Limerick and Galway renew acquaintances with final spot on offer | All-Ireland Semi-Final Preview

It hasn’t been straightforward for the champions, but nonetheless, they still hold the aces heading to Croke Park on Saturday.

The countodown to the first of 2023’s All-Ireland semi-finals is well and truly on as Limerick and Galway meet for the third time in four years at the same stage. Limerick have edged the past two contests and adding in the 2018 All-Ireland final to the mix, it hasn’t been a happy fixture for Galway in recent years.

However, having put on a defiant display in last year’s fixture, the Tribesmen will be hoping to give the Shannonsiders a run for their money again this Saturday in a bid to stop a four in a row.

Despite their place in the final four as Munster champions, Limerick have failed to hit the heights of previous years and while they may still be the best team left in the championship, they have shown glimpses of weakness.

The absence of Declan Hannon is a huge blow for Limerick who have opted for Kyle Hayes in his place. Gearoid Hegarty shifts to wing back, a place he occupied for Kiely in the 2015 U21 All-Ireland winning campaign.

26 February 2023; Kyle Hayes of Limerick in action against Cianan Fahy of Galway during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A match between Galway and Limerick at Pearse Stadium in Galway. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

They will also be without Sean Finn who suffered a season ending ACL injury against Clare in the second round and that leaves the question of who will pick up Galway star Conor Whelan who has plundered 7-15 this year.

It has been an up and down campaign for the three in a row All-Ireland champions who started the year like a train in winning the League title for the third time in five years.

However, they stalled in Munster, firstly struggling against Waterford before Clare ended their 17-game unbeaten run in the championship. A draw against Tipperary could have went either way but with the chips down, Limerick just pipped Cork for a crucial one-point win to keep their season alive.

In the Munster final, they needed all their experience to secure a one-point victory and fifth successive provincial success.

Still, it hasn’t been straightforward for the champions, but nonetheless, they still hold the aces heading to Croke Park on Saturday.

11 June 2023; Aaron Gillane of Limerick celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the Munster GAA Hurling Championship Final match between Clare and Limerick at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Likewise, Galway haven’t been at their best in the championship thus far in 2022. To no ones surprise, they reached the Leinster final but were dramatically pipped at the deeath by Kilkenny, despite leading by a pair in injury time.

In their quarters-fnal in the Gaelic Grounds, they did little to encourage their traveling support of an upset in the semi-final as they barely got past a lacklustre Tipperary outfit. But for Shefflin and co, the manner of the victory will matter little as they showed a grit and determination that will be needed in GAA HQ.

And there is no doubting that could stand to them with Limerick coming into the game cold fowling a four week break to the Munster final. True, Limerick will have been glad of the layoff but Galway’s two week run in could be the perfect tonic.

And the performances of 2020 and last year at the semi-final stage will fuel Galway with the necessary hope that they can dethrone the Shannonsiders.

If they are to do so, they will need to prevent Limerick hitting that 0-27 mark or better it themselves. Against Tipp they showed a defensive solidity but suffered up front. If they can find the balance they will push Limerick all the way.

However, it could all be in vain if Limerick regain the rhythm of the last three years as more history draws closer.

GAA coverage on Sporting Limerick is brought to you in association with Noels Menswear, shop online here or visit in Dooradoyle, Limerick City or Newcastle West.

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