Analysing Limerick’s potential semi final opponents

After coming through the back door last year en-route to winning the All-Ireland Championship, Limerick will this year have to wait to find out their opponents in the last four of the 2019 version of the competition.

Their potential opponents meet next weekend in Croke Park as part of a double header with Laois facing Tipperary and Cork taking on Kilkenny.

With Tipperary highly fancied to beat a Laois side that shocked Dublin in the preliminary quarter finals last weekend, Limerick will face either Cork or Kilkenny in Croke Park on July 27.

Allianz Hurling League Division 1A Relegation Play-Off, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny 16/3/2019 Kilkenny vs Cork Kilkenny’s Michael Cody and Shane Kingston of Cork Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Limerick beat both last year on the way to clinching the Liam MacCarthy, overcoming Kilkenny in the quarterfinals in Thurles before defeating Cork after extra time in Croke Park a fortnight later.

Winning the Munster Championship against Tipperary saw Limerick progress straight through to the semi finals, giving John Kiely and his charges four weeks to prepare for any potential opponent.

Having already defeated Limerick in the championship this summer, Cork will be confident in their chances if they are paired with Limerick once more. In the LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick were overwhelmed by Cork all over the field as they brought an added intensity to their game.

The return to fitness of Alan Cadogan is key for the Rebels who have the forwards to trouble any defence, including Limerick’s as they have shown.

Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy and Cadogan would be starters on any team in the country and all need close watching with each a potential game winner.

Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Round 5, Cusack Park, Ennis, Co. Clare 16/6/2019 Clare vs Cork Cork’s Alan Cadogan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

On the flipside, Cork’s defence has proven to be porous over the years as they have been physically overwhelmed in the past.

Eoin Cadogan’s Man of the Match performance against Aaron Gillane in round one of the Minster Championship looked like solving a huge crisis for the Rebels, but subsequent performances have quenched such talk.

However, in four games over the past 18 months, Limerick are yet to beat Cork in normal time, losing twice, drawing once and needing extra time in Croker last July.

As for Kilkenny, the Limerick victory over the Cats last year brought to an end a 45-year wait since their previous win over the Leinster side.

Brian Cody’s men are not the force they were at the outset of the century when they won eight All-Ireland titles in 10 years under Cody.

Yet, Kilkenny still have a number of players with All-Ireland winning experience down the spine of their team in Eoin Murphy, Padraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley, TJ Reid and Walter Walsh.

Leinster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 30/6/2019 Kilkenny vs Wexford Kilkenny’s TJ Reid Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The calibre of these players ensure Kilkenny are never too far from a result and each is aware of what it takes to win at GAA HQ.

However, their supplementing players are not at the level of Kiely’s men and if Kilkenny progress to meet Limerick, they will come into that game as underdogs.

Regardless of how the quarter finals pan out, Limerick are the strongest team left in the championship.

Nothing will be easy, but if they perform, Limerick should have too much for any potential opponent.

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