PREVIEW | Limerick continue Munster U20 Hurling C’Ship defence against neighbours Clare

Diarmuid Mullins has made just one change to his side to take on Clare with Monaleen midfielder Joseph Fitzgerald coming into the XV.

Limerick welcome Clare in the second round of the Munster U20 Hurling Championship this Wednesday in the TUS Gaelic Grounds at 7pm.

The hosts are the defending champions and kicked off the defence of their title with a 1-18 to 1-14 defeat of Waterford on Saturday afternoon in Dungarvan. Clare began with a 0-20 apiece draw with Tipperary on the same day in Cusack Park.

It will be a first meeting of the sides since their dramatic first round meeting in the competition 12 months ago where Limerick snatched victory at the death. Trailing by a goal, Cathal O’Neill fired a quickfire 1-1 to send his side on his way. The Treaty would go on to reach the All-Ireland final but were beaten by a solitary point by Kilkenny.

Seven of that side started in the round one win over Waterford in captain Ethan Hurley, vice Paddy O’Donovan, Evan O’Leary, Cian Scully, Adam English, John Kirby and Shane O’Brien.

Following Wednesday’s clash, O’Brien and English will switch their attention to the National League final with the seniors on April 8/9. Clare are littered with players from Brian Lohan’s senior squad with no fewer than six featuring in the NHL this Spring, Patrick Crotty, Adam Hogan, Keith Smyth, Oran Cahill, John Conneally, and Oisín O’Donnell.

11 February 2023; Shane O’Brien of Limerick in action against Adam Hogan of Clare during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A match between Limerick and Clare at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

O’Leary and O’Brien will be well acquainted with Clare duo Niall O’Farrell and David Kenney who all featured for Ardscoil Rís in the 2022 Croke Cup final win over St Kierans.

Diarmuid Mullins has made just one change to his side to take on Clare with Monaleen’s All-Ireland-winning midfielder Joseph Fitzgerald coming into the team to partner English in the middle of the park. Barry Duff drops to the bench while it remains the same elsewhere.

For English and Hurley, it is a ninth appearance at the grade and third against the Banner. They have tasted defeat just twice, the 2021 Munster final and in last year’s All-Ireland but each have a pair of wins under their belt against the Banner. English hit the net in the 13-point Munster semi-final victory two years ago whilst both started in last year’s meeting that ended 3-7 to 0-15 in Limerick’s favour following O’Neill’s late exploits.

Clare have to go all the way back to 2014 (2-20 to 1-14) to find their most recent win over Limerick at the U21 grade after suffering defeats in 2015, ’17, ’18, ’21 and ’22.

19 July 2021; Cathal O’Neill of Limerick during the Munster GAA Hurling U20 Championship semi-final match between Limerick and Clare at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Limerick will be keen to make it six successive Munster championship victories on Wednesday which will put them in good stead heading into a three-week lay-off before they meet Tipperary in Thurles on April 21. The team atop the standings at the end of the round robin will qualify directly for the Munster final with second and third meeting in the semis.

But that remains a while off for both as Limerick look to continue their dominance over the Banner at the grade this Wednesday.

The game is live on TG4’s YouTube channel.

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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