The Shannonsiders will be looking for revenge, having lost to their final opponents already earlier this year at this Sunday’s venue.
Limerick lock horns with Clare in the final of the Munster Senior Hurling Championship at the TUS Gaelic Grounds on Sunday, and the Shannonsiders will be looking for revenge, having lost to their final opponents already earlier this year at the same venue.
Just over a month ago, Clare need Limerick’s lengthy unbeaten run on the Ennis Road with a 1-24 to 2-20 win in the second round of the championship.
Ahead of this weekend’s rematch in the decider, Limerick manager John Kiely has conceded that Clare deserved their win on the day, saying his players were “outworked” by the Banner.
“Losing to Clare in the round robin was very disappointing for us, it was the blemish in our record in the round robin, they were the better team on the night, they outworked on us the night, they were far more accurate than us on the day. They deserved the result in that game but we have learned a lot from it.”
Limerick’s physicality will be highlighted going into the game, with it evidently clear that they were outworked by Clare the last time they met, but Kiely’s side have shown that they are still more than capable of putting in the hard work, beating Cork in a thriller in the sweltering heat.
Despite winning three of their four round robin games, it is a Clare side that have shown they can ship goals, and Limerick will be hoping to exploit the leaky Banner defence, who have been hit for ten goals across three games.
This is definitely an avenue Limerick will hope to explore, having scored two goals themselves against the Banner already and three last time out against Cork. Limerick’s ability to create chances has been visible this year but so too has their inaccuracy in front of goal and Kiely acknowledged that his side have been less potent in front of goal this year.
“We’ve had this issue every year. Every team goes through phases where their accuracy levels drop a little bit. It only takes maybe four or five shots to close that gap. More importantly for us is the fact that we are creating significant numbers of scoring chances. We have to keep working on creating those chances and every night at training we are practicing our accuracy.
“Teams are pressing higher, half-backlines are pressing higher, midfielders are pressing higher. In a technical sense, that won’t work all the time. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, that just means we have had to do it a different way.”
Somewhat surprisingly, the game will be played at Limerick’s home venue following their titanic clash in Thurles at the same stage last year. The decision for the venue on the game was delayed last week with the TUS Gaelic Grounds the agreed stadium.
Speaking on the decision, the Gaelic Grounds was arranged at the request of the Clare management team with Kiely outlining how that decision was agreed.
“It was a case of, they wanted to play in Thurles, Munster Council wanted it in Cork, we were happy to go along with that, then the offer was made by the Clare management team to play it in Gaelic Grounds, between the two county boards they ironed out an agreement that satisfied both parties. Everybody is happy and looking forward to it. Your home ground is your home ground, no matter what. We’re very proud of our record here, very proud to play here, it means a lot to us, we love training here, we love spending time here, and we’re certainly going to look forward to playing a Munster final here.”
But while it will be a home tie for Limerick, Clare did beat the reigning All-Ireland and Munster champions in the same venue in April and will hold no fear crossing the border this weekend in what is expected to be a full house.
Yet, Limerick come into the game with the knowledge that history favours them, the Shannonsiders have won six of the seven Munster finals contested between the pair throughout history, as well as three of the last five championship encounters.
Clare would not have been expecting to come up against Limerick in the final, but Kiely’s side proved their critics wrong, and earned the chance to win yet another Munster title. It promises to be a thrilling clash when the two sides meet at the TUS Gaelic Grounds at 1:45pm on Sunday.
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