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5 talking points after today's Munster hurling and football draws

There’s plenty to discuss.

Patrick Horgan celebrates scoring a goal that helped gun down Limerick in 2019.
Patrick Horgan celebrates scoring a goal that helped gun down Limerick in 2019.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Limerick’s All-Ireland defence begins

Of all the sides in Munster, Cork have proven in recent years they’ve got the weapons to cause problems for Limerick. Kieran Kingston is expected to reinvigorate his team with youth this year, but the Rebels will still have plenty of survivors from their last championship meeting in 2019.

On that afternoon 23 months ago Cork ripped up the Munster hurling form book with a seven-point victory in the Gaelic Grounds. The season before, Cork brought the Treaty to extra-time in the All-Ireland semi-final but failed to get over the line. 

The defending provincial and All-Ireland champions won’t be looking beyond their semi-final opponents, despite a poor 2020 campaign that saw Cork lose two of their three championship games. 

Beat Cork and John Kiely’s men are 70 minutes away from sealing first Munster three-in-a-row since 1935.

2. Clare handed tough task

Clare hurling has been rocked by governance issues and a furore over their training facilities in Caherlohan over the past few months.

For the second year in succession, they’ll start the Munster SHC in the quarter-final stage, with All-Ireland finalists Waterford and 2019 champions Tipperary to be beaten if they’re to reach the provincial decider. 

The Banner are seeking revenge on a Deise side that defeated them by nine points in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final. It’s a difficult task for Brian Lohan’s side, particularly given all the off-field drama that has played out in the media during the off-season. 

liam-sheedy-late-in-the-game Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

3. Tipperary will be quietly confident

With Limerick on the other side of the draw, Tipperary fans will be fancying their chances of taking down either Waterford or Clare to reach another provincial final.

A potential showdown with former Tipperary player and U21 manager Liam Cahill could be in the offing if Waterford advance. Cahill is a man many feel should replace Liam Sheedy when the top job becomes available again, so it will add a layer of intrigue to that game.

The Banner shouldn’t be written off and with a fully fit Tony Kelly and John Conlon in their ranks, they’ll pose plenty of problems.

The Premier haven’t won a Munster title since 2016 and they’ve only reached one final in the last four years, so Liam Sheedy will undoubtedly be targeting a strong provincial campaign.

4. No backdoor in football

The lack of a second bite at the cherry means the provincial football ties will have more importance than their hurling counterparts. 

Colm Collins must be cursing his luck after the Banner were draw against Kerry for the sixth time since 2014.

The lack of a qualifier system will greatly hurt a side like Clare, who are facing All-Ireland contenders in the opening round with no chance of putting together another run in the backdoor, as they’ve done in the past.

It’s too late to argue the point now, but the GAA might have been better served reducing the number of league games to give counties such as the Banner at least one more championship game. 

sean-powter-with-gavin-white-and-paul-murphy Cork's Sean Powter takes on Gavin White and Paul Murphy of Kerry. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

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5. Potential Cork-Kerry final

The Kingdom’s shock loss to Cork is still fresh in the memory banks and Peter Keane’s men must have endured a difficult few months waiting for the opportunity to put that result to bed.

If they beat Clare as expected they’ll face Munster champions Tipperary, who promise to offer a stern examination of Kerry’s much criticised defence. 

Limerick have improved under Billy Lee and will be favourites to overcome Waterford, before Cork await in the last four.

2020 was an unusual one for Ronan McCarthy’s group in that they lit up the championship with a last-ditch win over Kerry before under-performing in the final and letting a glorious chance of tasting provincial glory slip. 

The draw points to a Kerry-Cork final but as 2020 taught us, looking too far ahead in championship football is a dangerous game. 

****

Munster SHC

Quarter-finals
Clare v Waterford

Semi-finals
Limerick v Cork
Tipperary v Clare/Waterford

Munster SFC

Quarter-finals
Clare v Kerry
Waterford v Limerick

Semi-finals
Tipperary v Clare/Kerry
Cork v Waterford/Limerick

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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