5 talking points before Cork and Limerick's Munster hurling final clash

Throw-in at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this afternoon is 4pm.

Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

1. Location Is Key

The fact that today is the last stand in Páirc Uí Chaoimh enhances the occasion before major refurbishment. Cork will be keen for a victorious send-off, even more so after the disappointment suffered by the county’s footballers last weekend. It’s going to be interesting to see whether home advantage assists them.

The hordes of Limerick fans in the Gaelic Grounds certainly roared them on to victory last summer. Will Cork replicate those scenes today? Or can Limerick stake an early foothold in the game to upset the crowd? Location could be key.

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

2. Battle of the free takers

There’ll be 30 players in action today but on the evidence of their sides victories to date, the input of Patrick Horgan and Shane Dowling will be crucial. Horgan has been magnificent for Cork this year and has chalked up 2-33 in those games with 2-25 from placed balls.

Limerick have only had one outing but Shane Dowling demonstrated his worth that day with 2-9 against Tipperary and 1-9 was contributed from frees. After cameo roles off the bench in 2013, he wears the look of a player determined to star from the start.

Will the game be distilled down to a battle of the free takers? Both sides have aces in that regard and defenders have to be mindful of conceding frees with such lethal marksmen around capable of punishing them.

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

3. Cork’s squad improvements

Limerick captain Donal O’Grady reflected during the week on what store could be placed in last year’s Munster final. He surmised that it was difficult to hold much relevance for the game given the scale of change in the Cork setup.

O’Grady is well aware of that overhaul given he’ll start at centre-forward today in opposition to a Cork player who only made his championship breakthrough this summer in Mark Ellis. Last summer Ellis was watching on as the Cork hurlers competed and he’s not the only new addition.

Damien Cahalane, Aidan Walsh, Bill Cooper and Alan Cadogan have all broken in to the starting line-up as well. Paudie O’Sullivan is back from injury and Eoin Cadogan is back from football duties to supplement the substitute options. Cork’s squad has certainly improved.

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

4. Limerick’s bid for back-to-back titles

Last July Limerick made a significant statement when winning their first Munster senior hurling crown in 17 years. Last month they made another significant statement when defeating Tipperary in senior championship in Thurles after a 41-year wait. Can they win back-to-back provincial titles today for the first time since 1980 and 1981?

The Limerick players and management were quick to criticise the outsider tag that was placed upon them for the semi-final against Tipperary. They’ve been cast into a similar role before today’s game. Will they channel that frustration to claim another seismic success?

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

5. Cork’s search for Munster hurling silverware

50 Munster senior hurling titles have been won by Cork teams but the pursuit of the 51st triumph has been a fruitless task since they were champions in 2006. It’s been a barren spell for their supporters to endure and a fruitless time on the fields for their players.

Of the current squad only Shane O’Neill has a Munster senior hurling medal to his name and he has publicly stated that he doesn’t place much store in that 2006 honour as he was an unused substitute in the early stages of his senior career. There is a huge hunger in the Cork squad to succeed and securing silverware today would be a feat that they will really cherish.

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