This Sunday sees the resumption of the National Hurling League with Limerick back in the top tier for the first time since 2010.
This will be Limerick’s first competitive national game since their All-Ireland exploits and will give John Kiely the perfect opportunity to blood new players with no relegation this year with a change in structure for the 2020 season.
Ahead of the highly anticipated game we look at some of the key talking points.
First game as All-Ireland Champions
For the first time since 1974, Limerick will come into a season as the reigning All-Ireland Champions. With such a young squad at his disposal it will be interesting to see how Kiely’s troops cope with the pressure of being the champions.
In recent years we have seen sides struggle the year after making it to the All-Ireland final. How Limerick react to the target on their back will be interesting as every team will look to lay down a statement against the standard bearers.
This team are used to winning at underage levels but the pressures of performing consistently at senior level are totally different
Revenge for 2017
In John Kiely’s first game in charge, Limerick travelled to Wexford Innovate Park to take on the Leinster side who were playing their first game under Davy Fitz.
Limerick will have looked at the game as the perfect chance to get their campaign off to a positive start and perhaps were looking forward to a final day clash with Galway as a promotion decider.
Limerick started brightly and had a six point advantage at the half before Wexford took control in the second half, keeping Limerick scoreless for 20 minutes, eventually running out three point winners.
This game effectively ended Limerick’s promotion hopes on the opening day.
It’s fitting that Limerick return to Wexford for their first game in Division 1A and there will be no doubt that they will have learned from the reversal in 2017.
It is interesting to note that Limerick really struggle against Davy Fitz managed sides. The aformentioned league game against Wexford is just one of a number of games where Limerick failed to perform against the Clare man.
Since his appointment as Waterford manager in 2008, Limerick
Limerick lost out to Waterford in the Munster championship in their meetings in 2009 and 2011.
The following year Fitzgerald was appointed Clare manager with his first encounter with Limerick coming in Croke Park in 2013 where Clare defeating the then Munster champions to secure an All-Ireland final place where they would go on to clinch Liam MacCarthy.
Chance for fringe players to impress
On their way to a historic All-Ireland triumph last August, Limerick were continously praised for the quality of the squad. Throughout the summer, the impact of the substitutes were key in Limerick’s quest for Liam MacCarthy.
This year, Limerick come into the League with a 42-man panel and little injury absences. Furthermore, the Na Piarsaigh contingent will have the chance to impress after missing the League last summer when they reached the Club All-Ireland Final.
For the likes of Peter Casey this is the perfect opportunity to stake his claim for a starting berth as he is named in the starting XV for the first time since 2017 for the Wexford clash