The Nire players celebrating their win over Rathgormack in the Waterford Co. SFC final in Fraher Field. Tomorrow they travel to Limerick in the Munster Club SFC. Photo Sean Byrne.
Saturday – Munster Club S.F.C. in Newcastle West 1 p.m. Newcastle West V The Nire
On Saturday next The Nire renew their quest for that elusive Munster title when they make the trip to West Limerick to face Limerick Champions Newcastle West on their home soil. Of all the Waterford title holders The Nire probably have the best record in Munster competition having contested three finals.
The first was in 2006 when The Nire faced a star studded Dr. Crokes team led by Colm Cooper and Eoin Brosnan in the final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. This was a game in which The Nire were the better team for much of the time but lost out in the end on a score of 2-5 to 0-8. The Nire were back in the final in 2014 and again lost out narrowly to Austin Stacks of Kerry, somewhat controversially, with the score at 3-5 to 2-4. Their last final appearance was in 2016 when after beating Cork champions Carbery Rangers in the semi-final, played in Clonakilty by 2-15 to 1-13 they crashed in the final to Dr. Crokes in Mallow on a score of 3-15 to 0-6.
They have a good record against Limerick opposition in this competition, beating Ballylanders comfortably in 2014 in Kilmallock on their way to the Munster Final against Austin Stacks and again in 2018 when scoring a decisive 1-18 to 0-12 win over Adare in The Gaelic Grounds before losing out to St. Josephs Miltown – Malbay in the semi-final in Fraher Field.
Such results would suggest that Waterford club football is of a higher standard than that in Limerick but Newcastle West’s last outing in Munster was in 2019 and on that occasion they were unlucky to go out to subsequent champions Nemo Ranger on a score of 1-9 to 0-9 in Mallow. That Nemo went on to beat Austin Stacks by nineteen points in their semi-final meeting and followed on by beating Clonmel Commercials by nine points in the final held in Fraher Field suggests that this Newcastle West side is a cut above the teams faced by The Nire in previous years.
The Nire will need to show improvement from the form shown in the county final against Rathgormack. They came through to the final without being extended in any of their games and were classed as strong favourites against the former champions. On the day, however, they were outplayed for much of the game and had to dig deep to hold out to the final whistle. It was not a good day at the office for Michael Ryan’s team but still, experience saw them through to take the title.
They are a better team than they showed in the county final and if they get big performances from players like Thomas O’Gorman, James McGrath, Dylan Guiry, Dermot Ryan, Jamie Barron, Conor Gleeson and Shane Ryan they can advance to a semi-final against the Kerry champions Kerins O’Rahillys or Austin Stacks two weeks later.