HURLING fever has gripped Limerick as the county prepares to tackle Cork in the semi-final of the All-Ireland Senior Championship at Croke Park next Sunday (3.30pm live on RTE and Sky Sports).
It’s been more than ten years since Limerick last contested a final, in which they lost to Kilkenny, and the wait for the Liam McCarthy Cup stretches all the way back to 1973.
Train and bus places are very limited at this late stage, but there are tickets to be had for a contest that is likely to attract over 60,000 supporters to headquarters, with estimates that Limerick will be cheered on by at least 25,000 success-starved fans.
Those making the journey by road are reminded that roadworks around Nass have been causing delays of 45 minutes for commuters.
“The support is fantastic,” acknowledged Limerick manager John Kiely.
“It was great in Thurles to have all the supporters there. We just hope that the people that do come and support us are fully behind the team. And, if you are to judge on this Summer, they have given us fantastic support and I’m sure they will again on Sunday.”
Although Limerick only managed to finish third in the Munster Championship, and thus were denied a place in the provincial final, the young team subsequently came through the qualifier series, first beating lowly Carlow and then just a fortnight ago mighty Kilkenny, in one of the stand-out games of what has been a memorable championship.
The terrific win over the Cats has propelled Limerick into the role of serious silverware contenders, along with opponents Cork, holders Galway and Clare, the latter pair meet in the weekend’s opening semi-final at Croker on Saturday at 5pm.
Sunday’s curtain-raiser is Tipperary/Kilkenny in the All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final, which has a 1.30pm throw-in.
Limerick’s ’73 All-Ireland winning captain was Eamon Grimes of South Liberties, while this year’s side is skippered by Declan Hannon (Adare).
This year’s final has been brought forward to Sunday, August 19 to accommodate Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland later in the week.
by Mal Keaveney