Opinion: Are bookies justified in having Limerick as 2020 favourites?

Although Tipperary will enter the new year as All-Ireland Senior Hurling Champions, most bookmakers have installed Limerick as early favourites to capture the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2020.

After exiting this year’s championship at the semi-finals, do Limerick really deserve to be favourites to recapture the All-Ireland?

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park, Dublin 27/7/2019 Limerick vs Kilkenny Limerick’s Cian Lynch dejected after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Paddy Power have Tipp as favourites (3/1) with Limerick (7/2), Galway (9/2) and Kilkenny (11/2) closely behind.

However, both Bet365 (7/2) and Boylesports (11/4) have Limerick as the favourites.

While Limerick would ultimately fail in their quest to regain the Liam MacCarthy Cup many still label Limerick as the best team in the country, even in the aftermath of Tipp’s win.

The general consensus following the final was that Limerick and Tipp would have made for a dream match in the final with the two meeting twice already in the championship, winning once each.

Liam Sheedy’s side had a resurgence in 2019, winning the All-Ireland, just a year after failing to make it out of Munster.

But are they the best team in Ireland or are Limerick rightly being labelled as favourites?

Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 30/6/2019 Tipperary vs Limerick Tipperary’s Barry Heffernan and Seamus Flanagan of Limerick Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Tipperary defeated Limerick in Thurles in the round-robin series of Munster.

However, on that day, Limerick had one of their worst performances under Kiely and also started without key men, Declan Hannon, Cian Lynch, Geaorid Hegarty and Graeme Mulcahy.

The sides met a fortnight later in the Munster Final in the Gaelic Grounds with Limerick comprehensively winning by 12-points.

As a result they would avoid each other in the All-Ireland semi-finals where Limerick would lose out to Kilkenny while Tipperary would overcome Wexford.

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 18/8/2019 Kilkenny vs Tipperary Tipperary’s Séamus Callanan kisses the Liam MacCarthy cup Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Should Brian Cody stay on as Kilkenny manager, one couldn’t rule out the Cats with some unfinished business after the manner of their All-Ireland defeat.

2017 Champions Galway will also be gearing for a long run in the championship after talisman Joe Canning was restricted to 20 minutes in the championship this summer. Who they replace Micheál O’Donoghue with will be key in how far they go.

Wexford will be looking to build on a first Leinster final win in 15 years while Cork will also have regrets over how their championship journey this year.

Dublin made great strides in 2019 under Mattie Kenny who has committed to another year while both Clare and Waterford are due a positive season.

However, with four months of 2019 left, Limerick and Tipperary look like the teams to beat in 2020.

Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Round 5, Semple Stadium, Co. Tipperary 16/6/2019 Tipperary vs Limerick Tipperary’s Sean O’Brien tackles Limerick’s Tom Morrissey Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

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