By Conor Martin
Na Fianna’s pursuit of a first-ever AIB Leinster Club Senior Hurling Championship steps up a gear this weekend as they take on Naas in the semi-finals.
2023 has been a year to remember for Na Fianna, as they finally won the Go-Ahead Dublin Senior 1 Hurling Championship after suffering heartbreak in the 2021 and 2022 finals.
Seán Currie and Colin Currie have been red-hot this year and have added a touch of spice to the Northsiders attack.
Colin Currie scored 0-09 in their quarter-final win over Raharney, while Brian Ryan’s goal just before the final whistle ensured the Dubliners would advance to the last four after they finally shook off a determined Raharney team.
The Kildare champions, Naas, have been sitting on top of Kildare’s hurling throne unmoved since winning the 2019 Kildare Senior Hurling Championship and exiting the competition at this stage last year at the hands of eventual Leinster and All-Ireland winners, Ballyhale Shamrocks.
Their 11th Kildare senior title came at the expense of Coill Dubh, as goals from cousins Jack Sheridan and Brian Byrne helped secure an 11-point win and the club's fifth successive title. Sheridan is going to be a man that Na Fianna can’t afford to give too much room to because, when let loose, he has the knack of scoring for fun, which he demonstrated in the Kildare Championship as he finished as the Championship’s top scorer with a remarkable 8-62.
The duo continued their excellent form in Naas’s quarter-final against Camross, as both found the net once more and Sheridan notched up 1-10 to set up this weekend’s showdown with Na Fianna.
Cian Boran is another asset to the men in blue and white hoops attack, while their defence is held up by Ross Kelly and Sean Gainey, who will be tasked with keeping Na Fianna’s bright sparks in attack AJ Murphy and the Currie brothers.
It’s all to play for this weekend as the race for the O’Neill Cup heats up, with the winner from Saturday’s game taking on Offaly’s Kilcormac-Killoughey or O'Loughlin Gaels from Kilkenny in the Leinster final.