The stakes are high as Tipperary welcome Limerick to Thurles in a crucial Munster Championship contest

Limerick have won four successive Munster titles since hammering the Premier in the 2019 decider, also defeating Tipp in the 2021 final.

There won’t be an inch given either way this Sunday as Limerick and Tipperary meet in a titanic Munster Senior Hurling Championship clash in Thurles at 4pm.

With so much on the line, the encounter between the provincial rivals is shaping up to be one of the best in years as their iconic rivalry writes a new chapter.

For Tipperary, they will have the chance to arrest a dire recent record against the all-conquering Limerick side and book their place in the Munster final with a game to spare. Should Cork beat Clare in the day’s opening game, the Premier will also have the chance to eliminate the three in a row All-Ireland champions.

Limerick, after losing their 17-game unbeaten championship record last time out, are battling to ensure their survival in the competition, knowing a loss could end their season but also safe in the knowledge that back to back wins over the next week will guarantee a fifth successive Munster final place.

25 March 2023; Cathal O’Neill of Limerick in action against Conor Stakelum of Tipperary as Johnny Ryan of Tipperary looks on during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Semi-Final match between Limerick and Tipperary at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by John Sheridan/Sportsfile

Sunday will mark Limerick’s return after a three-week break following their defeat to Clare in the second round. It was a first loss since the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final but the Banner were full value for their win as Limerick struggled to find their rhythm. The following week, Tipperary and Cork maintained their unbeaten starts with an epic draw that put Limerick in a perilous situation as Clare overcame Waterford in a lopsided encounter.

Limerick sit on two points from as many contests, a point behind this Sunday’s opponents and Cork with each playing the same number of games. Clare are on four points from three games and will conclude their campaign agains the Rebels before the ball in thrown in at Semple Stadium.

If the Banner win and Tipp follow suit, they will meet in the Munster final while Limerick and Cork’s final round clash will be a straight shoot out for third place. A Cork and Tipp win will see Limerick eliminated while the Shannonsiders need a pair of wins to reach the provincial final.

Limerick have won four successive Munster titles since hammering the Premier in the 2019 decider, also defeating Tipp in the 2021 final with wins over Waterford (2020) and Clare last year.

5 June 2022; Limerick captain Declan Hannon lifts the Mick Mackey cup after the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Limerick and Clare at FBD Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

John Kiely has named his side for Sunday’s meeting with a return to the starting XV for Gearoid Hegarty as he replaces Cathal O’Neill at wing forward. Mike Casey comes in at corner back for the injured Sean Finn who will miss the remainder of the championship.

Liam Cahill has made a number of changes to his Tipp side that drew with Cork with Mark Kehoe, Rhys Shelly, Patrick Bonner Maher and Eoghan Connolly coming into the starting XV.

This is the second meeting for the sides this year with Limerick coming through their League semi-final with relative comfort. Tipperary led by four at the interval in the TUS Gaelic Grounds but were overpowered by the hosts in the second period with Limerick running out 1-28 to 0-25 victors. John Kiely’s men went on to claim League honours against Kilkenny but have been far from their best in the championship, just edging Waterford before losing to Clare.

Still, their recent record over the Premier county will make for pleasant pre-match reading with their most recent loss to Tipperary coming in the 2019 round robin stage which proved to be a dead rubber as Limerick avenged the loss a fortnight later in the Munster final.

Since then, Limerick have been victorious in each of the subsequent championship seasons with a combined +33 point difference in those four most recent encounters.

18 July 2021; Kyle Hayes of Limerick celebrates scoring his side’s second goal , in the 54th minute, as John O’Dwyer, 12, and Cathal Barrett of Tipperary look on, during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Limerick and Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

However, the gap between the sides seems to be as close as it was in the 2019 championship when Tipp were favoured for the Munster decider. Limerick will hoping for a similar response to the setback that time around while Tipperary will know they have a huge opportunity to alter the landscaper of the 2023 championship and really signify their All-Ireland ambitions.

The stakes are high and the countdown is well and truly on for what promises to be another exceptional Munster championship clash in a year that keeps on giving.

Limerick face Tipperary in FBD Semple Stadium on Sunday May 21 in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship.

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