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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
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5 talking points after Na Piarsaigh reign in Munster and Ballygunner suffer again

Eight points separated the sides in Thurles.

Na Piarsaigh's Kevin Downes and Shane Dowling get to celebrate another Munster title.
Na Piarsaigh's Kevin Downes and Shane Dowling get to celebrate another Munster title.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. The Na Piarsaigh winning run continues

The statistics were doing the rounds this week but it’s no harm repeating them to stress just how impressive Na Piarsaigh’s record in Munster is after today’s final. That’s 11 senior hurling games the club have played in the province now with ten victories achieved and one draw (the 2011 Munster decider).

They have four Munster senior crowns to their credit in the space of seven seasons. It’s only six years since they climbed the podium in Limerick for the first time and eight years since they were floored by 17 points in a county senior final. A remarkable run by a remarkable club.

2. That second-half storm

When Ballygunner reeled off three classy points early in the second half, they looked to be in an excellent position. Yet from the 35th minute until the final whistle, the Waterford champions found themselves outscored by 3-9 to 1-3.

Admittedly the chasm between the sides on the scoreboard at the finish conceals the true nature of this fierce and physical contest. Ballygunner were only a point adrift when Peter Hogan rifled home a superb 58th minute goal. But they were ultimately floored by a Na Piarsaigh side that grew in strength as the game unfolded and were not hampered by an inauspicious opening.

Conor Power celebrates scoring his sides opening goal Conor Power celebrates scoring Ballygunner's opening goal Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. More final dejection for Ballygunner

If Na Piarsaigh have no trouble in winning games in Munster, Ballygunner found out again how problematic finals can be. The Waterford club were on top in 2001 but have not been able to add to that maiden crown since. This was their fourth final reversal since then.

It heaps on the agony for some of their long-serving stalwarts and this defeat was difficult to absorb given how they got to the pitch of the game early, wiring into Na Piarsaigh to provide them with a stern examination.

Pauric Mahony, for so long this year their attacking lynchpin, endured one of those days when his shooting radar was off but the young pair of Billy O’Keeffe and Peter Hogan stepped up to provide scoring inspiration. Ultimately they fell short and a frenzied schedule of nine games in ten weeks concluded on a low note.

A view of the Munster Senior Hurling Club Championship Trophy The prize on offer yesterday in Thurles. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. The younger Breen again shines for Na Piarsaigh

His older brother David ensured Na Piarsaigh finished with a flourish with a cracking late goal but Adrian Breen had done plenty before then to keep his team in the hunt. He finished with 1-5 and right from the start he was on song as he whipped over the opening point of the game.

It continues a trend of Breen popping up with big scores in big games for his club. He netted the goal that sealed their 2011 Munster final replay success, raised a green flag in the 2013 Munster decider, fired 1-4 in last year’s All-Ireland final and 0-6 when the Limerick title was secured this season.

5. Na Piarsaigh sights turn to the All-Ireland goal

When the Munster trophy is tucked away and the associated celebrations die down, manager Shane O’Neill and his Na Piarsaigh players will allow their minds to wander to the challenges looming next spring. It’s only 20 months since they were champions in Croke Park. They’d love to add to that All-Ireland triumph.

Slaughtneil will be their semi-final opponents. The memories of losing in 2012 to Loughgiel Shamrocks will mean Na Piarsaigh will be on their guard against complacency seeping into their camp due to the presence of an Ulster side in the opponents corner. But for this gifted group, claiming a second All-Ireland title will be the goal they seek to realise and the return of Shane Dowling from injury will only strengthen their hand.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Cork’s Kanturk keep brilliant 2017 winning run going with Munster hurling final success

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

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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