THERE will be some difficult selection choices for Limerick manager John Kiely ahead of his team announcement (Friday 9am) for Sunday’s must-win Munster Senior Hurling Championship encounter with Cork at the TUS Gaelic Grounds (throw-in 4pm).
With Tipperary fancied to account for lowly Waterford at Semple Stadium in Thurles (same start time), the reality is that Kiely’s men must win to secure the provincial third-placed spot and qualification into the All-Ireland series, where Joe McDonogh cup winners Offaly or Carlow wait in the wings.
Kiely withdrew two former Hurlers of the Year, Cian Lynch and Gearóid Hegarty, in the thrilling draw with Tipperary, namely, with both now in battles to secure starting berths for the visit of Pat Ryan’s finely-tuned outfit to a full Ennis Road venue.
“I think the impact of our lads coming off the bench was huge,” Kiely reflected after the tie with Tipp on Sunday.
“In the last 20 or 25 minutes, everyone that came on made an impact. They won ball, created scores, won frees. That’s what we’re looking for, so I’m delighted with that.
“A couple of lads will be disappointed with their performances, but that’s for them to rally around this week and come back and be better for it.”
Peter Casey and Conor Boylan replaced Lynch and Hegarty respectively, while another impact substitution was veteran Graeme Mulcahy, who knocked over a couple of tasty points. David Reidy was introduced in the closing stages for Cathal O’Neill, who made a huge contribution of five classy points.
O’Neill himself was a late starter for Casey.
All-Ireland winning Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy, speaking on The Sunday Game, expressed concern on Limerick’s current well-being.
“They’re definitely not at their best,” he said. “They haven’t showed what we’d expect from Limerick when it comes to championship.
“They were impressive in the league, but it looks as though there was a huge amount of shadow boxing going on there. Limerick did what they to do and won the league, and they looked to be finding flow, but they haven’t found flow at all in this championship. They’re struggling and making basic errors that you wouldn’t expect from this Limerick team.”
John Kiely and his fellow mentors Aonghus O’Brien, Paul Kinnerk, Donal O’Grady, and Alan Cunningham face some difficult choices.
James Owens (Wexford) will referee, and there is free-to-air television coverage on RTÉ, while Live 95 will provide radio commentary.