Na Piarsagh power to All-Ireland club hurling victory over Cushendall
A blistering first-half performance from Na Piarsaigh saw them make history by becoming the first team from Limerick to win a senior All-Ireland club hurling title.
Kilmallock (twice), Patrickswell (twice) and Ballybrown (once) had all fallen short on final day but city outfit Na Piarsaigh broke new ground for Treaty clubs with a performance that saw them dominate from pillar to post.
And in the process, they ended a losing streak for senior teams from the county at Croke Park that stretches back to the last time the treaty won Liam McCarthy in 1973. Since then, nine different senior teams from Limerick had fallen short on All-Ireland final day until Na Piarsaigh's success.
The Limerick men had the spade work done at half-time. Adrian Breen was a late inclusion to the Na Piarsaigh line up and he repaid that faith inside 34 seconds. On their first attack, David Dempsey spotted Breen's run beyond the Cushendall cover and his excellent first touch gave him the space finished well beyond Eoin Gillan.
Cushendall hit two points in response but the Limerick men would take over for the next 20 minutes. In that period they'd outscore their opponents by 1-10 to a single point with Alan Dempsey and Peter Casey finding their range and Shane Dowling converting almost everything from placed balls.
Their second goal came about after a tremendous team move. Na Piarsaigh goalkeeper Padraic Kennedy gathered a dropping ball in his square and found Cathal King with a clever pass. King raced 60 metres up field and found Kevin Downes whose excellent first touch to get way from his marker was bettered only by his calm finish.
Cushendall hit three on the bounce then but Na Piarsaigh had the final say with two late scores as they took a 2-12 to 0-6 lead in at the break. The second half saw more of the same. Cushendall kept trying but even when Neil McManus snaffled a goal, it left them 13 points in arrears.
Karl McKeegan also grabbed a goal with just minutes left to play but it didn't even amount to a consolation score for the Antrim men. And with Dowling, the excellent Adrian Breen and Peter Casey all in good form, they ran out comfortable winners.
SCORERS - Na Piarsaigh: A Breen 1-4, S Dowling 0-7 (5f),K Downes 1-2, A Dempsey 0-4, P Casey 0-3, D Breen 0-2, W O'Donoghue, R Lynch, P Gleeson (1 '65) 0-1 each.
Cushendall: N McManus 1-7 (7f), S McNaughton 0-4, K McKeegan 1-0, C Carson, A Delargy, E Campbell 0-1 each
Na Piarsaigh: P Kennedy; M Casey, K Breen, K Kennedy; M Foley, R Lynch, C King; A Dempsey, W O'Donoghue; S Dowling, D Breen, A Breen; K Downes, D Dempsey, P Casey SUBS: K Ryan for Breen (54), P Gleeson for O'Donoghue (56).
Cushendall: E Gillan; R McCambridge, M Burke, A Graffin; D Kearney, E Campbell, S Delray; S McNaughton, A Delargy; C Carson, N McManus, S McAfee; P McGill, D McNaughton, C McNaughton SUBS: P Burke for Delargy (34), K McKeegan for D McNaughton (38), A McNaughton for C McNaughton (43), E McKillop for Graffin (55), E Laverty for McGill (58)
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork)