LIMERICK will have an early season representation at Croke Park next year with Monaleen qualifying for the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Hurling final.
The Treaty outfit, thanks to an epic semi-final weekend win against Bray Emmets (Wicklow) in Tullamore, will meet Tooreen of Mayo in the All-Ireland final at GAA Headquarters on Saturday, January 14.
Such was the level of utter excitement within the Monaleen camp, even their official Twitter correspondent couldn’t contain themselves, posting the message “Fu**in hell, we are going to Croke Park” to their almost 3,000-strong following.
At Intermediate level, no Limerick side until now has ever qualified for the showpiece, with previous aspirants South Liberties (2009) and Effin (2011) both losing out at the penultimate stage.
Limerick clubs have triumphed just twice on the national stage, namely Blackrock at Junior in 2010 and Na Piarsaigh at Senior six years ago.
At the weekend, Monaleen and Emmets were level for much of the hour and it wasn’t until late goals from Andrew La Touche Cosgrave and Dr Dan Power arrived that the issue was settled, 2-19 to 0-20.
An unfortunate injury was picked up by a very much in-form Mark O’Dwyer, casting a possible doubt over his appearance next month. In his absence, Donnacha Dálaigh was most dependable on free-taking duties.
There was an eye-catching display from Monaleen’s Ronan Lyons, contributor of four lovely points, while Ed Doyle and Luke Murphy each hit a pair of cracking scores.
On the local scene, rising star Cian Scully – a member of Limerick’s Munster Under-20 Hurling Championship winning team earlier in the season – hit a stunning 13 points, including one from a sideline cut, as Dromin/Athlacca overcame dogged Knockaderry (0-19 to 2-9) to land the County Under-20 ‘B’ title in Ballyagran.