LIMERICK will aim to secure a third National Hurling League title of manager John Kiely’s reign when Kilkenny provide final opposition at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday (throw-in 2pm).
The venue appears an odd choice for the competing counties, but a healthy attendance is expected to turn out on Leeside.
Limerick’s only previous League Final appearance in Cork was in 1980, losing a replayed contest to the home county.
Also, there haven’t been too many league showdowns between the Shanonsiders and the Cats to test either’s mettle.
In more recent times, Kilkenny beat Limerick in the 2006 final, while Limerick’s last victory in the decider (replay) over the Cats was achieved way back in 1947, when the winners were skippered by Jackie Power.
The Treaty County have 13 league titles to their credit, six behind Kilkenny, who (along with Tipperary) jointly head the roll of honour.
Limerick’s appetite for success in the league last year appeared lacking, but this time around the side is in fine fettle, especially evident against Clare, Galway, and Tipperary.
Along with some injury concerns, Kiely simply can’t find room for all of his All-Stars on the selection, which he will announce on Friday night.
Undroppable are Nickie Quaid, Seán Finn, Mike Casey, Barry Nash, Diarmaid Byrnes, Hannon, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey, Peter Casey, and Aaron Gillane. Others will be hoping to prove their worth on the starting blocks across a couple of training sessions at the Gaelic Grounds this week.
Towering midfielder William O’Donoghue has been ruled out through a one-match suspension after he was sanctioned midweek for an incident prior to throw-in in the semi-final against Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds.
In their semi-final, Derek Lyng’s Kilkenny were impressive winners over Cork at Nowlan Park. While Billy Drennan hit a sensational 1-12 a fortnight ago, others of note that afternoon were goalkeeper Eoin Murphy, Pádraig Walsh, Richie Hogan, Huw Lawlor, Martin Keoghan, Conor Fogarty, and Paddy Deegan.
Goals will be needed by Kilkenny to upset the odds. The outsiders have already banged home 13, so Quaid could be in for testing times.
Limerick, who have been made unbackable 2/7 favourites by BoyleSports, appear to have the measure of the Kilkenny men
Paud O’Dwyer of Carlow is the referee.