Limerick SHC Preview: Group 2
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 of Group 2 in full by clicking on the link below.
Monaleen v Knockainey
Friday May 5 in Caherconlish @ 7pm
Monaleen return to the senior ranks with a trip to Caherconlish to face Knockainey on Friday evening. With the footballers sitting pretty with two wins from two in the championship, the Monaleen hurlers will be looking to build on that momentum. Monaleen will look to Andrew La Touche Cosgrave to do the brunt of their scoring, proving to be deadly in front of goal in Intermediate premier last year as they beat Cappamore in the final. Jimmy Browne is in charge of the city side.
Knockainey will be disappointed with their return to the top tier of Limerick hurling last year. After being promoted from Premier Intermediate as losing finalists in 2015, they could only muster a single win and draw from the group stage last year, albeit the win was against Ahane who would go on to reach the semi-finals of the competition. Tom Moloney will head an in house management this year for the All Blacks who will be keen to make more of an impression this year.
With both of these sides promoted from Premier Intermediate over the past two years, there should be very little between both sides.
Na Piarsaigh v Cappamore
Saturday May 6 in Kilmallock @ 7.30pm
Na Piarsaigh are favourites to win back the trophy they lost last year. Arguably favourites for the All-Ireland with vast amount of county pedigree they can call on, with inter-county experience on every line of the pitch. Will be burdened by the fact they are a dual club but don’t expect it to deter them. They recently won their 6th county U21 in a row so expect some new faces to challenge for places in an already young team. Kevin Downes, Munster club player of the year in 2015 should return to full fitness at the back end of the championship to give this side a boost. Clash with Patricskwell will most likely decide the destiny of this group.
Cappamore return to the Senior Ranks after reaching the final of the Intermediate Premier Championship last year. Whilst they were beaten by Monaleen in the final, they will be confident of holding their own in a competitive group. They were promoted from Premier Intermediate at the first attempt, having won the Intermediate Championship in 2015. Have reached the Senior competition despite the fact that they were playing Junior hurling only 6 years ago, outlining the quality of this golden era in Cappamore.
Cappamore will be keen to make in impact and prove their transition from Junior in 2010 to Senior in 2017 is no fluke. However, 2016 All Ireland Champions Na Piarsaigh will expect to put up a high score and send out a message to their rivals.
Patrickswell v Adare
Sunday May 7 in Bruff @ 4.45pm
After claiming their 19th crown at the expense of neighbours Ballybrown last year, Patrickswell will be hoping for more of the same this season. This bridged a gap of 13 years since the ‘Well won their last county championship. Patrickswell demonstrated their quality throughout their campaign last year, kicking on after a disappointing opening round loss to Adare, to win their remaining games. Gary Kirby will take care of the side once more, looking to build on from last year as they were unlucky to lose out to Glen Rovers in the Munster Championship.
Adare began last year’s championship in fine form defeating the Well. They would continue this form throughout the group stage, going undefeated reaching a semi final after topping their group. However, they would be beaten by Ballybrown in the penultimate stage, in a game Adare were expected to come through. This will have hurt the team and management who will be eager to go one step further. With the footballers returning to the senior ranks and with a huge turnover of players on both panels, there should be little disruption to the side in their focus.
Adare got the upper hand when these teams met in the first round last year beating the Well 1-20 to 2-15. However, if the Well start the championship similar to how they finished last year, they should have enough to beat Adare, especially knowing that Na Piarsaigh await in round 2.