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Waiting on injured duo after semi-final, watching Ballygunner-Ballyea classic and familiar Munster final foes

Another Munster final awaits Limerick champions Na Piarsaigh.

AN 18-POINT win in a Munster hurling semi-final and the prospect of a provincial decider in a fortnight would generally indicate an extremely positive afternoon’s work.

Dr. Kieran Breen with the injured Shane Dowling Shane Dowling is helped off the pitch by team doctor Kieran Breen. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Yet the ease at which Na Piarsaigh triumphed yesterday was clouded by the casualties they suffered during the encounter at the Gaelic Grounds.

By half-time Na Piarsaigh were 14 points clear of Clonoulty-Rossmore and had essentially booked their place in the Munster final but saw star attacker Shane Dowling withdrawn an arm injury prior to the interval.

By the three-quarter mark Ronan Lynch had joined Dowling in the list of casualties and deep in injury-time defender Kieran Kennedy limped off to add to the list of injuries.

The prognosis on Lynch is positive ahead of the Munster decider against Ballygunner on 18 November after he suffered a facial injury.

In the cases of Dowling (arm) and Kennedy (ankle), Na Piarsaigh are waiting to learn of the extent of their injuries. The pair are long standing pillars of their side, their involvement stretching back to the club’s seismic breakthrough in Munster in 2011.

“I’m waiting for further updates today on Shane with his arm injury and Kieran Kennedy with his ankle injury,” stated Na Piarsaigh manager Paul Beary.

Paul Beary Na Piarsaigh manager Paul Beary. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Ronan Lynch is fine, just a facial injury, he got stitched up last night, so he’s okay. We’re hopeful that Shane would be okay for the final, all going well. We’re hopeful it’s not as serious as first thought.

“In terms of the evaluation and assessment of it, we should have a more clearer picture in the next 24 hours.”

Eight days after scaling the peak of Limerick hurling, Na Piarsaigh hit their stride early to breeze past the Tipperary champions in their Munster opener.

“We were well prepped, we wanted to get off to a good start,” outlined Beary.

“It was worrying in so far as it was the first time we had the problem of playing a Munster club match within a week of the county final. It’s a good complaint but nevertheless one we hadn’t experienced it before.”

Once they had taken care of business in their own game, which commenced at 1pm, Beary was engrossed in the clash between Ballyea and Ballygunner, which had a 1.30pm throw-in and unfolded into a classic as the afternoon progressed.  

Pauric Mahony watches on as his shot goes over the bar Pauric Mahony in action for Ballygunner against Ballyea yesterday. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“I kind of had a vested interest myself because my wife is from Ballyea so I would have seen a lot of Ballyea in the last few years, especially with the Munster club win and All-Ireland run a couple of years back,” reflected Beary.

“I actually got to see it on a phone in the dressing-room shortly afterwards. It was a titanic battle really between the two of them. It looked like a great match, great intensity and everything like that, and really just represented everything that’s good about club hurling.”

It sets up a final for Na Piarsaigh that breeds familiarity. They’ll take on Ballygunner in a rematch of last year’s decider and the third final instalment between this pair in four seasons. It’s the first time that a Munster club hurling final is a repeat of the corresponding fixture 12 months previously.

Conor Power gets past Jermone Boylan and Niall Buckley to score his sides opening goal An eight-point victory for Na Piarsaigh against Ballygunner last November. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The one word I’d associate with Ballygunner is resilience, they’ve fantastic resilience, they always keep coming back in matches,” said Beary.

“To do what they’ve done in Waterford especially in terms of winning is it four, five years in a row. Fantastic respect for them and we know what we’re up against in the final in terms of what they’re bringing.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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