Hometown showdown arrives for Limerick

Gearoid Hegarty takes on David McInerney of Clare in last year’s Munster Final clash. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach.

IN A repeat of last year’s epic, All-Ireland and Munster kingpins Limerick bump into neighbours Clare in an eagerly anticipated Munster Senior Hurling Championship Final at a sold-out (44,000) Gaelic Grounds in just two hours’ time (throw-in 1.45pm).  

It’s the eighth occasion these great rivals will meet in a showdown, with the record books heavily tilted (6-1) in favour of Limerick, winners in 1918, 1955, 1974, 1981, 1994 and, of course, last year following extra-time in the Theatre of Dreams. 

Only in 1995, at Semple Stadium in Thurles, have Clare ever managed Munster Final success against Limerick.  

It’s the first final between the counties at the Ennis Road venue since Limerick stunned Clare way back in 1955.  

After inferior displays against Waterford, Tipperary, and Clare, Limerick improved immensely in their narrow escape against Cork, in potentially the match of Championship 2023. The victory, coupled with the earthquake result of Waterford simultaneously beating Tipperary, propelled John Kiely’s heroes into yet another Munster showdown.  

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Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon (captain), and Kyle Hayes – the Limerick half-back-line – were the launch pad of success a fortnight ago, while midfielders Darragh O’Donovan and William O’Donoghue won their area comfortable and in attack, Gearóid Hegarty, Tom Morissey, Aaron Gillane, and Séamus Flanagan all delivered eye-catching displays in the energy-sapping heat. 

A little further down the recovery path is Cian Lynch, the Patrickswell ace is likely to be near enough to the starting blocks, along with David Reidy and Cathal O’Neill. 

The final is on the eve of supreme shot-stopper Nickie Quaid’s 34th birthday. 

Clare have ruled out full-back Conor Cleary through injury, representing a huge loss to Brian Lohan’s side. Replacement options include Robin Mounsey, Paul Flanagan, and Rory Hayes.  

Elsewhere, John Conlon, David McInerney, David Fitzgerald, Peter Duggan, captain Tony Kelly, and Aidan McCarthy are all in fine fettle.  

Limerick are chasing title number 24 (having also lost on 27 final occassions), and the first completion of a five-in-a-row since Cork did so first between 1982-1986. 

Liam Gordon of Kilimor, Galway, will referee Sunday’s hometown showdown.