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6 players to watch in Sunday's Munster club hurling final between Na Piarsaigh and Ballygunner

These key men will have a big say in the provincial final at Semple Stadium.

1. Brian O’Sullivan (Ballygunner)

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Ballygunner found themselves in a pickle during the first half of the Munster semi-final victory over Glen Rovers when one of their key players, defender Philip Mahony, was sent off.

At half-time, the Gunners were five points down but O’Sullivan was very much to the fore in the second half as they outscored the Glen by 0-16 to 1-1.

O’Sullivan finished with nine crucial points, including eight from placed balls, as the Waterford champions booked their place in the provincial decider.

2. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh)

Source: Conor Wyse/INPHO

Casey was one of the shooting stars during Limerick’s march to All-Ireland U21 honours and he’s carried that impressive form into the club campaign.

He scored 1-1 in last Sunday’s Munster semi-final victory over Thurles Sarsfields and is a player that Ballygunner must keep a tight rein on.

Casey came off the bench to score three points in the All-Ireland U21 final victory over Wexford and when Na Piarsaigh won a fourth successive county U21 crown earlier this year, he racked up 0-9 in the final.

3. Stephen O’Keeffe (Ballygunner)

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The current Waterford netminder is one of the very best in the business – and tipped to become a future Allstar.

O’Keeffe first made his mark as a Harty Cup winner with De La Salle, managed by current Waterford boss Derek McGrath.

Off the pitch, Waterford IT graduate O’Keeffe is working in Dublin with Bank of Ireland’s corporate banking team.

As an aspiring young goalkeeper, his hero was the former Wexford custodian Damien Fitzhenry, as Stephen’s late grandmother hailed from Kiltealy in the Model county.

4. Cathal King (Na Piarsaigh)

Source: Conor Wyse/INPHO

King is one of the unsung heroes of the Na Piarsaigh team.

Captaining the team from the half-back line, King is a no-frills type of player who goes about his business with minimum fuss.

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A member of the Limerick senior hurling panel since breaking into the squad in 2013, King is yet to make a serious impact with the Shannonsiders but his club form continues to be consistently good.

King is hoping to emulate Kieran Bermingham and James O’Brien by lifting the Munster trophy for Na Piarsaigh.

5. Shane O’Sullivan (Ballygunner)

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Long-serving O’Sullivan is the uncle of Ballygunner brothers Pauric and Philip Mahony.

He was a key member of the Waterford senior hurling panel from 2004 until 2014, when Déise boss Derek McGrath revamped his squad, placing an emphasis on youth.

A former club and county captain, O’Sullivan stepped up to the mark in a backs-to-the-wall victory over Glen Rovers, contributing two points from play.

A qualified sport psychologist, 30-year-old O’Sullivan remains a key cog in the Ballygunner wheel, now operating in the half-forward line.

6. Kieran Breen (Na Piarsaigh)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Kieran is one of three Breen brothers in the Na Piarsaigh set-up, along with David and Adrian.

A surgeon by profession, Breen is a rock at the heart of the Na Piarsaigh defence, manning the full-back position.

Breen was at his defiant best last Sunday as Thurles Sarsfields went in search of an elusive goal at the Gaelic Grounds.

He’s flanked by Mike Casey and Kieran Kennedy in a formidable full-back line that Ballygunner will have trouble breaching.

You can follow the action from Thurles LIVE with our reporter Jackie Cahill on Sunday.

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