THERE are 12 top hurling ties across the top four tiers of Limerick club hurling this weekend.
Top billing goes to two double-headers.
On Saturday four clubs battle for senior status in a Premier IHC semi final double-bill in Kilmallock, while on Sunday the Gaelic Grounds hosts two Limerick SHC quarter finals.
Ahane v Ballybrown
Sunday September 25 in the Gaelic Grounds at 2.00
Ballybrown arrive in the last six undefeated with four wins and a draw, while Ahane lost three times, winning twice.
Therefore no surprise that the Clarina men are 8/15 favourites with Ahane listed at 7/4 to advance to a semi final meeting with Adare on October 2 at 2.00 in the Gaelic Grounds.
Former Limerick and Dublin hurler Maurice O’Brien is manager of Ahane, who have experienced campaigners Ollie Moran, John Meskell and David Laing back in their ranks in recent weeks.
Ballybrown, with Evan Loftus as manager, have scored 15 goals to reach this position and beat champions Na Piarsaigh in their final group game, while Ahane lost to Knockainey.
Doon v Patrickswell
Sunday September 25 in the Gaelic Grounds at 3.45
Patrickswell were beaten county finalists twelve months ago, while Doon lost out at the quarter final stage to Kilmallock.
Both are under new managements this season. Back in 1991 Limerick lost to Tipperary in the Munster SHC – Gary Kirby scored five points but was on the losing side, 2-18 to 0-10 as the Declan Carr captained Premier County were on their way to All Ireland honours. This Sunday Kirby and Carr are opposing managers.
While Patrickswell appear close to full strength with Cian Lynch and Diarmaid Byrnes back after the Summer in the US, Doon will be without Richie English and Cathal McNamara and teenager Josh Ryan is also a doubt.
Kilmallock await the winners of this game, on October 2 at 3,45 in the Gaelic Grounds, in the semi finals and the bookies make the men in blue and gold the 4/6 favourites with their eastern opponents available at 6/4.
While Doon were among the early pace-setters they suffered a Limerick U-21 hurling final defeat last weekend and in the county senior championship lost their final two group games.
Cappamore v Garryspillane
Saturday September 24 in Kilmallock at 2.30
Garryspillane have lost out at the semi final stage for the last two seasons since their senior relegation in 2013 and in this tie face a Cappamore side seeking a third promotion in six seasons.
Experienced Ryan brothers Donie and David, Kieran Hickey and inter-county man James Ryan lead the way for the south Limerick men. A number of the Garryspillane team were to be in action this Wednesday night in the colours of Galbally, who play Castlemahon in the quarter final of the Limerick IFC.
Cappamore, who are coached by former Monaleen hurler Tony Power, back on the promotion trail – they won the junior hurling title in 2011 and were only promoted to the Premier IHC this time last season when they won the Limerick IHC with a final win over Feohanagh.
Blackrock v Monaleen
Saturday September 24 in Kilmallock at 4.15
Monaleen bid to end 10 years outside of the senior hurling ranks, while the Blackrock wait is longer.
Monaleen were last in the senior ranks in 2006. They could be without inspirational centre back Brian Geary. The former inter-county man was sent off in last weekend’s win over Feohanagh and it remains to be seen if he will appeal that red card.
Geary, Damien Cosgrave and Shane Mullane provide the experience in a Monaleen team, managed by former Clare All-Ireland U-21 winning selector Jimmy Browne.
Cosgrave is in his 21st season playing adult hurling with the club, Mullane his 20th and Geary has 19 years service in the red and white.
Monaleen are one of a number of clubs still chasing honours on two fronts. On October 2 they play neighbours St Patricks in the semi final of the Limerick SFC. Ger Collins, Ed Doyle and John O’Dwyer are starting players in both their sides.
This time last year Monaleen also reached the Limerick Premier IHC semi final but lost to Bruree after a replay.
Their Opponents are 2010 All Ireland JAHC winners Blackrock. The Kilfinane based side lost the 2014 semi final of the Premier IHC. The Rockies will look to inter-county man Richie McCarthy and free-taker Paudie Leahy to guide them to the final.