Tony Considine: Hurling season will explode into life this weekend

A bumper two days of qualifiers and provincial finals will shape the the rest of the summer
Tony Considine: Hurling season will explode into life this weekend

Jason Forde of Tipperary is surrounded by Clare players in the Munster hurling semi-final. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

I’M LOOKING forward to another great weekend of hurling with both provincial finals on, Kilkenny and Dublin facing off in Leinster, and of course, Limerick and Tipperary in the Munster final.

But no matter what happens in these two games, all these teams will still be in the championship. But you cannot say the same about this Saturday’s qualifier games.

So you would have to say there is a lot more at stake in the qualifier games.

And speaking of the qualifier games, I think the GAA will have to take a closer look at how they come up with these draws, as I think Clare and Wexford have drawn the short straws here.

I think it is unfair on both counties as they have already won a championship game this year, and now they still have to go out and play a first-round qualifier. Even though Cork and Galway have not won any championship game, they are into the next round.

I think the system is wrong here, and very unfair, and there has to be a reward for a team that win a championship match.

These are two big games on Saturday. You would expect Waterford to win over Laois, but the Wexford-Clare game is a hard one to call.

Wexford’s Joe O’Connor celebrates scoring a goal against Kilkenny but will he be able to take down Clare? Picture: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy
Wexford’s Joe O’Connor celebrates scoring a goal against Kilkenny but will he be able to take down Clare? Picture: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy

Wexford have played in one of the games of the year against Kilkenny, and maybe should have won, losing out in extra time, but you could also say that Clare played very well against Tipperary, with a very silly refereeing decision. I won’t say it cost them the game, because we will never know that, but it definitely didn’t help them.

PUZZLING

It surely will be a motivating factor on Saturday. It could be a humdinger, but why in the name of God are they putting it on at 1.30pm? On Sky? Are the GAA calling the shots anymore? TV companies ruling the roost!

It’s time for the GAA to think of the ordinary supporter. Then again, they are not their priority.

The Munster final on Sunday. Can Limerick do three-in-a-row? It would be the first time since the 1930s, but I’m sure that is not what John Kiely is thinking about now.

More concern for him will be the performance that they had against Cork in the last game when Cork failed to take advantage of a poor showing by Limerick.

I asked early on in the year, will Limerick have the real hunger and appetite that they have had for the last couple of years?

That hunger was missing against Cork, and if it is missing here again, they could pay the price, because I’m sure Tipperary would be delighted take advantage.

Are Limerick timing their run to peak at the right time? I know from past experiences that can be a very difficult thing to get right, like doing too much, or more importantly, doing too little.

We will find out a lot on Sunday if they got it right. 

The form of some of their leading players has to be a concern, with Tom Morrissey, Seamus Flanagan, Gearoid Hegarty, and especially Aaron Gillane, all out of form the last day.

Limerick cannot afford all four being so below their standards again.

Only for players like Kyle Hayes, Cian Lynch, Nicky Quaid, and Diarmuid Byrnes, Limerick would probably not be in this Munster final.

Limerick's Kyle Hayes celebrates under a rainbow after beating Cork. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan
Limerick's Kyle Hayes celebrates under a rainbow after beating Cork. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

They will need a lot more than four players playing well on Sunday to have a chance against Tipperary.

Tipperary are waiting for this for a couple of years, as they have taken a lot of hidings from Limerick, especially in the Munster final two years ago — of course, after that, they went on to win the All-Ireland — but I do not think they want to go that route this year.

This is an ageing Tipperary team, the hearts, the heads, and hands are still very good, but as in all ageing players with a lot of mileage, the legs can be the problem or the lack of pace in them.

Still, the game against Clare will have brought this team on a lot, and if Limerick are any way loose or off-form, Tipperary will punish them, with players like Jason Forde, John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer, and Seamus Callinan. They won’t pass up scoring opportunities, so Limerick’s defence will have to be on their toes here.

Tipperary are the one team that Limerick do not fear, but I think they need to be a bit fearful this time, as a lot of Tipperary supporters would be saying: ‘Are Tipp going to stand up for themselves this time, or are they going to be bullied again by Limerick?’

Tipp need to bring a real cutting edge to their game to match Limerick. That is why I think the referee could be a busy man on Sunday.

Pride is at stake here for both counties and could make for a classic Munster final, and hopefully, it will.

Both teams have everything in their favour to produce a classic encounter in a fantastic stadium, and a beautiful playing surface — the only thing missing will be the big crowd, and that is a pity.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Cork would be buzzing on Sunday if that was allowed, but these are the times we are in.

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