Munster hurling counties are on a roll, even without Cork in the mix

Munster hurling counties are on a roll, even without Cork in the mix

Tony Kelly of Clare on his way to scoring his goal against Wexford. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

FOUR out of five from Munster is very good going and from a Cork perspective, it’s just a pity that they are not among them in the hunt for the All-Ireland title.

That’s very much the story in the very competitive race for the MacCarthy Cup.

Of course, things will have to change later tomorrow when Waterford face Clare at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, one of the four Munster teams still standing will be eliminated from the race. 

But if Tipperary overcome Galway in the Gaelic Grounds it will guarantee the province three teams in the last four and the very real prospect of an all Munster All-Ireland final, the first since 2013 when Clare defeated Cork after a replay.

The only other all Munster final pairing was in 1997 when Clare were again successful, defeating Tipperary in the final. So, if Clare got into the All-Ireland final against another Munster team, they’d be going for three-in-a-row.

The odds of them doing that are extremely long but when you come to the business end of any campaign you would be slow to rule nothing in or rule nothing out.

For the next few weeks now, Cork will be mere onlookers as the battle intensifies and thinking what might have been.

Regrets, yes there will be quite a few but the show goes on without them and so does the ever-lengthening wait for another All-Ireland. This time, however, the wait to get back on the horse will not be as long as in past years with the national league just a few short months away.

But all the focus now is on the remaining six contenders, six that will be reduced to four by tonight.

Waterford and Clare come together in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in a slightly contrasting mood.

Kieran Bennett of Waterford in action against Cian Lynch. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Kieran Bennett of Waterford in action against Cian Lynch. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Clare will be in a very positive frame of mind after their victory over Wexford last weekend while Waterford will have a bit more picking up to do after losing to Limerick.

However, at the same time, the manner with which they went after Limerick and stayed on their coattails throughout will have lessened the pain.

And they will be fancied in most quarters to come through against Clare and find themselves in an All-Ireland semi-final.

For a county that couldn’t buy a championship win in recent years, that would represent a considerable gain.

The reasoning behind going for a Waterford victory today is based very much on the fact that Clare are seen to be a side far too dependent on Tony Kelly to get their scores.

In Clare’s three games against Limerick, Laois and Wexford he has amassed 1-45 and if he didn’t puck a ball again this year he has to be an automatic All-Star.

How Waterford will try to counteract his influence in Páirc Uí Chaoimh today is going to be fascinating and that may well be the key to the outcome Tipperary, as we know, are masters at reinventing themselves after a bad loss and they did it again last weekend against Cork.

They were trounced by Limerick in the Munster final but wasn’t that the case too last season and they subsequently won the All-Ireland. There’s a long road still ahead of them if they are going to retain it, starting with Galway today.

Basically, they may have to win three All-Ireland finals in the next few weeks if the old cup is to reside in the county for another year.

And history has shown that Tipperary teams are not very good at retaining the McCarthy Cup and have not done so since the middle ‘60s.

Galway will be kicking themselves at losing a five-point lead against Kilkenny in the Leinster final even if the brace of Kilkenny goals that were delivered by Richie Hogan and TJ Reid were as good as you will get.

Tommy Walsh and Conor Fogarty of Kilkenny combine to stop a goal-bound shot from Galway's Joe Canning. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Tommy Walsh and Conor Fogarty of Kilkenny combine to stop a goal-bound shot from Galway's Joe Canning. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

This latest installment in the story of Tipperary and Galway clashes of recent times has a fascinating appeal to it.

And it’s certain to be a belter of a match. Tipp’s confidence will be restored fully after seeing off Cork while Galway’s levels might not be as high.

For the four counties in action today, it’s a six-day turnaround for all four and at the best of times that’s a big ask.

And it’s even bigger now as the winter deepens. Whoever copes best with that quick turnaround will succeed and find themselves in the last four.

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