Limerick travel to Thurles this Sunday seeking a first Munste final victory since 2014, when they over came Waterford in a replay for the second consecutive year. This win was followed by losses in the 2015 and 16′ finals at the hands of this years opponents Tipperary. Tipperary would go onto defeat Limerick in that years All Ireland final also so retribution will be on the mind of these Limerick players.
This side will take confidence from the fact that John Kiely’s senior side is backboned by a a number of players who featured in the aforementioned finals. The current full back line of Sean Finn, Mike Casey and Richie English were all part of the 2013 success with the Doon man captain of the side.
Cian Lynch, who is already into his fourth season of inter-county hurling was also integral to both sides as was his current midfield partner Darragh O’Donovan, with Lynch captaining the side of 2014. Tom Morrissey and Aaron Gillane were also members of that side.
Even more recently, Seamus Flanagan and Peter Casey were on the 2015 side who were beaten by Tipp while Kyle Hayes was captain of the 2016 side that lost both provincial and All Ireland deciders to Tipp.
Limerick have defeated Tipperary already this year coming out on top by two points in the opening game of the Munster Championship. They followed this up with brilliant performance in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, putting their hosts to the sword. Waterford caught them napping the following week before a thrilling comeback in Ennis secured a Munster final berth.
This Limerick side is littered with gifted players who are not afraid to mix it also. However, their style relies predominately on their skill which is of the highest order.
Crecora’s Cathal O’Neill has been the teams standout performer with a number of superb individual performances, most notably in the opener against Tipperary where he was virtually unmarkable, nothing six glorious points from play.
Up front he has been ably assisted by Cormac Ryan who has popped up some crucial goals and Bob Purcell who was simply unstoppable in Ennis accounting for six points from play, each coming at a crucial time as Limerick fought back from a deficit.
Patrick Kirby, son of Limerick legend Gary, has been a breath of fresh air in midfield chipping in score after score each game. He has been ably assisted by Ballybrown man Barry O’Connor in midfield who has also had a stellar campaign.
The half-back line of Eoin O’Mahony, Emmet McEvoy and vice captain Jack Nicholas have excelled thus far and their performance as a defensive unit will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.
As for Tipperary, Sean Hayes is the danger man for Tipp and scored a brace against Limerick the first day out. Tipperary’s goal threat is no secret with the Premier county averaging just under three goals a game. If Limerick are able to keep them at bay, they should have too much firepower of their own to secure another Munster title.
Limerick by three.