THE LIMERICK under 21 hurlers will take on Tipperary in Semple Stadium Thurles at 7.30pm on this Friday evening. Limerick’s management team of T.J.Ryan, Clem Smith, Peter Finn and trainer Adrian O’ Brien of Kilmallock will have several senior players at their disposal, with Declan Hannon of Adare the captain for this weekend’s clash.
The team recently played a number of challenge games including a win over Kilkenny under 21’s last week.
Three years ago both Limerick and Tipperary exited the Munster minor hurling championship without winning a meaningful game, but hindsight now shows that their respective narrow defeats to a very strong Clare team were actually quite decent results. That Clare side went all the way to the All Ireland final.
For that reason, both Tipperary and Limerick are entitled to look forward to this year’s under-21 championship with some optimism, even if the season will end for one of the two panels at Semple Stadium.
Paddy Power have installed the home side as the narrow favourites (8/11) to progress inside the hour, while 5/4 is on offer about a Limerick victory and it’s 10/1 that the match ends up level and extra time is needed.
Considering Tipperary’s home advantage and the fact that they’re working with a lot less crossover with the senior squad, that’s probably a fair reflection of two otherwise evenly matched teams.
Tipperary have been scoring goals freely in challenge games, hitting an incredible 7-26 against an admittedly poor Offaly team in Birr last week, while they too will be keen to drive at the Limerick defence direct from the puckout, if they can win good primary possession. That tendency on the part of both teams could lead to a higher than average rate of goalscoring in the tie.
Shane Dowling is Limerick’s leading light when it comes to first goalscorer betting at 13/2 with Paddy Powers, but we’d be inclined to look elsewhere and go for Adrian Breen, who will almost certainly line out in one of the two corners. Dowling’s club mate has established himself as a senior hurler this year and while he may not catch the headlines in the same fashion, his keen eye for goal will be a huge asset to this team, particularly since Tipperary have adopted a tactic this year of packing their most experienced hurlers into the middle third of the field. Four of the five Premier starters from last year will line out from 5-12 and while Andrew Ryan of Toomevara will presumably man the edge of the square, Breen should still fancy his chances of getting a goal chance or two from the corner against more moderate opposition – and at 8/1, we fancy his chances of doing so too.
Limerick Under 21 Team:
1 Owen Webb O Rourke (Kilmallock),
2 Alan Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh),
3 Mark O Loughlin (Kilmallock)
4 Mark Carmody (Patrickswell)
5 Dan Morrissey (Ahane)
6 Barry O Connell (Kildimo/Pallaskenry)
7 Kevin O Donnell (Kilmallock)
8 Thomas Ryan (South Liberties)
9 Shane Kenny (Ballybrown)
10 Declan Hannon (Adare) (Capt)
11 William Hickey (South Liberties)
12 David Reidy (Dromin/Atlacca)
13 John Fitzgibbon (Adare)
14 Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh)
15 Adrian Breen (Na Piarsaigh).
16 Darragh Stapleton (Doon), 17 Barry Lynch (Feohanagh/Castlemahon),
18 Shane Irwin (Bruff), 19 Diarmuid Byrnes (Patrickswell), 20 Robbie
Egan (Kilmallock), 21 Kevin O Brien (Patrickswell), 22 Michael Ryan
(Murroe/Boher), 23 Jack Aherne (Kileedy) and 24 Brian Griffin
Management; TJ Ryan (Garryspillane), Clem Smith (Ahane) and Peter Finn (Bruree)
Trainer: Adrian O Brien (Kilmallock)