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Dublin: 8°C Monday 8 March 2021

A potential hurling cracker, Limerick's winning run and Tipperary's additions to starting side

All eyes are on today’s hurling showdown in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Limerick's Aaron Gillane and Tipperary's Brendan Maher in action in the 2019 Munster final.
Limerick's Aaron Gillane and Tipperary's Brendan Maher in action in the 2019 Munster final.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

1. A hurling cracker to start off November

The reigning All-Ireland winners against the current Munster and league kingpins. Today’s fixture is loaded with potential, even if the timing is unusual for the first day of November to be the stage for such a big hurling showdown.

Limerick have the benefit of a clash last Sunday to tune up, sweeping Clare aside as a reminder that they have not lost their form. That performance reaffirmed their credentials and yet Tipperary are the national title holders who all the others must aim to dethrone.

In this compressed 2020 hurling schedule we have already seen Limerick, Waterford, Kilkenny and Galway make flying starts while Clare, Cork, Laois and Wexford have issues to untangle, and Dublin have endured a mixed bag of results. Tipperary are the last to step into action, exactly eight months since their last competitive outing when they beat Waterford by two points in the league.

2. Tipperary results trend when facing Limerick

The Croke Park outcome was the defining feature of Tipperary’s 2019 season. That All-Ireland triumph rightly launched tributes in their direction but there is one issue they will be eager to rectify. Last June they defeated Limerick in Thurles but the sense of that game acting as a dress rehearsal was hardened when John Kiely’s team dazzled in style during the main show a fortnight later.

That Munster final win has combined with a couple of league victories for Limerick over Tipperary since the start of the 2019 season. Everything that has unfolded over the past week has done little to dispel the theory that this pair are currently in the top hurling tier. Defeating a leading contender would be a strong statement for Liam Sheedy’s side and alter a developing pattern.

john-kiely-and-liam-sheedy-at-the-end-of-the-game Limerick boss John Kiely and Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

3. Can Tipperary get joy when facing the Limerick full-back line?

Last summer’s Munster final saw Tipperary’s inside forwards face a formidable Limerick defensive trio of Sean Finn, Mike Casey and Richie English. Today only Finn is set to line out, the remaining duo struck down with cruciate injuries. Dan Morrissey is named at full-back, four years since he last wore number three in a Tipperary-Limerick game, and Barry Nash is in at left corner.

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The new look nature to Limerick’s full-back line means it’s an area likely to be tested. Tony Kelly floated around to telling effect last Sunday but Tipperary have a wider array of attacking weapons to choose from than Clare. John McGrath, Seamus Callanan and Jake Morris pack a collective punch that Limerick’s entire defensive unit will be required to mind.

4. New Tipperary faces drafted in for halting Limerick drive

Liam Sheedy has named 11 of his All-Ireland winning heroes which means the intrigue lies in the additions of Seán O’Brien, Alan Flynn, Mark Kehoe and Jake Morris. It’s not a bunch of greenhorns selected given they all came on against either Wexford or Kilkenny at the critical stage of last season.

Given Limerick’s stirring showing last Sunday and their display that blew Tipperary away last June, how do those different faces fit in to those plans? O’Brien comes in with a potential role to stifle Peter Casey or Graeme Mulcahy. Flynn was terrific in Kiladangan’s season of glory, his midfield pick could hint at a specific detail for Cian Lynch. Then there’s Kehoe, an imposing figure against Limerick’s powerful half-back line, and Morris inside closer to goal.

5. Another shootout in prospect?

Five games into this winter senior hurling championship and we’ve already had 11-251 posted on the board, an average of 52 scores per game. The numbers have dipped a bit this weekend, 116 in last weekend’s two matches and 92 in yesterday’s Leinster double-bill as a contrast. Wexford are the only side to have fallen shy of the 20-point mark.

The level of scoring has been brought into sharp focus, a relentless sequence of puckouts and shots are not the game patterns to everyone’s liking. It’s still a small sample size and more evidence will be required but the direction hurling is taking in the Covid era is striking. Today in Páirc Uí Chaoimh will tell more.


The42 GAA Weekly is here! Join hosts Shane Dowling and Marc Ó Sé as they preview Tipperary v Limerick, Donegal v Tyrone, and the rest of the weekend’s action:

Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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