O’brien enjoying new chapner
Bord Gáis Energy All-ireland U21 AHC final
LIMERICK V KILKENNY
Today: Semple Stadium, 3pm Referee: P O’dwyer, Carlow TV: TG4 Bord Gáis All-ireland U21 HC final: Kilkenny v Limerick, Semple Stadium (P O’dwyer, Carlow), 3pm (TG4).
In each of their last three games, Limerick have been met with a sweeper. It meant the Treaty defence never had to deal with more than five forwards at a time, with centre-back, Kyle Hayes, always taking up the spare-man role. This suited Hayes perfectly and the quality of his delivery into the Limerick attack was a significant factor in the county reaching a second All-ireland U21 final in three years.
Kilkenny won’t operate with a sweeper, and so Hayes won’t be afforded the time and space he enjoyed in previous outings. Pat Donnelly’s forward unit, there- fore, will have to work harder for their scorers. That’s a challenge, you expect, they’ll relish. Such has been their impressive nature that if Tom Morrissey or Cian Lynch are held, you’d expect Peter Casey — the contributor of 1-2 in the semi-final — or Barry Nash to stand up and take charge.
That’s the depth of quality Limerick possess in front of goal. And we haven’t even mentioned deadball specialist, Aaron Gillane. If they click, there’ll only be one outcome.
Six of the Limerick team — Sean Finn, Ronan Lynch, Colin Ryan, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey and Barry Nash — remain from the allconquering class of 2015, while 10 were part of the minor team that fell to today’s opponents in the 2014 All-ireland final.
The Treaty youngsters didn’t show that afternoon and no question but that heartache will be a driving factor for them here. For Kilkenny, the concern has to be the lack of examination this summer.
The semi-final against Derry was nothing short of a joke. The Leinster final, played back on July 5, was one-sided, also. Still, with Jason Cleere, Richie Leahy, Huw Lawlor, Shane Walsh, and Liam Blanchfield among their ranks, Eddie Brennan’s group will be quietly confident of doing a job similar to that of 2014.
Bord Gáis All-ireland U21, BHC final: Kerry v Wicklow, Semple Stadium, 1pm, (TG4). Centre-forward, Michael O’leary, and full-forward, Shane Conway, contributed 0-16 between them during Kerry’s 1-23 to 1-9 semifinal win over Meath. They’ll take watching.
Wicklow had it much tougher in their semi-final, against Kildare. Enda Donohoe, Padraig Doyle, and Garry Huges will lead the charge of the Garden County.
- Eoghan Cormican