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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

The big talking points ahead of Sunday’s clash between Limerick and Galway

The climax of the All-Ireland hurling championship is upon us.

1. Limerick look to end 45-year famine

LIMERICK ARE BACK in the All-Ireland final for the first time in 11 years and seeking to bridge a 45-year gap without the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Their last appearance in hurling’s showpiece game was a harrowing experience.

Peter Casey, Darragh O’Donovan, Graeme Mulcahy and Seamus Flanagan celebrate Peter Casey, Darragh O’Donovan, Graeme Mulcahy and Seamus Flanagan celebrate the semi-final win over Cork. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Back in 2007, they faced a Kilkenny side in their pomp and fell behind 2-3 to no score after 10 minutes. The Shannonsiders fought back to put some respectability on the scoreboard, losing in the end by 2-19 to 1-15.

Galway, on the other hand, ended a 29-year famine last September and haven’t lost a championship game since August 2016. They ground out a 0-26 to 2-17 win over Waterford 12 months ago and are bidding to replicate the two-in-a-row they last achieved in 1987-88.

Jonathan Glynn celebrates scoring a goal Jonathan Glynn will be a key figure in the Galway attack. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

2. Scoring threats

There will be some devastating attacking options on show tomorrow afternoon. The Limerick system is based on a deep-lying half-forward line which tries to leave plenty of space in front of their dangerous inside trio.

Graeme Mulcahy, Seamus Flanagan and Aaron Gillane have been in fine form this summer. Both Flanagan and Gillane are graduates of the 2017 All-Ireland winning U21 crop, with Gillane currently sitting in seventh place in the overall scoring rankings this summer with 1-34.

Mulcahy is the veteran of the Treaty attack and likes to operate in between the half and full-forward lines.

Galway meanwhile will deploy 6’5 Johnny Glynn on the edge of the square and look to bombard him with aerial ball, with the likes of Conor Whelan and Cathal Mannion playing off him. Joe Canning pulls the strings for the half-forward line, where Galway are blessed with strong shooters.

Gearoid McInerney injured Gearoid McInerney missed the semi-final but is expected to return to centre-back for the decider. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. Gearoid McInerney dilemma

All-Star centre-back McInerney missed the semi-final replay win over Clare with a calf injury but is expected to resume his place at 6 tomorrow.

It’s a risk for Donoghue to start McInerney as the 27-year-old is unlikely to have had much training done since he picked up the knock in the drawn game with Clare at Croke Park.

Padraic Mannion filled in brilliantly for McInerney at centre-back the last day out and Joseph Cooney performed admirably as a converted wing-back, so Donoghue has options if McInerney pulls up during the game.

Shane Dowling celebrates at the final whistle Shane Dowling is a driving force for Limerick off the bench. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. Limerick bench press

The 2-6 Limerick’s bench contributed played no small part in their come-from-behind semi-final win over Cork.

Shane Dowling, Peter Casey, Pat Ryan and David Reidy all got themselves on the scoreboard, with Dowling particularly influential after his introduction. Such is Limerick’s strength in depth that talented hurlers Kevin Downes and David Dempsey didn’t even make their 26-man matchday panel in the semi-final.

Galway boss Donoghue will be aware of Limerick’s threat off the bench. Galway tend to blow teams away in the opening quarter so they’ll be hoping to have a decent lead built up by the time John Kiely starts rolling out the replacements in the second-half.

Tom Morrissey and Gearoid McInerney McInerney chases Tom Morrissey during their March league meeting. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

5. Key match-ups

As ever, the final will throw up some fascinating match-ups all over the field. Limerick full-back Mike Casey will give up five inches in height to Tribe dangerman Glynn in what could be the key battle tomorrow.

If Conor Whelan starts at corner-forward he’s likely to be tracked by Sean Finn, but Donoghue may post him at centre-forward where he enjoyed himself in Thurles two weeks ago. If he does start at 11, Declan Hannon must decide whether to track Whelan or hold the middle.

For Galway, Johnny Coen will pick up Cian Lynch and Daithi Burke will mark Flanagan. John Hanbury is likely to be handed man-marking duties on Gillane with Adrian Tuohey following Mulcahy.

Both teams have tall and powerful half-backs and half-forwards, so the middle third in Croke Park will be a real war zone. Whichever side can win eight or nine match-ups around the field is likely to be celebrating with the MacCarthy Cup tomorrow night.

Limerick and Galway meet in the All-Ireland senior hurling final at 3.30pm on Sunday. Specsavers are proud sponsors of Hawk-Eye at Croke Park. To make sure you don’t miss a point, book an appointment online today at specsavers.ie

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