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Champs again! Na Piarsaigh the kings of Munster as they lift fourth senior crown

Slaughtneil await in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Na Piarsaigh 3-15
Ballygunner 2-10

Fintan O’Toole reports from Semple Stadium

THE NA PIARSAIGH era of supremacy in Munster shows no sign of abating.

Na Piarsaigh celebrate Na Piarsaigh players can toast another provincial final victory. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

For the fourth time in seven years they lifted the AIB provincial senior hurling crown this afternoon in Thurles, unleashing a storming second-half display as they came from behind to take down Ballygunner.

Trailing 1-4 to 0-6 at the interval, Na Piarsaigh shipped three points in quick succession at the start of the second half and Ballygunner spirits were rising.

But then the Limerick champions took over with David Breen firing a bullet to the net in the 35th minute and the classy point-taking of Adrian Breen, Ronan Lynch, Peter Casey and Kevin Downes enabled them to forge ahead.

David Breen scores his sides opening goal David Breen scored 2-0 for Na Piarsaigh Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ballygunner received a lifeline when Peter Hogan rifled home a superb goal in the 58th minute to cut the deficit to a single point yet that only summoned a fierce reply from Na Piarsaigh.

The Breen brothers, Adrian and David, both raised green flags before the final whistle as the 2016 All-Ireland champions delivered glory and clinched a place in the last four stage next spring.

3,319 supporters were in attendance at the Thurles venue and eleven minutes in they witnessed Ballygunner piercing the Na Piarsaigh rearguard to find the net.

Philip Mahony tossed the ball in the half-back line out to Shane O’Sullivan who banged in a long delivery that evaded the rearguard. Conor Power was alert to seize the break and he drilled a shot low to the net.

Conor Power gets past Jermone Boylan and Niall Buckley to score his sides opening goal Conor Power helped Ballygunner lead 1-4 to 0-6 at the interval. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Approaching half-time Ballygunner were four to the good yet Na Piarsaigh hit their stride before the break with Ronan Lynch, Casey and Adrian Breen raising white flags.

Ballygunner thundered into the contest upon the resumption with Pauric Mahony – who endured a difficult day in terms of finding his customary range from play and frees – Hogan and Billy O’Keeffe clipping over splendid points.

But Na Piarsaigh wiped out that advantage when Breen netted and began to get a firm grip on proceedings. They were only two clear with ten minutes left but the accuracy of Breen, Lynch and Downes enabled them to put daylight between the sides.

It looked enough to seal the deal yet Hogan’s strike to the net ensured Na Piarsaigh’s mettle would be tested once more. They answered emphatically. Adrian Breen sweeping home a loose ball for their second goal and David Breen surging in from the left wing before blasting to the top corner.

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: Adrian Breen 1-5, David Breen 2-0, Ronan Lynch (0-2 sideline, 0-1 ’65), Peter Casey 0-3 each, Kevin Downes 0-2, Conor Boylan, Tommy Grimes 0-1 each.

Scorers for Ballygunner: Peter Hogan 1-2, Conor Power 1-0, Billy O’Keeffe 0-4 (0-1f), David O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahony (0-1f) 0-2 each.

Na Piarsaigh

1. Podge Kennedy

2. Jerome Boylan
3. Mike Casey
4. Niall Buckley

7. Alan Dempsey
6. Cathal King (captain)
5. Tommy Grimes

8. Ronan Lynch
9. William O’Donoghue

13. Conor Boylan
11. David Breen
12. David Dempsey

15. Peter Casey
14. Kevin Downes
10. Adrian Breen

Subs

22. Kevin Ryan for David Dempsey (inj) (43)
23. Gordon Brown for Conor Boylan (60)

Ballygunner

1. Stephen O’Keeffe

4. Ian Kenny
3. Barry Coughlan
2. Eddie Hayden

6. Wayne Hutchinson
5. Philip Mahony
7. Shane Walsh (joint captain)

8. Harley Barnes
9. Shane O’Sullivan

11. David O’Sullivan
12. Pauric Mahony (joint captain)
15. Billy O’Keeffe

10. Peter Hogan
14. JJ Hutchinson
13. Conor Power

Subs

19. Tim O’Sullivan for JJ Hutchinson (half-time)
21. Barry O’Sullivan for Walsh (53)
17. Conor Sheahan for David O’Sullivan (63)

Referee: Rory McGann (Clare)

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Fintan O'Toole

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