The Limerick Senior Hurling Championships came to a close over the weekend with six teams still in the hunt for the Daly Cup.
Following Limerick’s third successive All-Ireland title, the county senior hurling championship has delivered in style with some brilliant games throughout five captivating rounds.
Na Piarsaigh proved why they are the bookies favourites, sealing their place in the semi-finals with a round to spare as they remained undefeated throughout. Kilmallock just pipped Doon for the other last four berth with Patrickswell joining the East side in the knockout stages.
Kildimo Pallaskenry were the story of group two, sealing yet another promotion place with South Liberties grabbing the other knockout spot.
Many of John Kiely’s men starred for their clubs but there were also standout displays from others with the quality of hurling of the highest order.
With three weeks to the quarter finals, we select our team of the championship thus far and chose some who were unlucky to miss out.
Unlucky To Miss Out
Daithi Dempsey, Kevin Downes & Adrian Breen (all Na Piarsaigh): Such is Na Piarsaigh’s strength in depth, any player, particularly, in their forward unit has the abilty to overshadow the others. Daithi Dempsey has been the best player in the championship over the past five or six years, Kevin Downes has taken on the free taking duties with ease while Adrian Breen remains one of the premier snipers in the competition. Any of the three could have made the team but it probably works against them that they are all on the same team.
Still key reasons why they were the most impressive team in the competition.
Conor Hanley Clarke, Dan Joy & Aaron Costello (all Kilmallock): CHC has been one of the standout players as he has transitioned seamlessly into the starting unit, taking over the frees in the absence of Micheal Houlihan and Shane O’Brien. Costello is a swiss army knife for the Balbec, with his ability to play in any position from 2-9 while Dan Joy has been a lockdown corner back for the champions.
Jack Kelleher & Diarmuid Byrnes (Patrickswell): The HOTY elect probably misses out as so much is expected of him. As always, anchored the defence and was key in helping the Well past Adare. Kelleher has been a key figure in the middle of the park for Patrickswell over the years and was no different in the group stages.
Shaun Barry (Kildimo Pallaskenry): Didn’t start in KP’s only loss this season which is no surprise considering Barry’s accuracy in front of goal. Just the 14-points in the promotion clincher with few better over placed balls than the KP sharpshooter.
Thomas Ryan (South Liberties): The former intercounty man brought a real scoring element to South Liberties, including a pair of goals in their quarter-final clincher.
Callum Sheahan (Garryspillane): Always a scoring threat for Garryspillane with a keen eye for green flags.
Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown): Scorer in chief for Ballybrown who looked so impressive in the early stages of the championship.
Willie Griffin (Adare): Probably the most unlucky to miss out as he almost single handily pulled Adare into the knockout stages. Misses out as Adare failed to win, through no fault of his own.
John Chawke (Kildimo Pallaskenry)
Was instrumental at both ends for the City side in just their second season in the top tier. Scored the crucial goal against Ballybrown that turned their campaign as they sealed promotion to the top tier of Limerick hurling. In his 26th season for the club, is as crucial as ever.
2. Corner Back
Billy Molyneaux (Mungret St Pauls)
In his maiden season with the senior side, Molyneaux was outstanding for the City outfit in their return to the Senior ranks. Operated between corner and wing back where he was exceptional in both.
3. Full Back
Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
On his day, the best full back in Ireland. Struggled at times against Kilmallock but aside from that, Casey was dominant in his return to club hurling.
4. Corner Back
Mark Carmody (Patrickswell)
Didn’t feature in the full back line, but with most teams operating with a two man full forward line, Carmody is shoehorned in here. A talented defender, Carmody showed his eye for a score this year and was Patrickswell’s best performer throughout the championship.
5. Half Back
Cathal Downes (Kildimo Pallaskenry)
Really coming into his own as one of the stars on the ever improving Kildimo Pallaskenry team. Always chips in with a couple of scores including three in the promotion sealing win over Garryspillane.
6. Centre Back
Richie English (Doon)
While Limerick fans will be more used to seeing English at corner back, he anchors the defence for his club and was stellar this season, even adding a couple of points. His potential battle with Kyle Hayes in the quarter-final is mouthwatering.
7. Half Back
Josh Ryan (Doon)
Successfully transitioned to wing back where he is a constant scoring threat. Alongside English and Pat Cummins he makes up a very formidable half back line for Doon.
William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh)
The best midfielder in the country, sometimes it’s like men against boys when O’Donoghue is involved. So central to everything good about Na Piarsaigh.
Barry Nash (South Liberties)
Another who is shoehorned into the team having played a lot of his hurling closer to goal, Nash cannot miss out for his part in helping South Liberties into another quarter-final.
10. Half Forward
Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock)
Has become almost unmarkable, continuing the form that made him the standout player in last year’s championship. So dangerous wherever he picks up the sliotar. One of the players of the championship so far.
11. Centre Forward
Kyle Hayes (Kildimo Pallaskenry)
The main man as Kildimo Pallaskenry earned a third promotion in five years. His performance against Blackrock where he hit 0-10 from play was one of the best displays you are ever likely to see. Started the campaign with 1-3 from play against Mungret and hasn’t relented since. Like the man before, (and after) almost unstoppable.
12. Half Forward
Tom Morrissey (Ahane)
Another who has been sensational this year, almost single handily keeping Ahane in the top tier. Hit 1-9 against Adare in round one and added to that with the same score as they drew with Na Piarsaigh to preserve their group one status. His season is ended but what a five game run it was for Morrissey.
13. Corner Forward
Shane O’Brien (Kilmallock)
Paying little heed to the fact that it was his first year in the adult grade, Shane O’Brien was superb for Kilmallock throughout the group stages. Tormented Na Piarsaigh in only his second game, after bagging a goal to go with a couple of points on his debut. Had to come off early against Doon through injury and his presence will be vital if Kilmallock are to retain their title, despite his tender age.
14. Full Forward
Pat Ryan (Doon)
Brilliant in the full forward line for Doon with his pace and directness causing havoc. Playing like a player with a point to prove but as always is showing his worth to his club as they just missed out on the semi-finals.
15. Corner Forward
Paul O’Brien (Mungret St Pauls)
Edges Willie Griffin and Adrian Breen as he was central to Mungret not only retaining their senior status but also reaching a county cup final in their first year back at the top table. In the absence of Liam Lynch, he stepped up to the plate, bagging 1-10 in the crucial win over Kildimo Pallaskenry, before hitting ten points in the second half alone in the victory over South Liberties that ensured their senior status for 2023.
Limerick SHC Team of the Group Stages
- John Chawke (Kildimo Pallaskenry)
- Billy Molyneaux (Mungret St Pauls)
- Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
- Mark Carmody (Patrickswell)
- Cathal Downes (Kildimo Pallaskenry)
- Richie English (Doon)
- Josh Ryan (Doon)
- William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh)
- Barry Nash (South Liberties)
- Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock)
- Kyle Hayes (Kildimo Pallaskeny)
- Tom Morrissey (Ahane)
- Shane O’Brien (Kilmallock)
- Pat Ryan (Doon)
- Paul O’Brien (Mungret St Pauls)