KILL or be killed time for the hurlers of Limerick and Cork this Sunday, as they face off at the Gaelic Grounds, with the award on offer being the coveted prize of championship survival.
Here we examine the key match-ups that will decide which county is likely to be dreaming of All-Ireland glory on Monday morning, and who is facing into a long and painful hurling winter.
Fireworks can be expected when these two bulls clash, and you can expect the two to seek each other out.
A card or two would not be a surprise here!
A feature of Cork’s play in the championship to date has been the manner in which their wing-forwards have been dropping extremely deep in order to ensure that the Rebels win the middle eight battle.
While this has been reasonably successful, it has also had the knock-on effect of allowing the opposition wing-backs have acres of time and space to pick off points from distance.
In the draw with Tipperary, right wing-back Séamus Kennedy rifled over two from long range, while last week Diarmuid Ryan scored four and David McInerney two from similar strikes.
With Diarmuid Byrnes recently becoming the all-time scoring defender in championship history, and with Kyle Hayes and Declan Hannon also well able to knock over points from range Dalton and co. must not give this trio as much room as they allowed their Tipp and Clare counterparts.
These two have had some great battles down the years, with O’Donoghue dominating Gillane in some contests, while in others Gillane has had the upper hand. They are likely to lock horns once more on Sunday.
Considering that this is a clash between Cork’s captain and Limerick’s talismanic marksman the boisterous Gaelic Grounds crowd will undoubtedly take special interest in who comes out on top of this battle.
Gillane has not been at the top of his form this season, with his free-taking in particular being wayward in the early rounds.
Should the Patrickswell attacker get his mojo back this Saturday then O’Donoghue will have to bring his A game.
Obviously, this is not a head-to-head battle, but whichever of the two goalkeepers wins the puck-out battle on Sunday can be confident that this huge championship fixture will not be their last for the year.
Only 0-6 of Cork’s 3-18 total in Ennis last Sunday were sourced from Collins’ puckout, which is a huge drop off from their opening win over Waterford where Cork won 23 out of their 28 puckouts, with a large portion of Cork’s 0-27 coming from these possession wins.
If Cork are going to defeat the reigning All-Ireland champions then they are going to have to do significantly better from their own restarts than they did against Clare, and especially so when you consider that Quaid’s quality restarts have been one of the main reasons for Limerick’s successes since 2018.