PREVIEW | Limerick seek Munster final berth as Cusack Park awaits

Cusack Park will host Limerick for the third time this year as the sides meet in the Munster championship.

Limerick travel to Cusack Park this Sunday needing a result to ensure their place in the Munster final as they face the Banner in their fourth provincial game of the year.

John Kiely’s side have won three successive titles and have been perfect in the provincial championship thus far with wins over Cork, Waterford and most recently Tipperary.

Limerick put one foot into the Munster final while also guaranteeing their progression to the All-Ireland series with the 3-21 to 0-23 win over Tipp at the TUS Gaelic Grounds last weekend.

The visitors held the lead until the 63rd minute before the Limerick onslaught ensured victory with Aaron Gillane and Conor Boylan hitting the net in the final five minutes of normal time.

It was a game where Limerick struggled to get into their rhythm as John Kiely alluded to in the wake of the hard fought victory.

“It lacked the intensity that we would associate with our play it was just a smidge enough. Credit has to be given to Tipperary they brought a huge amount of aggression and intensity to the game in the first 45 minutes. They were sharper, they were crisper today and the bottom line is we struggled with them at times.”

8 May 2022; Aaron Gillane of Limerick is tackled by Seamus Kennedy of Tipperary 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

Three victories from three could prove enough for a Munster final spot for Limerick regardless of their result with Clare this weekend as a win for the Banner over the Deise in the final round of games enough to see Limerick into a fourth successive decider.

Nonetheless, John Kiely is looking to get the job done prior to that as a result in Cusack Park on Sunday will book their spot in the June 5th decider.

The Galbally native is aware that improvement is needed for that to happen but was pleased with his sides patience.

“My immediate thoughts are we struggled for long periods of the game to get into a rhythm and I think the boys to be fair you know knew that themselves. They kept battling away kept the heads, they didn’t panic.

“We’re going to have to improve for next weekend, that performance today won’t do next next week as simple as that and you know it only barely did today to be honest”

This weekend’s opponents, Clare, are the only other Munster side with a 100% record following their impressive wins over Cork and Tipperary.

They can also secure progression to the All-Ireland series with a win over Limerick after failing to escape the round robin stage in its previous iteration in 2019.

9 June 2019; Seán Finn of Limerick and John Conlon of Clare during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 4 match between Limerick and Clare at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

The Banner also have Waterford in the final game where a win will be enough to go through regardless of what happens this weekend.

Nonetheless, Clare will be gunning for the reigning All-Ireland champions who have won their previous two championship clahses.

However, in Limerick’s last championship trip to Cusack Park, the home side were imperious in victory, sealing a 0-26 to 0-15 win over the eventual All-Ireland champions.

Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Round 5, Cusack Park, Ennis, Co. Clare 17/6/2018 Clare vs Limerick Clare’s David McInerney and Seamus Flanagan of Limerick Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

And John Kiely is under no illusion of what awaits his side this Sunday.

“I’ve never gone to Ennis with a free heart, sadly there’s always a very warm welcome awaiting us in Ennis and I have no doubt it’ll be no different next weekend. They’re always great battles, there’s a great rivalry between the two counties. Ultimately you know we’re focusing in on the performance of the team and the team will be very conscious of that.”

Limerick will be favoured but there is the possibility of Kiely shuffling the pack with the replacements certainly putting their hand up for selection in each game thus far.

But the beating of 2018 will still linger in the minds of some as Limerick seek to maintain their perfect championship record and book that fabled Munster final spot.

Throw in at Cusack Park is 4pm with the game live on RTÉ.

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