Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) 1-22 Oulart the Ballagh (Wexford) 0-20
There may have been controversy in the air but Na Piarsaigh won’t mind after booking their place in a very first AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship final.
The Limerick and Munster champions banished the memories of semi-final defeats in 2012 and 2014 to emerge after extra-time against Wexford’s Oulart the Ballagh in chilly Thurles this evening.
Na Piarsaigh’s victory sets up a clash with Ruairi Og Cushendall on St Patrick’s Day for the Tommy Moore Cup.
2,566 spectators watched a thrilling semi-final go the distance – with Oulart coming from five points down in the second half to ensure two extra ten-minute periods.
But Na Piarsaigh had the extra kick when it was needed most to prevail as Oulart looked a spent force in extra-time.
Na Piarsaigh, however, can consider themselves fortunate to have been awarded the only goal of the game in first half stoppage time when David Breen found the net from inside the 20-metre line.
Slow-motion replays showed that Ronan Lynch fouled the ball as he stood over a long-range free but referee Fergal Horgan didn’t spot the infringement and Na Piarsaigh profited to lead by 1-08 to 0-09 at the turnaround.
Lynch connected with the sliotar as his hurl got stuck in the mud before he jab-lifted it again and struck it goalwards.
In fairness to referee Fergal Horgan, it would have been an extremely difficult offence to spot with the naked eye and Na Piarsaigh profited.
They kicked on to lead by 1-11 to 0-09 ahead early in the second half but Oulart rallied to level at 0-16 to 1-13 at the end of 60 minutes – with Nicky Kirwan’s 10th point, and eighth free, ensuring parity.
But Na Piarsaigh had plenty in reserve and kicked for home to book a safe passage to the final.
OULART THE BALLAGHOulart the Ballagh: Moore (0-02, 1f); D Redmond, M Jacob; T Storey (0-01), D Mythen (0-03), P Murphy; R Jacob, G Sinnott (0-01), N Kirwan (0-10, 8f).
Subs: T Dunne for P Murphy (42), K Nimmo for M Jacob (44), B Dunne (0-01f) for Redmond (52), D Stamp for T Dunne (58), S Doyle for Sinnott (70), Redmond for Mythen (70), D Nolan for Mythen (72).
NA PIARSAIGH: P Kennedy; M Casey, K Breen, K Kennedy; M Foley, R Lynch (0-01f), C King; A Dempsey (0-04), W O’Donoghue (0-01); S Dowling (0-05, 4f), D Breen (1-02), K Ryan; K Downes (0-04), D Dempsey (0-02), P Casey (0-02).
Sub: A Breen (0-01) for Ryan (38)
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary)