What makes the Limerick SHC so entertaining?

There is an interesting dynamic in the SHC, in that there is very much a “big four,” as well as a number of smaller teams who possess threats in their own ways.

The Limerick Senior Hurling Championship is truly special. We are blessed in Limerick with the amount of success we have had in recent years at intercounty level, but the club scene that follows is just as spectacular.

Limerick have been dominant under John Kiely in recent years, winning the last four All-Ireland titles in a row, and majority of that squad are on display in the SHC.

There is an interesting dynamic in the SHC, in that there is very much a “big four,” as well as a number of smaller teams who possess threats in their own ways.

Kilmallock, Patrickswell, Na Piarsaigh and Doon are the proud members of that aforementioned “big four,” and the title has not migrated outside of their grasp in the last thirteen years. Seven times Na Piarsaigh have claimed the top prize since then, Kilmallock have twice been kingpins with two going the way of Patrickswell. Doon are yet to claim the big one but have reached a pair of finals and more than a half dozen semis over the last decade.

You have to go all the way back to 2009, when Adare took down Na Piarsaigh in the final for the last time someone other than the big four won the title.

Na Piarsaigh won their first ever title in 2011 and have dominated since, winning in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2022. They have never gone more than two years without title since winning their first, and are the favourites for this year’s championship.

30 October 2022; Na Piarsaigh captain William O’Donoughue celebrates with the cup and teammates after the Limerick County Senior Club Hurling Championship Final match between Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh at the TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Captained by Mike Casey, their side features stars such as Peter Casey, Conor Boylan, David Dempsey, Ronan Lynch and Will O’Donoghue, yet they still failed to pick up a victory in the first round this year.

That was in part due to the brilliance of Aaron Gillane, who captained Patrickswell to glory in that round one clash, alongside Cian Lynch and Diarmaid Byrnes.


The quality of player these sides are boasting is evident, and while Doon boast Darragh O’Donovan in their ranks, they also have a number of players involved in the Limerick set up, albeit not from the start in the All-Ireland wins.

Adam English has featured sparingly under Kiely, but is a star for his club as is captain, and All-Ireland, winner Pat Ryan, formerly of the county set up. Add into that Richie English who will miss the championship through injury.

A look at Kilmallock provides a similar story, while they may not host many current Limerick starters, they possess talent in the likes of Michael Houlihan, Oisin O’Reilly, Graeme Mulcahy, Barry Hennessy and Paddy O’Loughlin, while Shane O’Brien is almost certain to break into the Limerick side in years to come.

Na Piarsaigh’s David Dempsey attempts to win the ball ahead of Kilmallock duo Paddy O’Loughlin (L) and Philip O’Loughlin (R) during the 2019 Limerick SHC semi-final clash between Na Piarsaigh and Kilmallock. Mandatory Credit: Sport Action Photography

Former Limerick man Shane Dowling plays in goal for Na Piarsaigh, as does Cork legend Anthony Nash for South Liberties.

His link up with Barry Nash for South Liberties is an example of one of the smaller teams that still pack a punch however it hasn’t;t gone to plan for last year’s semi-finalists who have failed to pick up a win, further highlighting the depth of quality.

Ahane, who have 19 title wins but have not won since 2004, boast brothers Dan and Tom Morrissey in their ranks, while Ballybrown have Colin Coughlan and Aidan O’Connor.

Kildimo Pallaskenry are captained by one of the county’s best in Kyle Hayes, while Ronan Connolly is joined by Declan Hannon in the Adare ranks following his return to fitness.

Cian Lynch and Darragh O’Donovan tangle in the 2019 Limerick SHC semi-final between Doon and Patrickswell in the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Mandatory Credit: Sport Action Photography.

The pool of talent that has benefitted Kiely over the years clearly highlights the club scene, with the so called smaller clubs always in with a chance such is the star power.

The “big four” will still be expected to win, but there is a chance for an upset in any Limerick SHC game, perhaps more than any other county championship in the country.

One very interesting dynamic we see in the SHC is that friends turn to foes. Teammates at intercounty level are suddenly giving everything to beat each other, and this adds to the entertainment as a Limerick hurling fan.

We all enjoy watching the players play together for their county, but the club games offer a chance for us to see them compete against each other, as well as play with people they have grown up with, and the novelty of that alone is rather remarkable.

Ultimately, it is the players who make the SHC so special, every single one of them. It ranges from intercounty stars to former intercounty legends, mixed with great club players who are more than capable.

The Limerick Senior Hurling Championship is special, and we as fans are very lucky.

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