O’Donoghue and Tynan, Watching Noel McGrath & Marking Gillane | 3 Key Battles as Limerick and Tipp face off

A battle worthy of the entrance fee alone, Will O’Donoghue and Alan Tynan are likely to renew acquaintances this Sunday in Thurles.

The match ups are mouthwatering this Sunday as Tipp and Limerick do battle in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship. Limerick have been dominant in the fixture in recent years but Tipp will sense blood following the Shannonsiders second round defeat, their first loss since 2019.

Just a point separates them in the table but a slip up could prove detrimental with Cork and Clare also vying for a top three spot in the ultra competitive Munster championship.

Each team is glistening with All-Stars and the individual battles will be the key to success for both camps. Ahead of the contest, we look at some of the most exciting pairings.

William O’Donoghue vs Alan Tynan

A battle worthy of the entrance fee alone, Will O’Donoghue and Alan Tynan renew acquaintances this Sunday in the Munster Championship and if their clash in the TUS Gaelic Grounds is anything to go off, there should be fireworks again.

The two went toe to toe in the league semi-final where Limerick eventually pulled away from a spirited Tipperary outfit on the Ennis Road. O’Donoghue was subsequently given a one-match ban for an altercation at the throw in and expect the tension to be as high this time around.

“The throw in will be interesting! Sean Stack will have to get the ball in quick and not waste any time!”

paul carroll on Treaty Talk

Their seemed to be little malice in O’Donoghue’s actions but the height of his hurley certainly warranted the suspension. However, that one-match ban came in the wake of the contest with the pair duelling throughout the game. Tynan, like Tipp, started like a train and clipped over four points as they took a 0-16 to 0-12 lead into the break.

But led by O’Donoghue, Limerick roared back into the life and the Na Piarsaigh man even got on the scoresheet as the Shannonsiders dominated the second half, eventually winning out 1-28 to 0-25.

In the same game, O’Donoghue was forced off deep into injury time following a heavy hit on his back, Tynan the guilty party on that occasion. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the meantime, Tynan making his championship debut and earning man of the match last time out while O’Donoghue has seen a 17-game win streak come to an end.

Yet neither will forget the Gaelic Grounds clash with the tone to be set at the throw in by both this Sunday.

Watching Noel McGrath

Tynan’s rise to prominence has allowed for Noel McGrath to revert to his role of 2019 where he was arguably the best player int he country as Tipp claimed a second All-Ireland title in four years. The Loughmore Castleiney man was conductor in chief from the middle of the park akin to Cian Lynch for Limerick. Will O’Donoghue gave one of his best displays in a Limerick jersey agains the Tipp native in 2020, completely nullifying his threat and was ini similar form the following year in the Munster final. However, he will have his hands full with Tynan that will allow McGrath to drift.

Darragh O’Donovan, as O’Donoghue’s midfield partner will be the obvious choice to track McGrath but that would take away from the Door man’s game as he so often is central to Limerick’s build up play. Also the presence of Dan McCormack in the middle third could see Limerick need to pack that area. One of the wing forwards could be assigned with keeping tabs on McGrath when in defence to allow Declan Hannon in to the pocket. And while Limerick kept a clean sheet agains the Premier in the Munster clash last year, McGrath showed just how dangerous he can be out the field with 0-13.

Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 30/6/2019 Tipperary vs Limerick Limerick’s Cian Lynch with Ronan Maher and Noel McGrath of Tipperary Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

For Limerick, it will be key to get on the front foot early to get McGrath occupied in defence as he thrives on front foot hurling as was seen in the draw with Cork. O’Donoghue could always switch onto the opposite midfielder but Tynan is another dangerous exponent in the middle of the field.

Yet, O’Donoghue and O’Donovan aren’t All-Stars for no reason and will be keen to lay down a marker.

Picking up Aaron Gillane

Tipp’s openness at the back will need to be addressed for Sunday as they take on one of the best forwards in the game in the form of Aaron Gillane. The three-time All-Star hasn’t been at his best this far this year but has often saved his best for the Premier county who have already shipped seven goals in just a pair of championship games.

The Patrickswell man was well marshalled in the 2019 Munster final with Brendan Maher limiting him to just one score from play. But Gillane was the man to tee up Peter Casey for their first goal with Tipp well on top. There was no stopping him in the Munster semi the following year where he hit 2-6 in an awesome display. After finding himself on the bench for the first half of the 2021 final, Gillane made a huge impact on his introduction, firing over a pair of points to go with four frees and setting up their opening goal. Last year he was arguably at the peak of his powers with two identical goals, fetching over the defence before slotting into the net.

8 May 2022; Aaron Gillane of Limerick celebrates his eight minute goal during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 3 match between Limerick and Tipperary at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Cathal Barrett and Seamus Kennedy swapped marking duties last time out but neither were able to fully get to grips with Gillane while Ronan Maher in 2020 did little better. Maher is the only man to really curb Gillane but he is no longer part of the Tipp rearguard and they will need to find someone capable of dealing with the powerful forward. Michael Breen has been solid at full back and could be an option but he will likely be tied up with Seamus Flanagan.

Were he pushed onto Gillane, he would need all his athleticism to counter Gillane’s immense skill levels. Still if the Patrickswell man finds his rhythm, he is nigh on unstoppable.

For Kiely and co, Sunday would be the ideal time to rediscover that form.

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