NA PIARSAIGH’S impressive victory over St Finbarr’s in the Co-Op Superstores county premier senior hurling championship last weekend came against a backdrop of injuries to important players in the club.
They coped with the suffocating early afternoon heat at Pairc Ui Rinn to inflict a second north-side defeat on the Barrs, Na Piarsaigh running out 2-23 to 0-17 victors.
“We’ve put huge effort into this team, which has taken a few knocks this year,” said delighted manager Colin O’Sullivan.
“We lost a number of key players since we played the Barrs this time last year and are probably down five of the starting 15.
“And they include our captain and vice-captain, Cian Buckley, Eddie Gunning and Pa O’Rourke and they’ve been a huge loss during the year though Dayne Lee has come back into the panel.
“I have to give full credit to the players. We put foundations in place, but it’s the players who’ve trained hard, battled away, and a lot of them play football, too.
“I said it the previous week after the draw with Carrigtwohill that our club is lucky to have these guys because they are a fantastic bunch of players.”
Na Piarsaigh started brightly and were never headed after Shane Forde grabbed the first of his two goals in the fifth minute, his shot striking the stick of keeper Shane Hurley en route.
And the Barrs needed Cian Walsh’s alertness to clear another Forde goal attempt off the line moments later as Na Piarsaigh led 1-6 to 0-4 at the water-break.
Hurley did well to deflect a Padraig Guest goal-bound effort out for a ’65 as the winners jumped 1-10 to 0-5 clear after 23 minutes.
Still, young Brian Hayes led a Barrs rally as they turned around just four points adrift, 1-12 to 0-11.
Forde bundled in his second goal, again at the same time as the first, in the fifth minute, on the resumption.
And O’Sullivan was delighted with the never-give-up approach adopted by Forde and the rest of the attack.
“Both goals came from persistence in the forward line, especially the full-forward line.
“There’s an attitude of not giving up which we want to instill and it paid off.
“They kept chasing. The ball broke for the second goal I don’t know it went off their knees or it was kicked in, but the main thing it went in.
“That’s the kind of persistence we’re looking for, chasing after the ball and not giving up.
“We asked the lads to take that on board this year and they’re doing it so far.
“I thought we had some outstanding performances from Kelvin Forde at midfield, Christopher Joyce and Daire Connery,” he said.
Goalkeeper Luke Donovan stood up manfully to the Barrs' efforts at goals in the second half, particularly as he sustained an injury, as well.
“Luke hobbled on during the game because of the injury and made some great saves. I’m delighted for him.
“In the previous game he made a slight error which led to a goal, but Luke is a senior keeper and he trained hard during the week,” O’Sullivan commented.
The importance of the victory wasn’t lost on the manager and everyone else.
“Our club needed to win this one. We absolutely needed this to help us kick on and it’s a good launching pad for us.
“We’re not that there yet. Because we’ve hurling, football, hurling, football, we take it one game at a time.
“And it’s tough on the players as the football is working just as hard as the hurling. Yet they love it and that’s the difference.
“The win puts us in a good position and there’s no doubt our game with the Glen is going to be a great battle.
“They are one of the form teams in the championship at the moment, but we’re coming into a nice bit of form, as well, so it should be a good game, one that we’re looking forward to,” O’Sullivan concluded.
The Barrs must defeat Carrigtwohill to avoid the relegation play-off as they prop up the table.