Plenty of talking points as footballers and hurlers earn provincial final dates

It was certainly a weekend to remember for Limerick sports fans.

On Saturday evening, Billy Lee’s footballers set the tone with John Kiely’s hurlers following suit the following day as both sealed Munster final places in the same year for the first time since 1934.

The Footballers proved too good for Tipp in a 2-10 to 0-10 win in Thurles while the hurlers eventful draw with Clare was enough to see both into the Munster final.

After a hectic weekend of action, below are some of the talking points to emerge from the games.

Double Munster Final beckons for Limerick

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Limerick will contest both Munster Senior Football and Hurling Championship finals for the first time in 88 years after both reached provincial deciders over the weekend.

The footballers are back in the final for the first time since 2010 while the hurlers are seeking a four-in-a-row of provincial titles.

All those years ago, the footballers were defeated by Kerry while the hurlers beat Waterford to retain their crown, their second successive title in the midst of their own four-in-a-row.

It is a huge turnaround to when the footballers were last in a Munster decider with the hurlers arguably at their lowest ever ebb that year following a strike, a season in which they lost each of their competitive games.

But within three years, the hurlers had claimed hurling honours with the footballers back in Division Four of the League for the 2013 season.

Now both sides are thriving as they seek a Limerick double for the first ever time.

Gearoid Hegarty the scapegoat (again)

When Gearoid Hegarty was sent off against Galway in the second round of the national hurling league in February, few could argue with the decision to give the St Pats man his marching orders. However, the narrative that followed was definitely unwarranted with many claiming it was long overdue.

Certainly an aggressive player, Hegarty gives his everything for the Limerick cause and is one of the key reasons the side have won three All-Ireland titles in four years as well as many Munster titles back-to-back. Yet, the idea he is a dirty player is unfair, as he gives as good as he gets in the physical game of hurling.

A two-time All-Star and 2020 Hurler of the Year, Hegarty is one of the best in the business but now his apparent ‘reputation’ precedes him as was the case on Sunday. Twice Hegarty was given yellows, with neither offence warranting a caution.

Earlier in the day, Austin Gleeson was given a similarly innocuous second yellow with both players victims of public perceptions.

Hopefully, this can be the last incident of its kind for the year with Hegarty playing a starring role prior to his dismissal with four of the best points you are likely to see.

Footballers show their class

While their 2019 victory over Tipperary was long overdue, the manner of the win was a surprise to many, given Tipp’s run to the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final and Limerick’s seven year drought of provincial championship wins.

The following year, Limerick were the unlucky ones as a late Conor Sweeney wonder score proved crucial en route to a Munster semi-final win after extra time.

That defeat came a couple of weeks following Limerick’s promotion to Division 3 for 2021. The Munster rivals met in the first round of that year’s League where the Shannonsiders earned some revenge with a day one victory as Tipp suffered relegation.

And while David Power’s men returned to the third tier earlier this year, Limerick continued their separation from the premier men as they too earned promotion, returning to Division Two for the first time since 2007.

Brian Donovan celebrates after scoring Limerick’s second goal in Sunday’s clash with Tipperary

In Thurles, the gap between the sides was on full show as Limerick highlighted their superiority on the field, especially in the second half.

Falling guilty of giving away too many frees in the first period, Limerick found their rhythm in the second half, keeping the hosts’ forwards scoreless from play while pulling away with a collection of fine scores.

Their reward is a Munster final against Kerry, arguably the best team in the country, but Limerick showed on Saturday that if belief is there, they can put it up to anyone.

Mouthwatering Munster Hurling Final awaits

With Limerick standing over a lineball as the time clicked past 73 minutes in Ennis, it’s fair to assume that both sides were happy to hear the final whistle that guaranteed a rematch in the Munster final after a titanic tussle.

Both sides tore into each other from the off with Tony Kelly and Diarmaid Byrnes showing otherworldly accuracy.

In the end, there was nothing to separate the rivals at 0-24 to 1-21 with the rematch set for neutral Thurles.

Clare’s Tony Kelly is tackled by Diarmaid Byrnes during Sunday’s game in Ennis.

Not since 1995, when Clare went on to end an 81-year wait for All-Ireland honours, have these teams met in the Munster decider.

And both will feel like they can get the upper hand.

Clare haven’t won the title since ’98 and will be hopeful on the return of Mark Rodgers and Aidan McCarthy to bolster their forward ranks.

Conversely, Limerick will be seeking a four in a row and could be buoyed by the re emergence of the likes of Cian Lynch, Aaron Gillane and Peter Casey.

Regardless, their 5 June meeting can’t come quick enough.

The post Double Munster Final, Harsh Red Card, Classy Football | Talking Points as Footballers and Hurlers earn provincial final dates appeared first on Sporting Limerick.