NA PIARSAIGH are the undisputed modern-day kingpins of Limerick hurling, courtesy of a string of county and provincial championship triumphs in recent times, along, of course, with annexing our only All-Ireland Championship title in 2016.
The rivalry between themselves and Ballygunner is intense, and both clubs will be hoping to move closer to a fifth Munster triumph at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday.
On the betting front, the Gunners have been installed as favourites to contest next month’s Munster Final, and then scale the national summit early in the New Year.
Outside of brilliant Limerick ambassadors Na Piarsaigh, second in the market for further honours this season, others in the reckoning are St Thomas’s of Galway and Kilkenny’s O’Loughlin Gaels, with the rest – including neighboring Clonlara – all a fancy price.
At the heart of Na Piarsaigh’s positivity is full-back and captain Mike Casey.
He previously disclosed: “Us in Na Piarsaigh we’re a brotherhood, we’ve played together since we were four or five years old and you’ll do absolutely anything for those lads no matter who’s standing in front of you.”
And on the beauty of the county championship, which Na Piarsaigh won for an eighth occasion with the reasonably impressive final defeat of Patrickswell, Casey said: “I think that’s (the Limerick team friendships) the beauty of the Limerick championship, we definitely tear strips out of each other, even more so because you want to get one over on each other. There’s no loyalties there.”
With the prospect of professionalism within the GAA, amateur Casey admitted to extra.ie that “we’re nearly at the limit with what professionals can do”.
“You are living a professional lifestyle in an amateur setting. It can’t go much more, it really can’t.”
He added: “The grassroots are so important. I started my career with my club Na Piarsaigh and I’ll finish with my club. And there’s a beautiful innocence to that.”
The Munster Final is listed for the opening weekend of December.