Preview

Limerick coming to Thurles for Game of Thrones

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarylive.ie

Win tickets to Limerick's Munster hurling championship clash with Tipp

Tipp and Limerick renewed rivalry this Sunday in Semple Stadium

An arm wrestle could well be on the cards here, a game of attritional hurling rather than a free flowing spectacle of sublime fare.

 

Limerick might be the defending All- Ireland hurling champions and their victory over Clare last Sunday might well suggest that they have regained their mojo, but Tipperary are still tipped to be on top of the pile by many of the celebrated pundits come All-Ireland final day.


The throne of favourites has been placed under the backsides of Liam Sheedy's men, but the throne of champions is still Limerick's to boast, and that makes for an extra intriguing battle at Semple Stadium on Sunday with a place in the Munster Final at stake, or depending on the outcome of this game and others, a place in the All-Ireland series at stake for Limerick.
Tipp are practically guaranteed a place in the provincial decider; Limerick are practically guaranteed a place in the All-Ireland series, but not necessarily the Munster final - the result of the Cork vs Clare game could have an impact.


It's unlikely though that either Liam Sheedy or John Kiely will be looking at the table and trying to work out the ramifications of results - they will have their eyes on just one outcome: victory.
Win your game and you don't have to worry about the surround noise.

Limerick Manager John Kiely
Tipp would love to make the provincial decider and go the direct route through to the All-Ireland series. The affection for the provincial silverware is still strong in Tipp. On the other hand Limerick would love to make the Munster final, win it and hold all three major hurling trophies in their cabinet - for a short while at least.


Sunday will see two of the form teams of the championship square off.
Tipp have been relentless in their pursuit of hurling perfection - ripping teams apart with sharp, snappy play, attacking excellence and defensive nous.


Meanwhile Limerick slipped up in their first game against Cork when they failed to get to the pace of the championship. But they have rocketed back into shape with wins over Waterford and Clare and will face the bus for Thurles on Sunday with confidence and expectations sky high. In fact, it's hard to actually remember a time when Limerick last came to Thurles really expecting to beat the hosts. For sure, they have come and beaten Tipp in Thurles in recent years, but they were probably not accompanied with the expectant tag in advance of those wins.


It's all changed now though. And, Sunday will see two teams hurling with high expectations, massive potential, hunger and desire and ravenous supporters shouting them on from the stands. It's going to be one hell of a battle.
Tipperary were the first team to defeat the All-Ireland champions after they had claimed the Liam MacCarthy Cup - it was a cold December evening at the Gaelic Grounds and the Munster League meant little enough. But, for Tipp, it meant something. And, for the Limerick supporters in attendance that evening it meant something too - they were not happy that their neighbours should come to town and sprinkle some Premier dust on their festive spirit. Both teams dismissed the result as being insignificant, but Tipp had laid down a marker. Limerick avenged that defeat when they won the league clash between the sides, again at the Gaelic Grounds, and laid down a marker of their own.


But, Sunday will be different. Limerick need to win to ensure a place in the provincial final - they could well be playing Tipp two weeks later again in that game and should that work out the final would be at the Gaelic Grounds thanks to the counties on-going home and away agreement.


Tipperary Manager Liam Sheedy

John Kiely would not want his charges to be facing into the All-Ireland series with as many defeats as victories so he will want success on Sunday. Liam Sheedy, by contrast can afford a defeat, but won't want it.
He relishes momentum and will be reiterating his messages of high work ethic, opportunism and stubborness in the face of the challenge which will materialise on Sunday.


This game will test Tipperary's mettle. Limerick have power and pace in abundance. They will savor the expanses of Semple Stadium, using the flanks and the space to try and impose their game on the opposition - if they get moving they are like a juggernaut and will be very difficult to contain.


Perhaps Tipperary's high concession rate from frees will be a worry in this regard - if a team is running at you, giving away frees is always a big risk. So, Tipp will have to ensure that Limerick cannot get into stride. And arm wrestle could well be on the cards here, a game of attritional hurling rather than a free flowing spectacle of sublime fare.


Limerick would be worried too at what Tipperary can do to teams in the blink of an eye. They will be aware of the many match winners in attack and of the influence of Padraic Maher at the heart of the defence - he once again lines up against his very influential cousin, Declan Hannon, wearing the same number in the green and white jersey.
John Kiely and Liam Sheedy are astute observers of the game and they have the requisite expertise in their respective backrooms to ensure that every angle of the opposition will be analysed, scrutinised and dissected.


So, where will they see possible gains for their teams? Who knows. But, one thing is certain, they will go for the jugular in this game. There will be no holding back, no fudging it. This game is there to be won - win it. That will be the attitude.
The star studded Tipp attack was able to wrangle latitude in the last three games and run up great scores - don't expect the same to be true on Sunday. Limerick will be out to shackle them and they have the players to do so - All-Stars in every line, big physical men who can cover ground and can hurl. This will be a big test of the Tipperary attacking division and they will have to be patient and opportunistic.


Limerick will bring great support to Thurles on Sunday - they always do. So, a bumper attendance is expected; a rip roaring contest is expected; and ultimately, a win is expected too, in both camps.
With so much at stake and with little enough to suggest any daylight between them, a draw could well be on the cards.