Sarah O'Dwyer on why Munster hurling is so special

Sports fans are gearing up for a Super Sunday which will conclude with either Limerick or Cork knocked out
Sarah O'Dwyer on why Munster hurling is so special

Cork's Ciarán Joyce and Declan Hannon of Limerick battling last season. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

IT MIGHT be the most exciting final round of games in Munster since the new format was introduced.

This weekend three teams — Cork, Limerick and Tipperary — are vying for two spots to get out of Munster.

Clare’s Tony Kelly with Ger Mellerick of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy
Clare’s Tony Kelly with Ger Mellerick of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

One team will join Clare in the Munster senior hurling final, one will progress to the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final, and the third will face the same fate as Waterford: a summer holiday.

On paper, the more straightforward of the two games next weekend is Tipperary versus Waterford.

The Déise have been knocked out and Tipperary have impressed this year, going in as an unknown entity initially, They were also the only team to beat Clare.

They sit in second place, on four points, as the only unbeaten team in Munster so far.

But, this could be a potential banana skin for Liam Cahill’s side, if any complacency creeps in, which seems unlikely. Waterford are dangerous when they have nothing to lose, and they will still want a win in the Munster championship, even if they can’t progress.

But, given the permutations and everything that needs to happen on Sunday, Tipp are likely to progress out of Munster.

The other clash, between Limerick and Cork, is more difficult to call.


Neither team has been firing on all cylinders, both have three points on the table, and both are due a whopper performance to put any question marks to bed. Which team will get that performance remains to be seen.

Limerick are no worse off than Cork going into this weekend, but given the standard they’ve set for themselves over the last few years, what they’ve shown this year has been poor form.

Limerick are expected to be physical, accurate and assured; things that have been lacking at times in this year’s Munster championship.

Winning the league, though it’s an entirely different beast, looked to have teed them up nicely for a cut at their fifth Munster title in a row.

However, so far they have drawn with Tipp, beaten Waterford, and lost to Clare. That’s not the Limerick from the last few years.

They are missing a key player in Sean Finn at the back. He shores up their defence, and leaves a gaping hole when he’s not there. Though looking at the calibre of talent in Limerick, that shouldn’t be the case.

Against Tipp last Sunday, players who rarely make mistakes were doing so. Nickie Quaide dropped a ball that was sent in high to the square, so that he had to lie on the ball and that resulted in a free being given away.

Diarmuid Byrnes missed a couple of long-range frees that would have been well within his comfort zone. Those are just a couple of examples of what is not expected from Limerick.

However, they are known to pull it out of the bag when push comes to shove, so Cork need to be at 100% next week when the sides meet.

Much of the interest and focus this year has been on the Munster championship. Leinster have been tipping away, too, but with less fanfare. The games aren’t as close, and the outcomes are generally more predictable.


At least that was the case until Westmeath pulled off the result of the weekend out of nowhere. They were 17 points down against Wexford, only for the Yellow-Bellies to completely capitulate and fade into oblivion.

They haven’t looked convincing all season, but a complete hiding by Westmeath in the second half last Sunday highlighted glaring issues in the Wexford camp. Whether it’s mentally or physically, there is something not right with the team this year.

It’s an indictment of Wexford hurling, and they are one of three teams in Leinster who could find themselves dropping down to the Joe McDonagh next year.

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