/ GAA

Na Piarsaigh focused ahead of novel final pairing

Updated: Thursday, 17 Mar 2016 13:59 | Comments

Na Piarsaigh defeated Oulart the Balagh in extra-time to reach the All-Ireland final
Na Piarsaigh defeated Oulart the Balagh in extra-time to reach the All-Ireland final

Na Piarsaigh manager Shane O'Neill believes his side are focused on the job at hand ahead of their St Patrick's Day showdown with Ruairí Óg Cushendall.

O'Neill believes his charges have shown their mature side throughout their march to the pinnacle of the club game, tracing it back to their one-point win over Kilmallock in the Limerick semi-final.

Na Piarsaigh followed that win up with another one point win over Patrickswell to add to county titles won in 2011 and 2013.

On both those occasions, Na Piarsaigh went on to claim Munster honours, something they duly did again this year, beating Sixmilebridge by two points before turning on the style to defeat Thurles and Ballygunner.

However, in previous years the Limerick men have failed to progress past the All-Ireland semi-final stage.

With ten minutes to go in this year's edition, they led Oulart the Balagh by five points but the Wexford and Leinster champions came back to ensure the tie went to extra-time.

O'Neill said: "If it went on a bit longer we would have been beaten because they had all the momentum."

Luckily for Na Piarsaigh they were able to get their second wind and went on to secure an historic five-point win.

"We showed great character to really outplay them, a bit like what Loughgiel did to us in 2011," O'Neill added.

Coincidentally, Cushendall defeated traditional Antrim kingpins Loughgiel on their way to claiming county and provincial honours.

Like Na Piarsaigh, they had never reached an All-Ireland final, but overcame Galway champions Sarsfields to set up the novel showdown.

Former Limerick hurler O'Neill feels the novelty factor may impact on the decider.

He said: "I think with two brand new teams in a final, without any experience of playing in Croke Park together as a team, it really brings it down to a 50/50 encounter."

No Limerick side has won an All-Ireland senior club hurling title, and no Munster side has won since Newtownshandrum in 2004, but Na Piarsaigh feel they are ready to continue bucking trends. 

Ahead of the decider, perhaps the final word should go to full-back Kieron Breen, a veteran of the semi-final defeats to Loughgiel and Portumna.

"We've come close on two previous occasions so to reach the final is a huge deal with the club. It's the pinnacle of the club game.

"We want to go out there and make the final step and make the breakthrough for Limerick."

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