Doon’s Injury Crisis, Nap Lose, Group Two Favourites | SHC Round One Talking Points

While there were a couple of close calls in the top tier, the results in group two were very one-sided with Ballybrown, Adare and Mungret St Pauls all recording resounding wins.

It was an exciting start to the 2023 Limerick Senior Hurling Championship with the reigning champions beaten by the Hurler of the Year boosted Patrickswell in round one. Kilmallock also laid down a marker as they seek to win back a championship they won in ’21.

With the second round just around the corner, we look at the talking points to emerge from the first weekend of action.

How will Doon cope with injuries?

Even for a team that has featured in the semi-finals for each of the last six years, the loss of all first choice defenders looks to be an insurmountable one for Doon. Key to their defence has been Richie English and after suffering an ACL injury in the build up to the All-Ireland final, he will not feature for them in the championship. Mikey O’Brien and Tommy Hayes have also won All-Ireland medals but were absent in round one and probably won’t make it back for this weekend. Chris Thomas was an underage star with Limerick in the corner and he is another on the shelf. Josh Ryan was injured in last year’s semi-final and is unlikely to have any part to play in this year’s campaign.

16 August 2022; Shane O’Brien of Kilmallock celebrates after the Limerick County Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final match between Kilmallock and Doon at Bruff GAA Club in Bruff, Limerick. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Each loss is a huge one for Doon and the absentees aren’t limited to defence with Barry Murphy also out in round one, as was fellow forward Dean Coleman. Unsurprisingly, Kilmallock took advantage of an understrength Doon but what was shocking perhaps was the margin of victory. It finished 3-22 to 0-12 in the Balbec’s favour with Adam English accounting for the majority of Doon’s scores from placed balls.

It was a grim start and with a confident Patrickswell up next, things don’t look to be getting any easier for the East outfit who will hope that rookies learned from the harsh opening round lesson.

Will Na Piarsaigh bounce back immediately?

Even with William O’Donoghue, David Dempsey and Jerome Boylan, Na Piarsaigh’s loss to Patrickswell would have come as a but of shock to the Limerick faithful. The Caherdavin men have been pretty much imperious in the group stages over the last decade but were second best in a repeat of last year’s semi-final. Twelve months ago they were twice dominant against the same opposition but a rejuvenated Patrickswell were fully deserving of their victory.

How Na Piarsaigh bounce back will be the big question and they will need to answer it this Friday against a wounded Kildimo Pallaskenry outfit. After starting brightly in Claughaun, Nap seemed to lose their way and found the supply of ball into Peter Casey far too restricted with the All-Star held scoreless for the final 50 minutes after hitting 1-2 early on.

6 October 2019; Peter Casey of Na Piarsaigh in action against Nigel Foley of Patrickswell during the Limerick County Senior Club Hurling Championship Final match between Na Piarsaigh and Patrickswell at LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

His form in that early part is a reason to believe that Na Piarsaigh will have too much for KP but they will need to go back to their gameplan that appeared to go missing against the Well. Conditions played their part but with rain likely to fall in the same venue on Friday, it could be an opportunity for Kildimo Pallaskenry.

The return of O’Donoghue or Dempsey would be a massive addition and while the game presents the ideal chance for Nap to regroup, it is a potential banana skin.

Group Two contenders lay down a marker

While there were a couple of close calls in the top tier, the results in group two were very one-sided with Ballybrown, Adare and Mungret St Pauls all recording resounding wins to kick start their campaign. Mungret were the biggest winners where 18-points separated them and South Liberties while Adare and Ballybrown both recorded 13-point margins of victory.

Statement victories.

Colin Coughlan gets a clearance off against Brian O’Meara in the 2022 Limerick SHC clash between Mungret St Pauls and Ballybrown. CREDIT: Wanda Dwane

How they build on those will be the major question with Ballybrown and Adare facing off this Sunday in Askeaton. The City men started last year like a train with back to back wins, both of those as impressive as each other but were stalled by a last minute KP goal in round three. They couldn’t regain their rhythm to miss out, not only on promotion but also the quarters. They will be desperate to rectify that but against Adare, who were in group one last year, that will be difficult. Adare will feel they are good enough to play in the top group but will need to beat Ballybrown if they are to take pole spot in the race for promotion.

As for Mungret, in their second year back in the senior ranks, they look to have learned from last year but face a tricky opponent in Garryspillane, one of two teams that beat them in 2022. If they avenge that result, they will fancy their chances of qualifying for the top two at the least.

Limerick SHC Round Two Fixtures

Group 1

Doon V Patrickswell, Thursday August 10th in Kilmallock at 7.00pm
Na Piarsaigh V Kildimo Pallaskenry, Friday August 11th in Claughaun at 7.00pm
Kilmallock V Ahane, Thursday August 10th in Doon at 7.00pm

Group 2

Ballybrown V Adare, Sunday August 13th in Askeaton at 1.00pm
Garryspillane V Mungret St Paul’s, Friday August 11th in Cappamore at 7.00pm
South Liberties V Monaleen, Saturday August 12th in Caherconlish at 2.00pm

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