Downes shows his class as Na Piarsaigh see off potent Passage threat
Limerick champions book their place in Munster club hurling final
Na Piarsaigh’s David Dempsey and Kevin Downes with Mark Wyse and Stephen Mason of Passage during the Munster club clash at the Gaelic Grounds. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Few gave Passage much of a chance but they turned in a powerful performance. Indeed the outcome might have been much different had Eoin Kelly not seen his second penalty of the afternoon blocked on the line by Cathal King at the expense of a ‘65’ which yielded nothing.
Kevin Downes scored six superb points from play for the winners in a man-of-the-match display.
The heroics of Passage goalkeeper Eddie Lynch also provided a highlight of a contest which ultimately boiled down to the two penalties.
Kelly blasted the first to the Na Piarsaigh net after 22 minutes to put his side 2-4 to 0-8 in front.
The opening goal goal fell to Passage after only three minutes when a huge long range effort by Owen Connors was dropped into his own net by goalkeeper Padraic Kennedy.
That was a huge boost for the underdogs but Na Piarsaigh were on terms 0-5 to 1-2 thanks to points by Downes (two) and Adrian Breen (two) and a free by Shane Dowling after 11 minutes. The Limerick side led for the first time after 19 minutes but Owen Connors pointed a Passage ‘65’ to tie it up again.
A minute before the interval Dowling’s free ensured Na Piarsaigh led by a point 0-11 to 2-4 at the break.
Five minutes into the second half came the second penalty for Passage but this time Kelly’s effort was stopped on the line.
At the end of the third quarter Na Piarsaigh were five points clear and looked to be cruising to victory.
A point with his first touch by substitute Joe McClean was followed by a splendidly-worked goal by John Whitty after 47 minutes to level yet again.
With four minutes remaining a huge upset was still a possibility as they were level for the seventh time of a high-octane affair. Managed by former Clare star, Sean Stack, Na Piarsaigh had the last two points from wing back Alan Dempsey and fittingly another super strike from Downes whose display must have impressed the new Limerick joint-managers, Donal O’Grady and TJ Ryan.
NA PIARSAIGH: P Kennedy; N Buckley, C King, M Casey; A Dempsey (0-1), D Breen, J O’Brien; S Dowling 0-5 (3f), W O’Donoughue (0-1); K Kennedy (0-1), K Downes (0-6), D Dempsey; K Ryan, P Gleeson (0-3) , A Breen (0-3). Subs: J Madigan for Kennedy, 52 mins; B Hartnett for O’Brien 52 mins; A Hennessy for Gleeson, 60 mins.
PASSAGE : E Lynch; J Roche, M Wyse, J Upton; P Walsh, S Mason, M Baldwin; K Fitzgerald (0-2), J Whitty (1-0); O Connors (1-4, one free, two ‘65’s), C Carey, T Connors (0-1); R Walsh, E Kelly 1-1 (pen), S Hogan. Subs: J McClean (0-1) for Walsh, 48 mins.
Referee: C Lyons, Cork.