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Experience key for Caimin’s

IN the world of Munster Colleges hurling, the view is that a school that wins the Dean Ryan Cup (Junior A championship) generally follows with Dr Harty Cup honours a year or two later.
Followers of Ard Scoil Rís in Limerick are keeping their fingers crossed that this is the case as they head into Sunday’s Harty Cup semi-final clash with St Caimin’s. The Limerick side won the junior title last year and players such as Declan Hannon and Shane Dowling will hope that they can add to that win in the senior grade this season.
While team manager Derek Larkin acknowledges the victory in the junior competition, he believes that his side faces a stiff test this week.
“St Caimin’s are a strong team and the experience of having played in last year’s final is set to stand to them. They are a strong side. I expect that this will be another close tie,” he said this week ahead of Sunday’s eagerly awaited contest.
“The fact that we both beat Templemore by similar margins suggests that this will be a close tie. To reach the semi-final for the second year in a row is a fair achievement for both schools,” according to St Caimin’s mentor, Alan Cunningham.
This year the Wolfe Tones man is joined by Paul Kinnerk in the preparation of the side, which draws its players from four clubs, Wolfe Tones, Sixmilebridge, Newmarket and Cratloe.
“This is really about us trying to offer hurling at the highest level to the clubs and working with the clubs,” Cunningham commented this week.
The Ard Scoil Ris backroom team in unchanged this year. Manager Derek Larkin is joined by fellow teachers Liam Cronin and Niall Moran and they are backed up by Natal O’Grady from Patrickswell and Clonlara man Jimmy Browne.
Both sides have about half of their starting line-ups from last year and both qualified from their respective groups in top spots. St Caimin’s beat Doon, drew with Blackwater Community School and beat Templemore to set up a quarter-final date with Midleton, whom they beat by two points.
Midleton started the campaign with a draw with Ard Scoil before the Limerick side beat St Colman’s and Cashel to earn a quarter-final date against Templemore, whom they beat by four points.
Cratloe’s Enda Boyce has been outstanding in the Shannon school’s march to the semi-final but he remains a major doubt for Sunday’s tie due to a hamstring injury suffered in the quarter-final.
He hasn’t been able to train since that game. He is receiving daily physiotherapy and a decision on his fitness will be made nearer match time. St Caimin’s followers are keeping their fingers crossed that he will be able to take his place in defence, as having to line out without him would certainly represent a major blow to their hopes of a second successive final appearance.
Ard Scoil report a clean bill of health and will select from a full squad. Opinions vary as to which team will advance to the final, on February 28 but the favourites tag will be with Ard Scoil should Enda Boyce fail to recover in time to take his place in the St Caimin’s line-up.
It’s the Limerick school’s third year in a row reaching this stage of the competition and their followers will hope that it will be a case of third time lucky and that they can progress to a first ever final appearance in this prestigious competition.

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