Na Piarsaigh far too strong for Blackrock
AIB Munster Club SHC semi-final
NA PIARSAIGH 2-26 BLACKROCK 0-10
By John Fallon at the Gaelic Grounds
Na Piarsaigh maintained their superb record in the Munster senior club hurling championship when they booked their place in the final with an easy win over Blackrock.
Blackrock, runners-up in the Cork championship to Imokilly but sent through to represent the county in place of the divisional champions, were chasing the game from early on.
Na Piarsaigh, who are now unbeaten in all ten games they have played in the Munster club championship, controlled matters from the outset and were well on their way to victory when they led by 2-11 to 0-6 at the break, having played against the wind.
They did not miss the injured Shane Dowling with his inter-county colleague Ronan Lynch stepping forward to take over the free-taking duties.
Lynch landed 0-15, ten of them frees, two from 65’s and one from a sideline, in a quality performance that ensured Na Piarsaigh were always on course to reach their fourth Munster final.
The 2016 All-Ireland champions also struck for two good goals in rapid succession in the opening half and Blackrock, the most prolific winners of the Cork and Munster titles, never looked like recovering.
Na Piarsaigh led by 0-8 to 0-3 when the impressive Peter Casey finished a move started by Adrian Breen with a cracking shot to the net after 16 minutes.
John O’Sullivan responded with a point for Blackrock but Na Piarsaigh struck for another goal inside a minute when David Breen supplied the finish.
Lynch scored five points in the opening half and added four more in the third quarter, with a point from Niall Buckley also helping them lead by 2-16 to 0-7 going into the final quarter.
Blackrock never gave up but couldn’t get in for a goal or two which might ignite a serious comeback.
Instead, Na Piarsaigh kept extending their lead and by the finish nine players had found the target as they kept picking off points from all angles.
A good save from Gavin Connolly denied Casey a second goal, but Lynch kept adding points right to the end as they set up a Munster final date against Ballygunner of Waterford.
They will go into that final with a record of nine wins and a draw in Munster but will face a tougher test that Blackrock were able to offer in this semi-final encounter in Limerick.
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: Ronan Lynch 0-15 (10f, 2 ’65, 1 sideline), Peter Casey 1-3, Adrian Breen 0-3, David Breen 1-0, Will O’Donoghue 0-1, Niall Buckley 0-1, Conor Boylan 0-1, Kevin Downes 0-1, Kevin Ryan 0-1.
Scorers for Blackrock: Michael O’Halloran 0-4 (4f), Ger O’Regan 0-1, David Cashman 0-1, Alan O’Callaghan 0-1, John O’Sullivan 0-1, David O’Farrell 0-1, Liam O’Sullivan 0-1.
NA PIARSAIGH: Podge Kennedy; Jerome Boylan, Mike Casey, Niall Buckley; Alan Dempsey, Cathall King, Thomas Grimes; Ronan Lynch, Will O’Donoghue; Conor Boylan, David Breen, David Dempsey; Adrian Breen, Kevin Downes, Peter Casey. Subs: Gordon Brown for Dempsey (31), Kevin Ryan for Casey (33-38, 44), Mike Foley for Grimes (48), James O’Brien for Buckley (55), Kieran Kennedy for Boylan (56)
BLACKROCK: Gavin Connolly; John Cashman, Dylan Stokes, Gary Norberg; Andrew Murphy, Niall Cashman, Daniel Meaney; Stephen Murphy, David O’Farrell; John O’Sullivan, Alan O’Callaghan, Ger O’Regan; Michael O’Halloran, Tadhg Deasy, David Cashman. Subs: Alex Hogan for D Cashman (31), Liam O’Sullivan for J O’Sullivan (45), Colin O’Leary for Deasy (49), Eoin O’Farrell for O’Callaghan (56), Brian Ahern for Norberg (56).
Ref: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).