Na Piarsaigh were dealt a blow in their quest for a Munster club title with last week’s news that Limerick forward Shane Dowling is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
This Sunday the Shannonside champions have home comforts when they face Blackrock of Cork in the provincial semi-final. After Ballygunner were impressive in their quarter-final win on Sunday, they face Sixmilebridge in the other last-four encounter.
Of the quartet remaining in the championship, the Rockies are in a unique situation – they are the only side in the Munster Championship who did not win a county title – losing to divisional side Imokilly in the Cork final.
There is an unknown quantity about Sunday’s opponents – who have not won a Cork title since 2002. This makes preparation difficult as you don’t know as much about the opposition.
Before the loss to the east Cork divisional side, they went 14 years without a county final appearance – meaning that few people outside of the Rebel County knew much about the current squad the famous club have.
Dowling said of Blackrock:
“I wasn’t at the (county final), I have no idea how good or bad they are, but they’re a very proud Cork club, so I’d imagine they want to do the club proud (Sunday).”
However, Na Piarsaigh, and Dowling who will have to watch from the sidelines, are under no illusions that the Cork representatives are a good side – but confessed it is an odd situation playing a side in Munster who are coming in from a loss.
“Yeah, it’s definitely unique. We obviously wouldn’t have come across it, but as far as we’re concerned we have to play a Munster semi-final in the Gaelic Grounds and we just want to do ourselves justice because we have a good side and we won’t be thinking about Blackrock, whether they go out for a week after the county final or they don’t go out at all that’s their own business.
“We’ve got a good bunch of players there with a very professional and home-grown management team and we want to keep our record in Munster the way it is and whether Blackrock won, lost or drew the county final, to us it’s just another team and we just have to go out and play to our potential.”
Unbeaten in the Munster Championship in their history with three provincial titles to their name, Na Piarsaigh aren’t going to let that record to lightly.
Sunday will be the Limerick city club’s tenth Munster Championship game, and they are yet to taste defeat. Despite being heavy favourites, Dowling’s absence could be crucial. Despite this, however, they will be determined to make home advantage count and reach a fourth provincial final in seven years.
Joel Slattery, Pundit Arena
Shane Dowling was speaking at the launch of the AIB Club Championships.