Win or bust as Limerick and Cork clash in Munster Championship final round

The last time the sides met in the championship at the TUS Gaelic Grounds was in 2019, and it was Cork who came away victorious. 

Limerick’s bid to win five Munster titles in a row will come to a halt should they fail to beat Cork this Sunday at 4pm when they meet in the final round of the championship at the TUS Gaelic Grounds.

The Rebels come into the game needing a victory themselves to keep their season alive and the stakes could not be higher.

The Leesiders are coming off the back of a one point loss to Clare in Ennis last week while Limerick were held to a draw in Thurles on the same afternoon. Limerick and Cork share identical records in this Munster campaign thus far, beating Waterford, drawing with Tipperary, and losing to Clare.

If Tipperary beat Waterford in Thurles on Sunday, it will be a straight shootout between John Kiely’s men and the Rebels for that third spot.

4 February 2023; Cian Lynch of Limerick is tackled by Conor O’Callaghan, left, and Ciarán Joyce of Cork during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A match between Cork and Limerick at Páirc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Should a draw play out at the Gaelic Grounds this weekend, and the Deise secure a win in Thurles, Limerick, Tipperary and Cork would all finish on four points. Due to an advantage on scoring difference, Tipperary would finish second if this were to happen, followed by Cork, then Limerick. 

However, Waterford are without a point in Munster this year, and Tipperary will be strong favourites for the game. In all likelihood, the meeting at the Gaelic Grounds is effectively a third-place playoff. 

The two sides faced off in February of this year in the first round of the Allianz League, with the Rebels snatching a one point win on a scoreline of 2-17 to 0-22. Shane Kingston got the winning score that day and the Douglas man will be involved in some capacity again this Sunday after making scoring cameos from the bench in each of the last two games.

Kiely is showing no signs of doubt ahead of the clash, saying he expects his side to continue improving on past performances.

“We will rest up now and get our pieces right during the week and try and be the best team that we can be. Hopefully improve yet again on our performance from this week to next week like we have been doing for the last number of games.”

Kiely reported no fresh injury concerns for his Treaty men coming into Sunday. Half forwards Cathal O’Neill and Tom Morrissey combined for nine points last time out, with Aaron Gillane raising six white flags, three coming from placed balls. It is a Limerick attack that is improving as of late, and it is supported by the substitute bench. Graeme Mulcahy and Peter Casey entered the field in the second half to make a significant impact for Kiely against Tipperary, and they could prove to be pivotal for Limerick again come Sunday.

“It was huge, they all contributed hugely. It was one of those days that it could have got away from us – it didn’t because of the resolve and the character that the group has.”

11 February 2023; Peter Casey of Limerick during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A match between Limerick and Clare at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

The Rebels will be rolling into the Ennis Road with their own attacking weapons this weekend. Patrick Horgan will be the man to stop, with the Glen Rovers sharpshooter putting up 1-25 across his last three games. Elsewhere Seamus Harnedy looks close to his best with the likes of Kingston, Shane Barrett and others to come in from the bench.

The fixture has been dominated by Limerick for the past decade, with the Treaty winning five of seven Championship meetings since 2013. The most notable of these clashes being the 2021 All-Ireland Final, where Cork were thumped on a scoreline of 3-32 to 1-22, as Limerick claimed back to back Liam McCarthy Cups. 

Yet, the last time the sides met in the championship at the TUS Gaelic Grounds was in 2019, and it was Cork who came away victorious. 

Limerick haven’t quite been themselves this year, and Pat Ryan’s men might feel they have a chance to get their first championship victory over the Shannonsiders since that very day.

But Cork will be wary of a backlash from the three in a row champions who need a result to survive into the summer.

It promises to be knockout hurling at its best.

Limerick face Cork in TUS Gaelic Grounds on Sunday May 28 in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship.

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