Daly Cup : Na Piarsaigh Captain Cathall King and Kilmallock captain Liam Hurley with the Daly Cup Picture: Keith Wiseman
A final that many would have predicted from the out-set of the Limerick senior hurling championship – a repeat of the 2014, Kilmallock v Na Piarsaigh.
What a prospect – the 2016 All Ireland club champions against the 2015 All Ireland finalists.
Not only the cream of Limerick hurling, but the very best of the cream of club hurling.
Sunday’s Credit Union Limerick SHC Final will involve 10 of the 31-players that were on John Kiely’s championship panel this Summer. The decider will also involve seven recent All Ireland U-21 winners.
All in all, plenty ingredients for a memorable decider.
Last March the bookies had Na Piarsaigh as the 10/11 favourites to lift the Daly Cup and Kilmallock at 4/1. Seven months and six championship games later, Na Piarsaigh are available at 8/15 and Kilmallock 7/4.
The respective paths to the final demonstrate just how little separate Sunday’s finalists.
Kilmallock have used 20 players and Na Piarsaigh 23 – all genuine contenders to see action on county final day, therefore displaying the depth of talent available.
Both have experience and both have youth. Both were absent from last year’s SHC final and therefore, both should have hunger and motivation.
Neither set the world alright in their semi final wins and will feel their is room for improvement. Clearly, whichever hits top form will win.
Na Piarsaigh were without Ronan Lynch, Kieran Kennedy and Conor Boylan in their semi final win over Doon so changes are expected in their line-up. Kilmallock appear to have the more settled until but they too might be tempted to alter with Oisin O’Reilly one possibility to force his way into the attack.
There is no denying the scoring potential in the Na Piarsaigh line-up and with this in mind, Kilmallock may retreat Gavin O’Mahony into the half back line as they did in the semi final against Patrickswell.
Kilmallock have bossed midfield in most games this season and this is an area where Na Piarsaigh haven’t had a settled duo due to a variety of reasons.
Setting the tempo and getting on the forward foot will be the early ambition of both and in this regard midfield and the half back trio are key.
Back in 2014, Kilmallock were 1-14 to 0-15 winners despite playing the entire second half with 14-men. A third minute Eoin Ryan goal had the 5/2 outsiders 1-9 to 0-5 ahead at half time and they held off a second half charge from the city side.
Sunday could be just as tight but Na Piarsaigh appear in pole position to regain the Daly Cup.
The newly crowned Limerick champions wont be in Munster club championship until November 5 when Cork’s Sarsfields or Blackrock are the semi final opponents at a Limerick venue.
Prediction: Na Piarsaigh.
NA PIARSAIGH PANEL: Padraic Kennedy, Jerome Boylan, Mike Casey, Kieran Kennedy; Ronan Lynch, Cathall King, Thomas Grimes, James O’Brien, Conor Houlihan, Mike Foley, Niall Buckley, Gordan Brown, Alan Dempsey, William O’Donoghue, Shane Dowling, Kevin Ryan, David Dempsey, Conor Boylan, Kevin Downes, Kieran Daly, Peter Casey, Adrian Breen, David Breen.
KILMALLOCK PANEL: Barry Hennessy, Adam Costello, Liam Hurley, Mark O’Loughlin, Aaron Costello, Liam Walsh, Philip O’Loughlin, Paddy O’Loughlin, Dan Joy, Ciaran O’Connor, Kevin O’Donnell, Jake Mulcahy, Micheal Houlihan, Robbie Hanley, Gavin O’Mahony, Paudie O’Brien, David Woulfe, Oisin O’Reilly, Graeme Mulcahy, Eoin Ryan.
REFEREE: Donnacha O’Callaghan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon)