The Nire’s players and supporters celebrate their win over Rathgormack in the County Final. Up next is a trip to Ennis to take on Clare champions Eire Og. Photo: Maurice Hennebry.
Sunday, November 13 – AIB Munster Club S.F.C. Quarter-final at Cusack Park, Ennis 1.15 pm. Eire Og V The Nire
For the second year running Waterford champions The Nire face into a difficult away assignment in the opening round of the Munster Club Senior Football Championship as they travel to Ennis to face newly crowned Clare Champions Eire Og of Ennis on their home patch. Last year The Waterford champions lost out narrowly away to Limerick side Newcastle West in a game played under the most difficult conditions.
Eire Og’s win in the Clare final was something of a surprise as the club was originally aiming for a unique double in the Banner with their hurlers having made it to the county final against Ballyea. Defeat in the hurling final would have been a big blow but the club showed its resilience in coming back to retain their football title, having broken the hold of the West Clare football strongholds of such as Kilmurry- Ilbrickane and St. Josephs Miltown-Malbay on the title last year.
The Nire have probably the best record of Waterford clubs in Munster football having contested three finals so far this century. In 2004 they were most unlucky to lose out to a Dr. Crikes side powered by Colm Cooper and Eoin Brosnan on a score of 2-5 to 0-8 having dominated for much of the game. They faced Kerry opposition again in the 2014 final in Pairc Uí Chaoimh with Austin Stacks the odds on favourites but again The Nire rose to the occasion and having been on the wrong end of some very controversial decisions lost out on a score of 3-5 to 2-4. It was back to the Munster Final in 2016 when having beaten Cork champions Carbery Rangers in sensational style in Clonakilty there was no arguing the result in the final as they crashed out to Dr. Crokes in Mallow on a score of 3-15 to 0-6.
This Nire side lists a number of hardened Munster campaigners in such as James McGrath, Dermot Ryan, Jamie Barron, Dylan Guiry, Conor Gleeson but this year has seen debutantes from last year such as Sean Walsh, Aaron Ryan, Tholm Guiry, Kyle Cuddy and Tom Barron come of age in the championship, blending seamlessly to make up a formidable unit going into this Munster campaign.
HOME SEMI-FINAL THE PRIZE
That Eire Og recovered from their hurling final defeat to retain their football title against Ennistymon marks them down as a side to be reckoned with just six of their hurlers involved with their football team. In that number is team captain Gavin Cooney who scored six of his side’s nine points in the county final and is certainly one to require close attention by the Nire defence on Sunday as is corner forward Mark McInerney. Last year Eire Og beat Loughmore-Castleiney on a score of 2-11 to 0-12 in Ennis before losing out away to eventual Munster champions St. Finbarrs in the semi by 2-14 to 0-12.
The Ennis side are clearly a formidable outfit but The Nire, though going in as outsiders here, will not worry them. They have players of proven ability at this level and will relish the challenge with a home semi-final against Kerry’s Kerins O’Rahillys awaiting them if they win.