Portumna and Na Piarsaigh set for Semple Stadium showdown
Galway county senior hurling champions Portumna will play Limerick's Na Piarsiagh this Saturday in Semple Stadium at 5pm under lights in the All-Ireland senior club-final.
Portumna qualified following their comprehensive win over Loughrea last October and go forward as Connacht champions.
Formed in 1968, Na Piarsiagh picked up their second Munster senior hurling title in three years. Adominant display in the Munster club final saw them defeat Sixmilebridge by 4-14 to 0-8, with Kevin Downes, Kevin Ryan, Adrian Breen and substitute David Sheppard scoring the goals.
Na Piarsaigh is an impressive outfit and in David Breen, Kevin Downes and Shane Dowling, who all won Munster senior medals with Limerick last year, the club has some genuine leaders.
Imposing and progressive club, they will be tough to beat this weekend, and Portumna captain Ollie Canning agrees.
"Na Piarsaigh is a big, strong, skilful and formidable young side and we expect a real battle on Saturday. They won the Munster title in 2011 and again last year, and they will be busting a gut to get to the final. We will have to be at our best to beat them," he says.
Portumna have appeared in four All-Ireland finals (winning three) and are aiming for a fifth appearance if they can get over Saturday.
"We always take things one day at a time, one game at a time. We have trained very hard for this game. We took a few weeks off over Christmas, and that rest can be very beneficial and, despite the bad weather, we have had some very good sessions.
“We are lucky to have Noel Larkin [coach] who is top class and he keeps training very sharp and fresh. So the mood is very good and we are looking forward to the clash on Saturday."
Portumna, who have played two challenges against Limerick IT and the Tipperary senior squad to prepare, have a few niggling injury worries, but there is unlikely to be too many changes from the starting 15 who were impressive in the county final.
At 37 years of age, Ollie Canning is still enjoying his hurling and would love to have another canter around Croke Park in an All-Ireland club final.
"Na Piarsaigh is a good side, and so are we. It will go down to whichever side produces a performance on the day. All we can do is go to Thurles and give it our best shot. If that is good enough remains to be seen, but we have a lot of belief in our panel. If we play to our best, we won't be far away."