As I write this piece on the Flaggy Shore in Clare looking out to Galway Bay, on a wonderful warm sunny day, I’m thinking what ideal hurling weather, like it used to be in my youth.
2018 has brought a new formula to the Munster Championship and we were all wondering would it work, this writer included.
And the answer to that question is a big YES.
It’s an exciting a Munster Championship as we have had in years, and fair play to the authority that thought it up - we give out about them at times, and rightly so, but we also praise them when deserved.
Mind you, they haven’t got everything right, and my biggest crib is having both games on the same day.
Maybe they will look into that for next year. Play one game on Saturday and the other on Sunday - give people a chance to see both games, as a lot of real hurling people would like that.
And now to the games - The big question this year in Munster is not who’s going to win the Munster Championship, but who are the three teams that are going to come out of Munster, and more importantly, who are the two teams losing out and on an early summer holiday?
Right now every team is in with a chance of staying in or going out. This weekend's games will tell a lot.
The one game I’m really looking forward to is Limerick and Cork. What a game this should be.
A Limerick team coming to Cork full of confidence after their great win against Tipperary the first day out. Was it that Limerick were very good that day, or, was it Tipperary were very bad?
My belief is that it was the latter, and Tipp continued that poor form against Cork last Sunday in Thurles in the first half, but they were a different team in the second half.
I feel that had they played like that against Limerick it would have been a different result. Nevertheless, that is not Limerick's fault - they can only beat what’s put in front of them.
Limerick now have momentum big time going to Cork and are after a rest. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, we will find out tomorrow night.
Limerick are a big strong physical team, even though they are very young - big men in their half-back line - Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon and Dan Morrissey - all good ball players, very good in the air - distributes good ball to their forwards.
Also Limerick have a big half-forward line in Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey - three big physical imposing players as well as two very mobile mid-fielders in Darragh O’Donovan and especially Cian Lynch, who I think is their most influential player, and now playing in his best position for Limerick.
I think Limerick, with Paul Kinnerk as coach, are now playing the same way as Clare have done in the past when he was involved with Clare, a possession game, short puck-outs and working it up the field, much like football.
It’s a good game to play until it breaks down.
I expect Limerick to play this way on Saturday night but I think they would be better off to vary their game, because I think they will have to, if they are to have any chance against this Cork team who are very adaptable to any game plan that the opposition throw at them - from Anthony Nash (who played a very important role last Sunday) out, this team can put it up to anyone.
Cork's backs seem more settled now with Sean O’Donoghue and Colm Spillane, two really pacey corner-backs - very strong in the tackle, with Damian Cahalane very good at hooking, blocking and stopping.
I think here the half-back line will still have to be more dominant and cut out the mistakes that they seem to make during games. They don’t make a lot of them, but when they do, they pay the price, like last Sunday against Tipperary. Surely they will learn from that.
When you have the pace and the skill that the Cork forwards have, then get that ball to them as fast as possible would be my thinking.
Another unsung hero for Cork is Danial Kearney. John Meyler is giving him a roving role from his half forward position, and he seems to be really enjoying it, working himself to a stand still every day, and coming in with a few scores as well.
But I think the two stand out forwards last Sunday were Seamus Harnedy and Shane Kingston. What power and pace Kingston has - a real confidence player - an early score vital for him.
Also Patrick Horgan got a few great scores the last day, but I believe there is more in him and Conor Lehane. The one thing that strikes me, for all their good forwards, they only got three points in the last 20 minutes of the game against Tipperary.
That will not be good enough on Saturday night.
From what I’ve seen of this Limerick team, they hit very hard and very often but I think there is a weakness and a lack of pace in their full-back line. It’s always serious when your last line of defence lack these qualities, and I expect the pacey Cork forwards to exploit that.
I believe this Cork team are better than Limerick. They have better hurlers. I also believed that Tipperary were better hurlers than Limerick, but we all know what happened there!
This Limerick team will not die easy, but I think that Cork's class should get them over the line.
The other Munster Championship match, Tipperary versus Waterford, you would have to say Tipperary will win this one, with the boost they got from the draw last Sunday.
The Waterford team look more like a hospital ward now with all their injuries, and at this early stage, bar a miracle, it looks like curtains for them. I don’t think even Lourdes could do it!
Another huge game Wexford versus Galway in Wexford park - two big physical teams with plenty of hurling on both sides.
Galway are favourites here, but Wexford will put up a big battle with a big Wexford support behind them. But Galway are champions and should win this, but it will not be easy.
Enjoy the hurling weekend and enjoy the weather, long may it last.