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Sunday's county final has brought great memories flooding back for Limerick legend

Patrickswell stalwart Richie Bennis played on the breakthrough team of 1965.

Patrickswell and Limerick legend Richie Bennis.
Patrickswell and Limerick legend Richie Bennis.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

HALF A CENTURY after winning their first, Patrickwell are aiming for a 19th Limerick senior hurling championship title on Sunday.

Victory over Na Piarsaigh in the Shannonside decider would bring Patrickswell level with Ahane at the head of the roll of honour and for one club stalwart, great memories have come flooding back.

Richie Bennis, 1973 All-Ireland medallist with Limerick, won ten county titles with Patrickswell during the course of a glittering playing career.

The man who guided Limerick to the 2007 All-Ireland final found his mementos during the week – eight medals and two plaques.

“We won our first couple in ’65 and ’66,” Bennis told The42. 

“Our then chairman, as a novelty, decided he’d change the practice of a medal and he gave us plaques instead.

Manager Richie Bennis 22/7/2006 Richie Bennis took over as Limerick senior manager in 2006. Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

“So I have two plaques and eight medals. I’d prefer the medals – the plaques don’t look the thing!”

In 1965, Patrickswell beat St Patrick’s to rule the roost in Limerick and Bennis recalled: “I was number 3. I remember an awful lot. It was a brilliant occasion, we had only the bare number and I had five brothers on the team.

“We went on to play Thurles Sarsfields in the Munster club at the Gaelic Grounds in the following year.

“They had all the great stars – Jimmy Doyle, Paddy Doyle, Tony Wall – seven or eight of the team that won the All-Ireland with Tipp in 1965.

“We beat them by eight or nine points and it was a big occasion on a Sunday evening.

Richie Bennis and Brian Cody 2/9/2007 Richie Bennis patrols the touchline during the 2007 All-Ireland final against Kilkenny. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“I was moved from full-back to centre forward. Eamon Carey cried off injured, Ciaran’s uncle, and we had to juggle the pack a bit.

“What I remember about the county final was we only had half a parish, we came out of seven houses.

“We played an amalgamation of six parishes from West Limerick. It was a big occasion for us.

“And what I remember was that we had a fundraiser in Cappamore, a céilí dance.

“Believe it or not, two busloads went to the céilí in Cappamore.

“We celebrated our first county title in Cappamore.”

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Ciaran Carey Ciaran Carey is the current Patrickswell manager. Source: INPHO

In Limerick, Patrickswell are renowned as something of a sleeping giant.

They haven’t won the county senior title since 2003 and Sunday’s game will mark their first final in nine years.

Bennis, though, is optimistic after watching them batter Adare in last Sunday’s semi-final.

“They are good,” he says. “It’s a pity we couldn’t stick a Ciaran Carey or a Gary Kirby in the middle of them and then we’d have a very good team.

“But Brian Murray is there in goal, and Barry Foley has a county medal from ’03.

Barry Foley and Tony Og Regan 23/3/2008 Former Limerick player Barry Foley. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“They’re inexperienced but have no fear and this team has been coming for the last two years.”

Former Limerick star Carey is manager of the team and his nephew, Cian Lynch, is one of four players who won All-Ireland U21 medals this year, captain Diarmaid Byrnes, Jack Kelliher and Kevin O’Brien the others.

Bennis believes that “confidence breeds confidence” and with that Adare victory under their belts, they can kick on against a strong Na Piarsaigh outfit.

Diarmaid Byrnes lifts the trophy Diarmaid Byrnes was Limerick's All-Ireland U21 winning captain in 2015. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“I didn’t expect it (nature of Adare win),” Bennis admits.

“But I thought it was the poorest Adare team that they fielded in my time.

“I don’t know why, they didn’t seem to have the team anyway to compete.

“That said, ours hurled well, a lovely brand of hurling.

“Confidence breeds confidence and after starting off winning our first match in the championship, we haven’t lost a game since.

Cian Lynch celebrates after the final whistle Cian Lynch is a key player for Patrickswell. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“Yes, I’d be very confident they can win it. They’re playing a better team alright, I accept that, but in a final anything can happen, it can.

“Form goes out the door a bit in the final. To win, the lads have to go out and play with the confidence they’ve shown all along. Play their own game, forget about who they’re playing.

“There is a big rivalry between the ‘Well and Na Piarsaigh, a new rivalry from underage matches over the last ten years. But it’s a good rivalry, good for hurling.”

If Patrickswell do manage to pull it off, Bennis smiles and insists that the celebrations won’t be held in Cappamore this time.

“We will not. They wouldn’t know what a céilí is anyway!”

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