST over seven weeks after they were crowned champions of Ireland, Na Piarsaigh return to matters local this weekend as they set out in defence of their Limerick, Munster and All Ireland SHC club titles.
Not surprisingly the Caherdavin men are short-priced favourties to retain the Daly Cup but that feat hasn’t been accomplished since Adare 2007-2009.
Since that Adare three-in-a-row, Na Piarsaigh and Kilmallock have shared the six titles.
Patrickswell, Adare and Ahane have contested Limerick SHC finals over the past six years but no one has been able to break the stranglehold of the ‘big two’.
For Limerick SHC Roll of Honours leaders Ahane (2004) and Patrickswell (2003) the ‘famine’ continues to stretch.
Once again the championship is divided into two groups of six teams, with the top team guaranteed a semi final and the second and third paced teams into quarter finals. The bottom team in each group after the five round robin games will be relegated to the Premier IHC for 2017.
The champions are in Group 1 with Kilmallock, Doon, South Liberties, Ballybrown and newly promoted Bruree.
In Group 2 are Patrickswell, Adare, Ahane, Murroe-Boher, Bruff and newly promoted Knockainey.
Results of recent seasons would point to Na Piarsaigh, Kilmallock and Doon advancing to the business end from Group 1 and therefore it falls to Ballybrown, South Liberties or Bruree to create a shock along the way. The opening round clash of Ballybrown and Liberties could very well put one of this duo in position to mount such a challenge.
In Group 2 the form lines would place Patrickswell, Adare and Ahane as the trio to advance. Murroe-Boher play Ahane in round one and this could be pivotal if there is to be an upset in the gradings.
While the structures stay the same, the championship gets a new sponsor in the Credit Union.
As well as a change of sponsors there will be a number of familiar faces absent across the 12 clubs. Especially in Ahane, where John, Brian and Patrick Meskell and Cathal O’Reilly have all retired. Murroe-Boher have retirements took with Willie and Kevin Tobin calling it a day. Cruciate ligament injuries deny Sean Finn and Colin Madden (both Bruff), and David Byrnes (Ballybrown), while Dean Coleman (Doon) and Seanie Tobin (Murroe-Boher) is also on the sidelines at present.
On top of that the likes of Tom Ryan (South Liberties), Liam Ryan (Doon) and Fergus Ahern (Ahane) are all gone abroad since last season.
For TJ Ryan and his Limerick senior hurling management the opening two rounds of action will allow opportunity to access the form of players with 26 of the 33-man inter-county panel plying their trade in the Limerick SHC. It’s no surprise that the bulk of that comes from the leading contenders – Na Piarsaigh (7), Kilmallock (4), Patrickswell (4) and 3 each for Adare and Doon. Just three senior clubs, Ballybrown, Bruree and Knockainey, don’t have representatives on the Limerick senior panel.
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager: Paul Keane, Backroom team: Donncha Sheehan, Timmy Houlihan, Colm Cribben, Seanie Brennan.
KEY PLAYERS: Declan Hannon, Wayne McNamara, John Fitzgibbon, Willie Griffin.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Mikey Mackey, Sean Hogan, Eoin Ryan, Mark Connolly.
ROUND ONE: Adare v Patrickswell, Sunday May 8 in Bruff at 7.15pm.
ROUND TWO: Adare v Ahane, Saturday May 14 in Bruff at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager-Coach: Maurice O'Brien, Selectors: Davy Givens, Seanie O’Connor, Ger Mulcahy, Strength and Conditioning: Paudie Carey, Liaison Officer: Colm Barry.
CAPTAIN: John Fox.
KEY PLAYERS: Niall Moran, Dan, Tom and Paddy Morrissey, Mike Carr.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Ciaran O’Meara, Paul and Mark O’Halloran.
ROUND ONE: Ahane v Murroe-Boher, Sunday May 8 in Caherconlish at 7.15pm.
ROUND TWO: Ahane v Adare, Saturday May 14 in Bruff at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager Evan Loftus, Coach: Dave Bulfin, Selector: Pat Gavin, Strength and Conditioning: Mike Lynch, Statistician: Robert Graham.
CAPTAIN: Stevie O’Reilly.
KEY PLAYERS: Alan O’Connor, Shane Kenny, Ross Griffin, James Hall.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Josh Adams, Cian Hedderman.
ROUND ONE: Ballybrown v South Liberties, Saturday May 7 in Claughaun at 7.15pm.
ROUND TWO: Ballybrown v Bruree, Friday May 13 in Newcastle West at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager: Mike O’Hara, Coach: Francis Browne, Selector: Tom McCarthy
KEY PLAYERS: Paul Browne, Brian Finn, Dean Madden, John Cooke.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Kyle Dillon, James O’Riordan.
