Adrian Breen MOTM in the SHC final last weekend
There were no unanswered questions after last Sundays County Final. Quite simply Na Piarsaigh blew Kilmallock away.
The five point margin at the end did little justice to the gap between the teams. Na Piarsaigh were miles ahead and Kilmallock had no answers. They never came close to matching what Na Piarsaigh had to offer, they were sluggish in their play, they were slow to the ball but most of all they didn’t seem to have any game plan.
This was a poor game of hurling and at no stage did it look like we were going to have a game of some quality.
There was a bit of edge between these teams and we didn’t have to wait too long for it to come out. It blew up in front of the Mackey Stand and before we knew it there was a large number of players involved in a free for all. We had hoped that this might light a badly needed fire for the game but if it did it was Na Piarsaigh that produced the most flames after it.
From the very start Na Piarsaigh looked sharp, they hit some good points and set a tone that Kilmallock were always following.
It will take Kilmallock a while to come to terms with this defeat. They didn’t show up and for the most part they lost nearly all of the battles. Kilmallock needed some of their more experienced players to stand up and take ownership but that never happened.
In contrast Na Piarsaigh could hardly do a thing wrong. This is an experienced outfit and they showed some character in the way they went about their work. It’s the sign of a good team when they make things look easy and what we saw from Na Piarsaigh is a team very much in control. They have a blend of experience and youth and those younger players are starting to make their presence felt.
Take Jerome Boylan for example, playing in his first final didn’t phase him. He did really well and this after playing with his school in the Harty Cup earlier in the week.
As a game it lacked energy and passion and from the outset Na Piarsaigh took control, they led by double scores at halftime and it could have been more.
Kilmallock had a few frees from Eoin Ryan but like others his general contribution from play was poor. Kilmallock only managed two points in the fifteen minutes before halftime and I think most people felt it would take something special from them to trouble Na Piarsaigh in the second half.
Instead what we saw was a whirlwind start from Na Piarsaigh. Three points in a row from Ronan Lynch, Kevin Downes and Adrian Breen. The margin was now ten points and by the 47th minute it had stretched further when David Dempsey scored a cracking goal and they led 1-18 to 0-11.
From this point on Na Piarsaigh took their foot off the gas, they started to introduce subs and in general the contest was over. Kilmallock did score a couple of goals just before normal and injury time and those scores helped to take the sting from what was a very bleak scoreboard.
One would have to have been impressed with Na Piarsaigh. They looked really sharp and the quality of their first touch will make them hard to beat in the Munster Club.
They will face Blackrock of Cork who will play divisional side Imokilly in next Sundays County Final.
Kilmallock would have felt they were in a good place going into this game but the response from Na Piarsaigh was quite emphatic. The All Ireland club champions of two years ago played with great confidence and this win will only add to that. One of the biggest problems Kilmallock had was they were unable to cope with the movement and pace of Na Piarsaigh.
This was Na Piarsaigh’s fourth title, winning first in 2011 and followed in 2013, 2015. They have dominated the past few years and when you look at some of the players they have coming through it looks like a golden era for them. This win saw many players shine, I mentioned Jerome Boylan earlier but Niall Buckley also did very well. He plays very traditional but is really solid. I thought the half back line of Tom Grimes, Cathal King and Alan Dempsey were always in control.
Adrian Breen led the attack and it will be a major surprise if this lad is not called into the county setup. He is at the right age now and has built a serious physical presence. Getting man of the match in finals is becoming a habit for him and he is ready now for the next phase in his development.
Overall it has been a poor enough year for senior club hurling in the county. The gap is getting wider between the strong and weak and we can only hope that some effort will be made to halt the slide.
Na Piarsaigh are worthy champions and they could be set for another long run in the club championship. I would expect them to beat Blackrock in the Munster semi final and right now you would have to favour Thurles Sarsfields of Tipperary coming through from the other side.
Garryspillane came back from the dead to force a draw against Murroe Boher in what was a cracking Premier hurling final. For drama and more this game kept supporters on their feet and credit to Garryspillane for finding a way back. They looked in real trouble as Murroe Boher looked to have closed the game out. It took a major effort from everyone but two goals from frees by Colin Ryan made sure these teams will have to meet again. Murroe Boher were in the driving seat and they will be very annoyed with themselves for letting this one slip. They were cruising and had a nice cushion at halftime when they led 0-13 to 1-4.
This game had plenty of action other than hurling and referee Jason Mullins was busy to say the least. He made some calls that really angered Garryspillane but in his defence no referee should have to put up with what was presented to him last Sunday. Has he had better days I would think so but his job was not made easy by some of the actions of those involved with the teams.
Garryspillane came back because they never stopped working and they will feel they have more to get from themselves in the replay.
The entire county was shocked last week when the news broke that Leo Morrison had passed away. He was widely respected by so many and hundreds turned up to pay respects to a man that had given his life for the love of the GAA . He was a man of great quality, honest to the core but most of all a man that was not afraid to speak his mind. I had such respect for him and will miss him greatly. Next week I will pay due respects to a man that gave so much in the name of the GAA. To his family and friends I off my sincere sympathy. May he rest in peace.