AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Hurling Championship Final – Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) 2-25 Cushendall (Antrim) 2-14

Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) defeated Cushendall (Antrim) by 2-25 to 2-14 in the AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Hurling Championship Final on Thursday March 17th at Croke Park.

Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh collect first All-Ireland hurling title

By Michael Moynihan for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) 2-25 Cushendall (Antrim) 2-14

Na Piarsaigh collected a first All-Ireland club hurling title today in Croke Park, the Limerick men dominating Antrim champions Cushendall from start to finish and running out comfortable winners.

The Limerick men defended the Hill 16 end in the first half, and began with a bang – Adrian Breen, on for late withdrawal Kevin Ryan, first-timed a goal in the opening minute. Cushendall responded with two points of their own, from Alec Delargy and Neil McManus (free), within the next two minutes, however.

Adrian Breen scores Na Piarsaigh’s first goal after 30 seconds

Shane Dowling (0-3, two frees) and Breen restored Na Piarsaigh’s lead, making it 1-4 to 0-2 on ten minutes, and the Limerick side were in control, the impressive David Breen coming close to a second goal. Shane McNaughton hit back for the Northerners, but then Na Piarsaigh tattooed four points in a row to put clear daylight between the sides, 1-8 to 0-3.

On 22 minutes Sean McAfee’s first-time pull flew the wrong side of the post when a goal would have revived Cushendall; Na Piarsaigh swept downfield for yet another pointed free by Dowling. Four minutes later Kevin Downes’ calm finish made it 2-10 to 0-3. Cushendall hit three points in a row after that, but they were keeping the score respectable; Downes and Peter Casey added two more for Na Piarsaigh to make it 2-12 to 0-6 at the half.

The sides swapped points early in the second half, and Cushendall were better than they had been, but they couldn’t make serious inroads into Na Piarsaigh’s lead. On 35 minutes the gap was fifteen points, 2-17 to 0-8, and the only question to be answered was the eventual margin of victory.

Neil McManus finished a Shane McNaughton free to the net on 40 minutes to spark a revival of sorts, adding a free soon afterwards, but Alan Dempsey and Adrian Breen points cancelled out those scores. It was a long final quarter for the Antrim men with Na Piarsaigh chipping in points at will – the final margin of eleven points didn’t flatter them, though Karl McKeegan got a late goal for Cushendall to take the bare look off the scoreboard for Cushendall.

Na Piarsaign Captain Cathal King accepts the cup

NA PIARSAIGH: P. Kennedy, M. Casey, K. Breen, K. Kennedy, M. Foley, R. Lynch, C. King ( c), A. Dempsey, W. O’Donoghue, S. Dowling, K. Breen, A. Breen, K. Downes, D. Dempsey, P. Casey
Subs: K. Ryan for D. Breen (54); P. Gleeson for O’Donoghue (56)

CUSHENDALL: E. Gillan, R. McCambridge, M. Burke, A. Graffin ( c), D. Kearney, E. Campbell, S. Delargy, S. McNaughton, A. Delargy, C. Carson, N. McManus, S. McAfee, P. McGill, D. McNaughton, C. McNaughton.
Subs: C. Boylan for McManus (blood, 21-3); P. Burke for S. Delargy (34); K. McKeegan for D. McNaughton (37); A. McNaughton for C. McNaughton (43); E. McKillop for Graffin (54); E. Laverty for McGill (58)

Referee: D. Kirwan (Cork)