Who is Limerick’s biggest challenger for 2024?

Cork, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford will all get their chance in the 2024 Munster championship, can any of them take it?

Another year, another All-Ireland for Limerick.

A four year unbeaten record was brought to an end but while Clare won the battle, Limerick were the last left standing in the Munster war.

A Tipperary stalemate allowed the Premier into the All-Ireland series but the Shannonsiders schooled their usurpers Galway a fortnight after their meeting.

Waterford came close, Cork even closer but in Croke Park, Kilkenny arguably felt the greatest wrath of a team chasing more history.

On this incredible journey of four in a row, all have tried, some have left a mark but no one has been able to land the telling blow. In truth, with the chips on the line, hardly any have got within reach of the champions.

23 July 2023; Diarmaid Byrnes of Limerick lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup after the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Starting with victory over Clare in a behind closed door Munster quarter, league final combo game in the depths of the Covid pandemic three years ago, Limerick have played a staggering 23 championship matches. The record in that time is one loss, two draws and twenty victories.

That pair of draws and the defeat both came in the round robin and couldn’t for little as Limerick lifted all available silverware in that time.

Limerick’s championship record since 2020

  • Clare (WDWLW)
  • Tipperary (WWWD)
  • Waterford (WWWWW)
  • Cork (WWWW)
  • Galway (WWW)
  • Kilkenny (WW)

The question on everyones lips following the Kilkenny dismissal is who will be the team to stop Limerick when it really matters, in a knockout game?

The answer is no clearer now than it has been at any stage during this incredible run.

In 2010 when Kilkenny entered the season looking to become the first team to win a five in a row, Tipperary were that side. Having narrowly lost the previous years final to the Cats, the Premier made no mistake the following September.

Fast forward fourteen years and the Cats limped out of Croker after a second bite at Limerick, further away from the juggernaut.

23 July 2023; Diarmaid Byrnes of Limerick in action against Tom Phelan of Kilkenny during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

The four in a row Leinster champions are still the best poised form the province to upset the champions but Sunday’s meeting will have done no good and plenty of harm to their psyche.

The other legitimate Leinster contenders Galway were swept aside in the semi-finals. Both Croke Park encounters were an indication of how the Treaty thrive in GAA HQ.

Plenty have suggested it, and the evidence points towards it also. If Limerick are to be caught, it looks like it will have to be in Munster.

Clare will look at themselves as the heir to the throne, the only team to beat Limerick in this incredible run, one of two teams to draw with them and the sole county to push John Kiely’s men to extra-time in a final since his appointment in 2017.

The Banner will also argue that they should have had a chance to level in this year’s Munster final but while those calls may be justified, the moment didn’t decide the outcome of the clash. Twice they have seen their chance to take on Limerick in Croke Park slip through their fingers, losing successive semi-finals to Kilkenny. They showed well to regroup this year but how will the latest setback affect Brian Lohan’s men? Can they got to the well again?

11 June 2023; Aaron Gillane of Limerick celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the Munster GAA Hurling Championship Final match between Clare and Limerick at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Tipperary were the other team to escape from the Munster championship but after sending out a statement against Offaly in the preliminary quarter final, they couldn’t muster a challenge for Galway in the next round, limping out in the Gaelic Grounds.

After a disastrous 2022, it was a huge step forward for the Premier men and the nature of their draw with Limerick in the round robin will stand to them. But the loss to Galway was as worrying as how easily Limerick dealt with the same challenge.

One team that pushed Limerick all the way but didn’t get a chance to take on Leinster opposition was Cork who fell just short in their do or die battle in the final round of the Munster championship. That was Limerick’s best performance up to that time in this year’s championship but the Rebels gave as good as they got.

They will be disheartened to have fallen out at that stage but will point to green shots in their set up as they claimed another U20 title with some of that crop destined for the senior set up as early as next year with a couple already involved. And for that reason, I would have Cork as Limerick’s closest challenger. They are currently in the midst of a longest ever All-Ireland drought (18 years) and Pat Ryan will be doing everything in his power to rectify that.

28 May 2023; Kyle Hayes of Limerick races clear of Luke Meade of Cork during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 5 match between Limerick and Cork at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Again it was a disappointing campaign for Waterford but the manner of their performance against Limerick and the win over Tipperary where they were already eliminated will be what Davy Fitz and co will focus on in the winter.

If someone is going to stop Limerick, they will have to come at the Shannonsiders with something new next year, that’s clear.

All the contenders have question marks hanging over them but one thing is for sure, Cork, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford will all get their chance in the 2024 Munster championship, can any of them take it?


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