ROUND ONE: Bruff v Knockainey, Sunday May 8 in Kilmallock at 5.00pm.
ROUND TWO: Bruff v Patrickswell, Sunday May 15 in Claughaun at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager: Seamus O'Connell, Coach Liam Reale, Selector: Brendan Hogan.
CAPTAIN: Jimmy O’Dea.
KEY PLAYERS: Kieran O’Rourke, Ger O’Brien, Kieran O’Dea, Michael Lane.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Tommy Cronnolly, Dara O’Driscoll.
ROUND ONE: Bruree v Doon v Bruree, Saturday May 7 in Hospital at 5.00pm.
ROUND TWO: Bruree v Ballybrown, Friday May 13 in Newcastle West at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager-Coach: Declan Carr, Selectors: Paddy Coleman, Tom Murphy. Strength and Conditioning: Barry Fitzpatrick.
KEY PLAYERS: Richie English, Darragh O’Donovan, Pat Ryan, Cathal McNamara.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Josh Ryan, Dean Coleman, Barry Murphy.
ROUND ONE: Doon v Bruree, Saturday May 7 in Hospital at 5.00pm.
ROUND TWO: Doon v Na Piarsaigh, Saturday May 14 in Caherconlish at 7.15pm
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager: James Connery, Coach: Ger Downes, Strength and Conditioning-Selector: Adrian O’Brien, Selector: Mike Heelan.
CAPTAIN: Robbie Egan, vice-captain: Kevin O’Donnell.
KEY PLAYERS: Gavin O’Mahony, Paudie O’Brien, Graeme Mulcahy, Barry Hennessy.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Oisin O’Reilly, Ciaran O’Connor, Anthony Barrett.
ROUND ONE: Kilmallock v Na Piarsaigh, Sunday May 8 in Newcastle West at 7.00pm
ROUND TWO: Kilmallock v South Liberties, Saturday May 14 in Bruff at 5.45pm.
MANAGEMENT: Manager-coach: Natal O’Grady, Michael Walsh, Donnacha O’Brien.
CAPTAIN: Dermot Walsh.
KEY PLAYERS: Nigel Finch, Patrick Kirby, Padraic Barron, Kieran Cleary.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Jack O’Grady.
ROUND ONE: Knockainey v Bruff, Sunday May 8 in Kilmallock at 5.00pm.
ROUND TWO: Knockainey v Murroe-Boher, Sunday May 15 in Caherconlish at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Manager-coach: Ger Bradley.
CAPTAIN: Declan Kett
KEY PLAYERS: Seanie Tobin, Seamus Hickey, Mikey Ryan, Conor Byrnes.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Aaron Kennedy, Brian Timmons, Finn Hourigan.
ROUND ONE: Murroe-Boher v Ahane v Murroe-Boher, Sunday May 8 in Caherconlish at 7.15pm.
ROUND TWO: Murroe-Boher v Knockainey v Murroe-Boher, Sunday May 15 in Caherconlish at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Manager: Shane O’Neill, Selector: Kieran Bermingham, Coach: Alan Cunningham, Strength and Conditioning: Darragh Droog.
CAPTAIN: Cathall King.
KEY PLAYERS: Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes, Ronan Lynch, Alan Dempsey.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Peter Casey, Thomas Grimes, Conor Boylan.
ROUND ONE: Na Piarsaigh v Kilmallock, Sunday May 8 in Newcastle West at 7.00pm
ROUND TWO: Na Piarsaigh v Doon, Saturday May 14 in Caherconlish at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager: Gary Kirby, Coach: Declan Fitzgerald, Strength and Conditioning: Ross Corbett, Selector: John O'Brien.
KEY PLAYERS: Diarmaid Byrnes, Cian Lynch, Seanie, Thomas and Kevin O’Brien.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Aaron Gillane, John Flynn.
ROUND ONE: Patrickswell v Adare, Sunday May 8 in Bruff at 7.15pm.
ROUND TWO: Patrickswell v Bruff, Sunday May 15 in Claughaun at 7.15pm.
MANAGEMENT: Management: Manager: John Leamy, Coach: Tommy Dunne, Selectors : Sean Godfrey, Mike Grimes and Cathal O’Neill, Strength and Conditioning: Lukasz Kirszenstein.
CAPTAIN: William Hickey.
KEY PLAYERS: Barry Nash, Shane O’Neill, Brian Ryan.
YOUNG PLAYERS: Conor McSweeney, Eoin Quilty, Brian Nash.
ROUND ONE: South Liberties v Ballybrown, Saturday May 7 in Claughaun at 7.15pm.
ROUND TWO: South Liberties v Kilmallock v South Liberties, Saturday May 14 in Bruff at 5.45pm.