Rivals ready for derby clash


Limerick v Clare - GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Phase 3THE LIMERICK senior hurlers will face Clare this Sunday 18 at 3.30pm in the All Ireland hurling semi final.
Both panels are expected to be at full strength. Limerick were sweating on the fitness of both Kevin Downes and Seanie Tobin, however both are expected to play some part.
Tobin, who suffered a broken toe during the Munster final is expected to start, while Kevin Downes (broken toe also) will be available off of the bench at headquarters.
The semi final pairing, a repeat of last season’s Phase Three qualifier which Limerick won 3-18 to 1-20, is expected to attract a crowd in excess of 60,000.
The first semi final, between Cork and Dublin, was a vintage display of open hurling. Something that Limerick and Clare will not be. Both managers are renowned country wide for their tactical abilities and Limerick manager John Allen believes that this weekend will see those abilities more than tested.
“There will be a lot of tactics in this game. We have discussed that with the players before the last two games because things happen in games like a corner forward comes to midfield or a centre forward drops a bit and the last day Clare used a sweeper and Galway never got to grips with that,” added Allen.
“We would be hoping that our three half forwards won’t allow them to dominate and therefore keep the pressure off our half backs and midfield and not allow Clare to have a run at dictating the play. Up to a month ago Tony Kelly had been written up as their play maker but now it’s Podge Collins. Clare are changing all the time,” the Cork native continued.
The Limerick manager knows that the Clare challenge will be more than tactical too.
“We are all aware of Clare and there is no doubt that Davy is passionate about hurling and thinks about his hurling. It’s well documented that his players have done a huge amount of work since they came together early in the year.
“They have been criticised for over playing the short game but I don’t think you could say their game was that short the last day. Their work rate is extremely high and that means you will have players like bees around the place and we need to contain that.”
The pedigree of both managers is not to be questioned. Having served as a selector during Donal O’Grady’s management term in Cork, Allen took over as boss in late 2004 and remained in charge for two seasons, during which the Rebels won two Munster (2005-2006) and one All-Ireland title (2005). In that period, they won nine of ten championship games, their only defeat coming against Kilkenny in the 2006 decider. Allen stood down as manager at the end of 2006.
He again succeeded Donal O’Grady, this time as Limerick manager, at the start of 2012. He steered them to Munster title success this year while his overall championship record over the two seasons’ reads: Played 6 Won 4 Lost 2.
Davy Fitzgerald replaced Justin McCarthy as Waterford manager in mid-season 2008 and led them to the All-Ireland final for the first time since 1963 three months later, where they lost to Kilkenny. He remained as Waterford manager until the end of the 2011 season, the highpoint of which was a Munster title win in 2010.
With the teams inseperable by the bookies, the scene is set for a titanic battle. With some much at stake, bragging rights aside, the final whistle on Sunday will see the winner 70 minutes from All Ireland glory. Incentive enough, outside of the long standing rivalry between the counties.