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Monday 18 December 2017

Cuala and Na Piarsaigh are the standout contenders

Na Piarsaigh captain Cathal King. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Na Piarsaigh captain Cathal King. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The marathon quest for the Tommy Moore Cup has been distilled into a four-horse race - even if the bookies would have you believe it's a battle of two.

Holders Cuala and 2016 winners Na Piarsaigh are so far ahead in the betting as to render Liam Mellows and Slaughtneil mere also-rans.

As it stands, Na Piarsaigh are 10/11 All-Ireland favourites ahead of their February 10 semi-final date with 25/1 outsiders Slaughtneil.

But Cuala are hot on Limerick tails, priced 11/10 by BoyleSports prior to their semi-final against 12/1 underdogs Liam Mellows.

While Derry and Galway optimists might beg to differ, Na Piarsaigh and Cuala have been the standout contenders from a long way out and look primed for a March 17 shootout.

The former won the first of their four Limerick SHC titles in 2011 and have now followed each local success with Munster deliverance.

Statement

Their 22-point rout of Blackrock read like a statement of intent. Their eight-point win over Ballgunner, having trailed by four, underlined their character as much as their pedigree.

It's hard to see Slaughtneil, those wonderful dual duellists, sticking with Na Piarsiagh for an hour. Equally, it's difficult to conceive that Liam Mellows will have the depth - or experience - to eclipse Cuala.

That may seem a strange statement to make about Galway and Dublin hurling champions ... but Mellows have just claimed a first SHC title in 47 years, without a single Galway All-Ireland winner in tow.

Meanwhile, Cuala's lauded attack is matched by a defence that was as miserly as ever against Kilcormac, while their capacity to hoover up clean and dirty ball from puckouts and rucks suggest their appetite remains positively voracious.

 

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