We look at five of the main talking points from Saturday’s hurling action.
Saturday was an eventful day of hurling as three games were shown live on TV. We take a look at five of the key talking points from the day’s hurling action.
1. Tony Kelly majestic for Clare against Dublin.
Tony Kelly is one of the best players in the country and he scored 20 points for Clare in their five-point win over Dublin.
Clare trailed at half-time, although Brian Lohan’s moved up the gears in the second half and pushed on for their second successive victory.
Colm Galvin has recently returned to the Clare fold and the Munster side started a very strong team yesterday.
Lohan’s charges have probably been too reliant on Kelly in the recent past. However, if Clare can get some of their stronger players working around the Ballyea sharpshooter, they will be very hard to overcome.
The 2013 All-Ireland champions never really lived up to their huge potential but Kelly certainly has and he’s arguably Clare’s greatest-ever hurler.
2. Limerick win their first game of the year.
Limerick picked up their first victory of the 2021 season with an eight-point win over Cork. It was the Rebel county’s first defeat of the new campaign.
The All-Ireland champions failed to perform in their opening three league encounters though John Kiely’s side were very impressive on this occasion.
Cork could not cope with Limerick’s first-half intensity and Kieran Kingston’s side trailed by ten points at the interval.
Limerick won all 13 of their competitive games in 2020 and they are almost certain to claim victory against Westmeath next weekend.
Both sides will meet again in the Munster championship semi-final so Limerick will be thrilled to have laid down a marker ahead of that clash.
3. Darren Gleeson doing a superb job with Antrim.
The job that Darren Gleeson has done with Antrim has been nothing short of miraculous. The Tipperary native took over ahead of the 2020 season and won a league and championship title in his debut campaign.
Antrim drew with Wexford on Saturday and could have won the match. The Ulster side defeated Clare in round one and look certain to avoid relegation.
Since the tiered competitions came into play in hurling, what’s been noticeable is that no county has emerged from the lower divisions to become a serious force at the top level.
Antrim have a strong hurling tradition, a thriving club scene and a growing population. The challenge for Gleeson now is to maintain Antrim’s status as a top-tier county in league and championship.
4. Great to see fans return to sporting action.
Corrigan Park was bouncing yesterday and the atmosphere was electric in the West Belfast venue. Antrim hurlers really benefitted from the vocal home support.
This was one of the best hurling games so far in 2021 and the crowd presence was certainly a major factor.
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald was sent to the stands in the first half and the home crowd did not seem to have too much sympathy for him!
Hurling is a sport that thrives off the energy of the crowd and Antrim used it to their advantage yesterday.
The sight of spectators will be welcomed by sports fans worldwide and supporters will be allowed to attend matches in the Republic of Ireland from June 7.
5. Dublin’s dismal record against the top teams continues.
Dublin hurlers have struggled to make a breakthrough in recent seasons in contrast to their football counterparts.
The last big victory Dublin had was against Galway in the 2019 Leinster Championship though Mattie Kenny’s side lost to Laois in the following game.
Since that result, Dublin have played seven matches against the traditional top eight sides and have lost all of them.
They’ve won one of their last 11 games against the top eight teams suffering defeats against Limerick, Wexford, Kilkenny, Cork and Clare in that period.
Dublin will have a chance to buck that trend away to Wexford next weekend however the 2013 Leinster champions will be outsiders against Davy Fitzgerald’s side.