Limerick SHC Preview: Group 1
The cut and thrust of Limerick Senior Hurling Championship is back. Local rivalries renewed, the clash of county team mates and the struggle to make it to the knock out stages in the Autumn will commence this weekend.
And as the 2017 Championship gets into full swing, there are some big talking points. Will Na Piarsaigh bounce back? can Doon convert underage promise to glory on the senior stage, can Patrickswell defend their title or will Ballybrown go one further in 2017?
That’s not to mention Kilmallock or Adare who must both be considered contenders. Storied clubs like South Liberties and Ahane will also be looking to make an impact. Battle hardened sides like Knockainey and Bruff certainly won’t be giving much away while the return of Cappamore and Monaleen to the senior ranks will certainly improve the competitiveness of the competition.
Sporting Limerick spoke with The Weekly Observer’s Matt O’Callaghan to get a rundown of Group 1 and discuss and exciting weekend ahead.
You can listen to Matt’s preview in full by clicking on the link below.
Doon v Ahane
Saturday May 6 in Cappamore @7.3opm
Doon have plenty of talent in their squad to go all the way in this competition, their defeat of All-Ireland Champions Na Piarsaigh last year proves that. There is plenty of young talent who have played inter county hurling ready to lead this team. The trio of U21 All Ireland winners, Richie English, Darragh O’Donovan and Pat Ryan will have a big say in this years championship. Added to that a number of players recently out of minor such as Barry Murphy and Josh Ryan, Doon have the makings of a championship team. The senior football team in Oola may cause the hurlers to suffer.
Last years semi finalists Ahane will be looking to go one step further this year as they take on Doon in their opening game of the 2017 championship. They will be hurt to have lost their status as Limerick’s most successful club side with the ‘Well matching their total of 19 county titles last Autumn. The last time they were victorious in this competition however was way back in 2004. Have a strong young core coming up through the ranks with a lot of the scoring burden placed on the Morrissey brothers.
These sides both made the quarter final stage last year but with four Minor Premier titles in the past number of years between them these teams will be looking to go further this year. After losing the U21 premier final a couple of weeks back, Doon should have the motivation to pick up an opening round win.
South Liberties v Bruff
Saturday May 6 in Caherconlish @7pm
South Liberties will be keen to make up for a disappointing 2016 campaign that only wielded a solitary win for the city side. That win was against Bruree who would go on to be relegated from the Senior ranks. Cathal O’Neill and Cronan Garry will manage Liberties who have former Clare hurler Sean Hehir returning to the club as coach. They will look to Barry Nash to shoulder majority of the scoring burden, something he is well capable of doing.
Bruff also struggled last year, only picking up a brace of wins. Those two pointers were against Knockainey and relegated Murroe-Boher. Brian Finn is in charge of Bruff who will be hoping to make an impact at this level after struggling in the previous two years since winning the Premier Intermediate champions in 2014. Paul Brown will be vital to this side as is the return from a ruptured ACL of Sean Finn.
With the four other teams in the group all harbouring county title ambitions, this game will be crucial for these sides. Very little to separate the teams, so a draw could be on the cards in Caherconlish.
Kilmallock v Ballybrown
Sunday May 7 in Bruff @7pm
Beaten by eventual champions Patrickswell in last years semi final, the Balbec are perennial contenders in Limerick. Majority of the All-Ireland final team remain and will be aiming to go one beater than they did in 2014. However will be wary of how competitive the competition is in Limerick. Mulcahy and O’Mahony will be key as they try to embed younger players onto the team. Retain their management team from last year with James Connery still in charge. Start as 3rd favourites and are widely expected to make it out as group winners.
Last years county finalists keen to right the wrongs of last year final where they were brushed aside by neighbours Patrickswell. They will no doubt be out to prove this year that they are serious contenders once again. A heavy loss to the Well in the final will have left a scar so beware of a reaction from Ballybrown. Although they have no player on the inter county set up they have a strong team unit. Last year’s manager Evan Loftus is on board again this year and will use last year’s run as motivation for his side.
These sides met last year in the group stage and played out an entertaining draw. An intruiging clash to finish the weekend of hurling. While Ballybrown reached the decider last year, Kilmallock should have too much fire power to get them through.