Home advantage counting for little in this year’s Munster Championship as Limerick and Clare ready for Gaelic Grounds meeting

Of all the games played across April and May in this year’s Munster championship, the home side have only won on three occasions.

Much has been made of the scheduling of the Munster final in the TUS Gaelic Grounds this Sunday, but the truth is, home advantage has proved irrelevant in this year’s Munster championship, with away sides finding success more often than not.

Of all the games played across April and May in this year’s Munster championship, the home team has only won on three occasions. Limerick have played at home twice this year, recording one win and one loss, beating Cork in a thriller when the pressure was on, albeit the win came in a knockout encounter. Interestingly, the loss came to Sunday’s opponents, Clare, who have won both of their games played outside of Ennis this year.

It brings about a large mental game between the sides this weekend, as John Kiely has confirmed that it was the request of the Clare management team to play the game in Limerick. The Munster Council wanted it in Cork, and Limerick were happy to go along with it, but now they find themselves in a position where they play at home.

For Brian Lohan’s men, the venue eases some of the pressure on them whilst piling it on the five in a row chasing Limerick.

“It was a case of, they wanted to play in Thurles, Munster Council wanted it in Cork, we were happy to go along with that, then the offer was made by the Clare management team to play it in Gaelic Grounds, between the two county boards they ironed out an agreement that satisfied both parties. Everybody is happy and looking forward to it.”

John Kiely
23 April 2023; Declan Hannon of Limerick leaves the pitch in a first half substitution during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 1 match between Waterford and Limerick at FBD Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The TUS Gaelic Grounds has proven to be a fantastic venue for Munster finals in recent years, with Limerick winning the championship there as recently as 2019. With John Kiely amongst John Allen’s management team in 2013, Limerick ended a lengthy wait for Munster honours in the venue while Tipperary claimed a pair of titles in 2008 and ’16.

Those four contests are the only times that the showpiece event has been held on the Ennis Road since the turn of the millennium, and that perhaps makes it more perplexing that Limerick was chosen to host the final. Pairc Ui Chaoimh and Semple Stadium have hosted 19 finals in the same time frame, and Thurles would have seemed the logical destination for Sunday’s decider.

Clare will have no problem heading into enemy territory for the final, as they have won there already this year, but despite the added pressure, Kiely is thrilled to get the chance to play at home.

“All of the Munster final that have been played here, Cork in 2013 as well was an incredible day. Any Munster final you play on your home pitch is a fantastic honour and privilege and one that we’re looking forward to very much. Your home ground is your home ground, no matter what. We’re very proud of our record here, very proud to play here, it means a lot to us, we love training here, we love spending time here, and we’re certainly going to look forward to playing a Munster final here.”

14 July 2013; Limerick supporters wait at the edge of the pitch shortly before full time as the final score is displayed on the scoreboard. Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final, Limerick v Cork, Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

We have seen the success away sides have had throughout this championship, most notably Waterford claiming a win in Thurles against a Tipperary outfit who would have been very confident of securing their place in the final. The same Tipperary team managed to fire 5-22 away to Clare in the opening round, with the Banner turning it around in Limerick with a win a week later, proving the unpredictability of this year’s championship, especially regarding so called home advantage.

On paper, you may say Limerick are the favourites, and if they play to their potential, they probably will win on Sunday. But we can’t underestimate the magic of this Munster championship, the supposed power the away side has shown thus far, and the added pressure Limerick now face playing in their own back yard.

Add all this on top of the fact Clare have beaten Limerick on the Ennis Road already this year, and are playing for their first Munster title in 25 years, and you get a mouth-watering clash that really could go either way this Sunday.

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