John Kiely has named an unchanged side to the team that beat Cork in the last round of the Munster championship.
It promises to be a special day on Sunday when Limerick clash with Clare in the 2023 Munster Senior Hurling Championship final in the TUS Gaelic Grounds.
It is a repeat of the 2022 decider when Limerick overcame a stubborn Clare outfit after extra-time to claim a fourth successive title. The Shannonsiders went on to claim a third All-Ireland championship on the trot two months later while Clare were eliminated ta the semi-final stage.
John Kiely has named an unchanged side to the team that beat Cork in the last round of the Munster championship, while Brian Lohan’s men line out as expected.
Most importantly for Kiely, there are no new injury concerns, and he has been able to hold continuity in his lineup. Cian Lynch may have been expected to start, but the Patrickswell man is set to be on the bench, with youngster Cathal O’Neill named at 11.
Limerick will have to watch out for the opposing centre-forward, with Tony Kelly in outstanding form as usual, scoring 2-22 so far this year. The Ballyea man starts and captains Brian Lohan’s side, who got the better of Limerick in the Round Robin game in April, and that result will definitely give the Banner some hope going into this final.
That defeat was Limerick’s first since 2019 with Clare becoming the first team to inflict three championship defeats on John Kiely, adding to the triumphs in 2017 and ’18.
Diarmaid Byrnes and Diarmuid Ryan start at half-back for their respective counties, the pair were nominated for the PwC/GPA Hurler of the Month award for May, with Ryan pipping the Limerick man to the award.
Seamus Flanagan has been named at full-forward for the Shannonsiders, he scored two goals against the Banner back in April, and Lohan will no doubt be wary of his threat. Flanagan is flanked by the Treaty’s top scorer in Aaron Gillane, as well as Peter Casey, who scored 0-5 in the 2021 Munster final.
Kiely and his Limerick team will have to keep their eye on a number of Clare forwards, Peter Duggan, Shane O’Donnell and Aidan McCarthy all start and are capable of winning a game on their own. Duggan found the net in the round robin game, with McCarthy in inspired form thus far this season. O’Donnell was an All-Star in ’22.
It is the first time the teams have met since Clare pipped Limerick to victory by a point on the Ennis Road in April, ending the Treaty’s 17 game championship unbeaten streak. Clare were fully deserving of the win at this weekend’s venue although a late flurry from Limerick, including a Seamus Flanagan goal did bring them within one late on.
Kiely’s Limerick side are going for five Munster titles in a row, while the Banner are just looking for their first since 1998. The stakes are high for both sides, for different reasons, Lohan’s side won’t want it to tick over a quarter of a century without a Munster title, while Limerick will be keen to reassert their dominance following the defeat in April.
The loser will also have to contend with an All-Ireland quarter-final with Limerick winning the Liam MacCarthy the direct route in each of the last three seasons.
Tickets sold out within minutes of release for the clash, with supporters of both counties expected to flood to Limerick at the weekend, on what promises to be a very special Munster final day.
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