After Newcastle West booked their place in the Limerick SFC final after defeating Adare, their county final opponent will be confirmed as St Kieran’s face Oola in the LIT Gaelic Grounds at 7.30pm.
This clash is a novel semi final pairing with Oola not having contested a final since 1980, while the men from the west haven’t reached the decider in fourteen years. Indeed, their last county titles came in 1979 and 1990 respectively.
Oola have made it this far courtesy of five wins from five as they topped group one of the championship. Their 100% record saw them advance straight to the semi finals. Their victories thus far have come against Galbally, Drom-Broadford, Na Piarsaigh, Newcastle West and this weekend’s opponents St Kieran’s.
Their 3-8 to 0-15 win over Kieran’s in Round 4 guaranteed their progression to the knockout stages before the final round victory against Newcastle West sealed their place in the last four. That round five win will give them huge confidence heading to the Ennis Road venue as they have beaten both the other remaining teams already in this year’s championship.
St Kieran’s finished third in the group with three wins and two losses, with the reversals coming against Oola and Newcastle West. As such they were rewarded with a quarter-final clash with Fr Caseys who they overcame 1-11 to 0-7 in very impressive fashion three weeks ago.
Incredibly, these sides have met in the group stages each year since Oola were promoted to the top division in 2015. The 2016 Championship saw the sides play out a 1-8 to 0-11 draw in Oola’s first season in the top tier of Limerick football. Kieran’s would win the following two contests in 2017 and 2018 before Oola gained the upper hand earlier this summer.
Oola will be favoured to advance with their strong running game causing huge problems for their opponents this term. In their five games to date they have scored an incredible 14 goals, five more than any other team managed in their opening five group games, including their opponents in the semi final.
At the other end they have shown a proficiency in defending and have just conceded two goals in the competition with Ballysteen the only side to concede fewer in the group stage. St Kieran’s did keep a clean sheet in the quarter final and will prove a difficult matchup for Oola with their slow yet precise build up play.
In Johnny McCarthy, Darragh Treacey and Sean McSweeney, Kieran’s have a very strong spine, with talented sharpshooters and teak tough defenders sprinkled around them. Doon’s falling at the semi final stage in the hurling may prove a blessing for the footballers with the SFC their sole opportunity at a medal this term.
As such Oola will enter the game as favourites and deservedly so, but Kieran’s have a more established pedigree in the knockout stages and that may see them cause an upset.