Limerick set up a Munster semi final tie with Tipperary after a scintillating second half display saw them overcome Clare 0-36 to 1-23 in Semple Stadium.
Limerick struggled to pull away from a determined Clare side in the first half but outscored the Banner 0-21 to 1-8 in the second half to move into the last four.
They will now meet Tipperary in the semi final in a repeat of last years decider.
Take a look below at the main talking points to emerge from Semple Stadium with an eye on Sunday coming.
Tony Kelly was awarded man of the match in the wake of yesterday’s result and nobody would begrudge the Ballyea man after scoring 0-17 of his sides total of 1-23. Kelly’s performance however was not enough as Limerick had ten-points to spare despite his best efforts.
In the green of Limerick one man stood head and shoulders above the rest and that was St Patricks’ Gearoid Hegarty. The wing-forward clipped over five points from play and covered every blade of grass in what is becoming an almost typical performance. In Limerick’s last competitive game against Waterford at the start of March, Hegarty was named man of the match in a display that saw him grab 1-5 from play.
His blend of athleticism and skill make him one of John Kiely’s most important cogs in the Limerick machine. Alongside Tom Morrissey and Kyle Hayes, the trio are Limerick’s most vital line and all three were quick to re-establish themselves to the nation on Sunday as Morrissey chipped in with 0-4 while Hayes added 0-3.
Hegarty is probably the most underrated players in the country but there are few in Limerick that dispute his value to the Limerick cause and he proved why yesterday. It will be interesting to see who Tipp will assign to pick him up next weekend after he scored 0-3 in last year’s final.
Limerick were superior to Clare in every aspect in Thurles despite taking their time to put the game to bed. However, there are areas for improvement for Kiely and his men. One such aspect that will not be pleasing to the Galbally man was the concession of frees as Tony Kelly clipped over nine placed balls and missed a couple more. Limerick cannot afford to give Jason Forde or Seamus Callanan those easy chances next Sunday.
Aaron Gillane did convert as many placed balls but this will count for little consolation and Kiely will look to the 2019 final where Limerick only conceded four points from frees.
Vulnerable Full Back line
Some of that indiscipline will have arisen from the unfamiliar full-back line in the absence of Richie English and Mike Casey. Dan Morrissey reverted to full back in Casey’s place while Barry Nash plugged the gap in the corner. Admittedly, neither had much to do against Clare but if selected there again on Sunday, it will be a much different story with the array of attacking riches at Liam Sheedy’s disposal.
At times, there seemed to be some panic in the Limerick rearguard, most notably when Ryan Taylor stole in for the games only goal.
Otherwise, the new trio did perform admirably and the contest will stand to them ahead of the Premier clash. However, it promises to be an area that Tipp will target form the outset.
The introduction of Jerome Boylan for his debut late on could hint towards a possible change.
Benefit of having a game
Regardless of how the contest finished, Limerick will travel to Pairc Ui Chaoimh with a game under their belt. The benefit of playing regularly has been evident in recent years with and notably so in Limerick’s defeat to Kilkenny in last year’s semi final with the Cats having come through the quarters.
Tipperary will have played challenge games in the lead up to the semi-final but will hit a whole new intensity when the game is thrown in at 4pm on Sunday. They will need to hit the ground running or could find themselves in a similar position that Limerick were in in Croke Park last August.
On the otherside of the coin, the Limerick contingent will only have a seven-day turnaround from what was a fairly physical game. But ask any of the players which position would they rather be and most will argue in favour of having a game.
How Limerick use this to their advantage? Only time will tell.
Limerick play Tipperary in the 2020 Munster hurling championship semi-final this Sunday in Pairc Ui Chaoimh at 4pm.