JOHN KIELY’S Limerick hurlers travel to Páirc Uí Chaoimh to face Cork this weekend as they resume their National Hurling League campaign after the weather played foul to their clash with Waterford last weekend.
In a game that was originally fixed for last Saturday evening at the LIT Gaelic Grounds was postponed until the Sunday with the threat of Storm Denis. However, common sense prevailed and the game was postponed again on Sunday morning with the conditions meaning only half of the weekend’s fixtures went ahead.
As such there is some confusion as to what will happen regarding that fixture between Limerick and Waterford with no free weekends between now and the league final on March 22. Regardless, Limerick will be fully focused on Cork this weekend as they look to secure top spot in Group 1 and advance straight to the semi-finals of the competition.
Limerick have started their campaign in the same manner as they finished the 2019 league campaign with two successive wins over All-Ireland champions Tipperary in Thurles and a comprehensive win over Galway at the Ennis Road venue.
Kiely has embedded in a number of players to the starting team and will be disappointed to have missed out on the Waterford game with Brian Ryan and Darren O’Connell set to make their full debuts against the Déise.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what Kiely does with his squad for Sunday’s clash with the Fitzgibbon Cup now over and players returning from injury such as Kyle Hayes who was set to make his first appearance of the season against Waterford
Kiely will be desperate to get one over the Kieran Kingston managed Cork who have proved somewhat of a bogey side to the Treaty men in the past couple of seasons. Since John Kiely’s appointment as Limerick manager in late 2016, Limerick have faced Cork in the championship three times and a once in the league and have yet to pick up a win in normal time.
Kiely’s first encounter came in June 2018 where the sides played out an epic 0-28 to 1-25 draw in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in the Munster Championship. Later that summer, Limerick overcame Cork 3-32 to 2-31 in an All-Ireland semi-final classic with the Treaty men needing extra-time to see off the Rebels.
Cork would inflict Limerick’s only defeat of the National League in 2019 before repeating the trick in the first round of the Munster Championship a couple of months later with both those losses coming at the Ennis Road venue, the latter being Limerick’s first championship game as All-Ireland champions in almost a half-century.
As such, Kiely will be keen to get one over Cork in the Park this Sunday with Limerick favourites to retain their league crown and the Rebels stuttering in the early stages of the League. Kingston’s side opened their league campaign with a loss to Waterford but followed it up with a hard-fought victory over Tipperary in the Pairc.
They were one of a few sides to see action last weekend and made hard work of Westmeath, who have lost each of their games, with Cork eventually coming through with a 3-12 to 1-14 win in Mullingar, needing two Patrick Horgan penalties to secure the win.
However, like Limerick, Cork will be boosted by the return of the Fitzgibbon Cup contingent with a strong Cork presence in the victorious UCC side with the likes of Mark Coleman, Shane Kingston, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Robert Downey and Robbie O’Flynn all prominent.
Interestingly Limerick’s Paddy O’Loughlin captained the side and could well be in line for his first league appearance of the season alongside Conor Boylan who also starred for the side. Limerick take on Cork this Sunday in Pairc Ui Chaoimh this Sunday at 2pm. The game isn’t live on tv but TG4 will show deferred coverage around 5pm.
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