O’brien en­joy­ing new chap­ner

Irish Examiner - Sport - - GAA - Eoghan Cormi­can

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.

Ver­dict: Lim­er­ick

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.

Ver­dict: Kerry

- Eoghan Cormi­can

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