JOHN Kiely’s Limerick hurlers can ensure their progression to the All-Ireland series of the championship this Sunday as they welcome a lowly Tipperary side to the TUS Gaelic Grounds.
The defending All-Ireland champions have won both of their games thus far while Tipperary have been beaten on both occasions and need wins over Limerick and Cork to have any chance of progression.
Those wins over Cork and Waterford have Limerick at the top of the Munster championship, level on Clare who have been somewhat surprise packages of the season thus far.
Those sides meet on the final day where a win for Limerick would guarantee a Munster final spot regardless of the result this weekend.
For Limerick, since the three-point win over Waterford, there has been some disappointing news on the injury front as current and two-time hurler of the year Cian Lynch has been ruled out of the rest of the Munster championship.
Lynch pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury with just nine minutes of the Waterford game in the books with Limerick officials confirming the news in the meantime.
“On Saturday evening last Cian sustained a hamstring injury and will now undergo a period of rehabilitation under the supervision of our medical team. As a result, Cian will not have any further involvement in this year’s Munster Hurling Championship. No further comment will be made regarding Cian’s injury at this time. We wish Cian a very speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back playing again in the very near future.”
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Lynch’s withdrawal against Waterford meant Limerick were without four All-Stars from their forward unit with Kyle Hayes, Seamus Flanagan and Peter Casey also missing the game. But while Lynch joins Casey in the long-term injury list, there is hope that Hayes and Flanagan could return for Tipperary.
In the wake of the Waterford game, Kiely confirmed as much but insisted that no players would be rushed back.
“We’re not going to take any chances with fellas at this stage of the season. It’s a short season as it is, so you could take a chance and he could miss a very substantial and important part of the season. So for us it’s about ensuring that whoever togs out on the day is fit and healthy.”
And for Kiely and co, there is little need to be rushing players with a “significant impact” off the bench in both games thus far. Cathal O’Neill, who replaced Lynch a fortnight ago, has five points from the bench this year in the Munster championship while David Reidy and Pat Ryan have got on the scoresheet in both of their appearances.
The wins over Waterford and Cork have put early season worries to bed for Limerick but their opponents this weekend appear to be on the ropes after successive defeats to Waterford and Clare.
The Deise defeat was expected as Colm Bonnar’s men pushed Waterford all the way. However, the manner of the 3-21 to 2-16 loss to Clare was worrying for the premier faithful who will be knocked out of the championship with another loss on Sunday.
And their recent record against Limerick doesn’t bode well with the Shannonsiders picking up a third successive Munster title in their most recent outing, last summer. Tipp led by ten at the break but were met by a Limerick blitzkrieg in the second period as Kiely’s men ran out five point winners.
Limerick gained the upper hand in the 2020 Munster semi-final while they split their 2019 provincial contests. Tipp were four point victors in the round robin with Limerick gaining ample revenge in the Munster final a fortnight later winning out 2-26 to 2-14.
The Treaty men were also victorious when they met in the first round of the 2018 championship, the inaugural round robin contest.
And while the injuries have crept up, Limerick look as strong as ever with the writing on the wall for
the premier men.
Throw in this Sunday is 2pm in the TUS Gaelic Grounds as Limerick aim to deliver the final blow to Tipp and ink their name in the knockout stages as the search for four successive provincial and three All-Ireland titles powers on.
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