High-flying Limerick set to present Tipperary with a stern league semi-final test

Brian McDonnell

Reporter:

Brian McDonnell

Email:

bmcdonnell@tipperarystar.ie

High-flying Limerick set to present Tipperary with a stern league semi-final test

Semple Stadium will host the league semi-final between Tipperary and Limerick on Saturday.

Tipperary host John Kiely's high-flying Limerick team in the semi-finals of the Allianz National Hurling League on Saturday, March 31st at Semple Stadium, Thurles (throw-in 7pm). And, please be mindful of the fact that the Croke Cup final (All-Ireland under-18.5A colleges hurling championship) between Presentation College, Athenry and St Kieran's, Kilkenny will also take place at the venue on Saturday (throw-in 5pm).

Limerick are sure to present Michael Ryan's men with a stern test on Saturday -if required extra-time will be played and the winner will be determined on the day.

Limerick have been promoted from division 1B this season thanks to five consecutive victories over Laois (1-25 to 0-18), Offaly (1-24 to 0-10), Dublin (1-26 to 0-17), Antrim (3-21 to 0-13) and Galway (2-18 to 1-19).

Then on Monday, March 19th at Páirc na nGael in Limerick the Shannonsiders drew with Clare (4-21 to 0-33) after extra-time before John Kiely’s impressive side beat Clare on a sudden death free-taking shoot-out following one hundred minutes of ferocious action. Please also note that Limerick were eight points down against Galway before recovering to beat the All-Ireland champions by two in Salthill. Indeed, under the careful coaching of Paul Kinnerk the Shannonsiders are in terrific form.

Although the Na Piarsaigh contingent are not yet available to manager John Kiely the Limerick half-back line of Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon and Dan Morrissey have been key to their performances thus far. Cian Lynch is an outstanding playmaker in the middle third of the field, Gearóid Hegarty is the key ball winner at half-forward and Aaron Gillane is shooting the lights out.

Tipperary and Limerick will, of course, also meet in the opening round of the revamped Munster Senior Hurling Championship on Sunday, May 20th (2pm) at Páirc na nGael in Limerick.

The respective league semi-final between Wexford and Kilkenny will take place on Sunday, April 1st at Innovate Wexford Park (2pm). It is understood that the Allianz National Hurling League final is scheduled for April 8th.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Meanwhile on Saturday, March 31st the Tipperary footballers will complete their Allianz National Football League division two campaign away to Down at Páirc Esler in Newry (3pm) - the contest must take place since Down are fighting to avoid relegation.

Liam Kearns' footballers narrowly missed out on promotion to division one of the Allianz National Football League when suffering a defeat at the hands of Cavan (2-10 to 0-17) on Sunday.

Despite this defeat the progress of Tipperary deserves to be celebrated. It is simply extraordinary to note that the Premier County was operating in division four as recently as 2014.

In 2009 Tipperary were promoted from division three before being relegated from division two the following season. In 2011 the Premier County (sixth) narrowly avoided relegation to division four and dropped into the bottom division in 2012.

The recovery started with a third place division four finish in 2013 before Tipperary finished top in 2014 and duly earned promotion. In 2015 the blue and gold finished third in division three and then sixth in 2016. Tipperary were promoted to division two in 2017.

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