If there was a battle of the titans in club hurling, this is your game.
Limerick champions Na Piarsaigh come up against Waterford’s Ballygunner in the Munster club SHC Semi Final at the TUS Gaelic Grounds at 4pm this Sunday, with the game also being shown live on TG4.
These two sides met at the same stage in the same venue in 2022, Ballygunner winning that by 2-20 to 2-15.
Worth noting that the Limerick champions were 2-11 to 1-9 up at half time in last year’s meeting but the Waterford side’s experience and knowhow got them over the line.
Na Piarsaigh won all but one of their games in this season’s Limerick SHC, sealing yet another title by beating Patrickswell in the final, 1-20 to 0-19.
A goal by Peter Casey was vital in determining proceedings in a tight affair.
It was crucial that Nap had midfielder Will O’Donoghue back for that game, arguably deciding the county final.
The Limerick hurling version of ‘Mr Reliable’ was injured for their previous games before then, including their semi final against Doon, a game that went to penalties.
If the Limerick victors are to stamp their authority on Sunday’s game, O’Donoghue has to be in top form in his usual role in stopping attacks.
Ronan Lynch is Nap’s top scorer, hitting 1-56 despite usually plying his trade in the half back line.
Adrian Breen and Peter Casey will be the sharpshooters on show, the two forwards have scored 4-13 and 2-18 from play respectively.
Goalkeeper Shane Dowling and full back Mike Casey add experience to a defence that has averaged conceding 1-16.
Nap have scored 1-22 per game making their win average six points.
Their bout with Ballygunner will obviously be tighter but the fact they have achieved those stats against sides such as Kilmallock, Patrickswell and Doon will give them huge confidence.
Na Piarsaigh last 5 games:
- 4-23 : 0-16 v Doon
- 1-21 : 1-13 v Ahane
- 0-20 : 1-9 v Kilmallock
- Na Piarsaigh 2-23 : 0-29 v Doon (Won 4-3 on penalties)
- Na Piarsaigh 1-20 : 0-19 v Patrickswell
The test being put forward is going to be a relentless one.
Ballygunner, a team chasing the Munster club three in a row, are All Ireland favourites after Ballyhale Shamrocks’ loss in Kilkenny to O’Loughlin Gaels.
No team has ever managed the three in a row so they’re not only going for victory, Ballygunner are going for history.
Pauric Mahony, retired from the Waterford inter county side, scored 0-13 in their win over Nap last year with 0-7 of that coming from play.
The scary thing is, he is not the only serious threat.
Dessie Hutchinson has scored 1-22 in the club championship this year and has been regarded as one of the top hurling forwards in the country.
Patrick Fitzgerald, who is still a teenager, has scored 2-20 in this year’s championship and adds an extra dynamic to the Ballygunner’s forward line.
Their defence has experience written all over.
Barry Coughlan, Stephen O’Keeffe and Philip Mahony are just a select few that have donned the Waterford jersey and have proven to be trustworthy players.
Ballygunner showed their credentials in the Munster SHC already, hammering Cork champions Sarsfields 2-20 to 0-9.
They have scored an average of 1-25 while conceding 0-15, a 13-point winning margin.
While the Waterford championship or Sarsfields weren’t the best of quality, they still put whoever they came across away with ease.
Ballygunner’s last 5 games
- 2-28 : 0-10 v Passage
- 0-23 : 1-11 v Dungarvan
- 1-23 : 1-15 v Fourmilewater
- 2-26 : 0-21 v De La Salle
- 2-20 : 0-9 v Sarsfields
The winner of this game will face either Kiladangan from Tipperary or Clonlara from Clare in the Munster Final, with that semi-final live on TG4 from 2pm.