Limerick are more than capable of beating Tipperary
Gunning for their third consecutive championship victory over Tipperary, Limerick enter this weekends game as underdogs. This is despite the fact that the Treaty men are looking to play in their third Munster Hurling Championship final in as many years. Indeed Tipperary have to travel to Gaelic Grounds not having beaten Limerick since 2012 and under Eamon O’Shea, have yet to win a provincial championship game. Recent history would therefore suggest that the Premier county could face a difficult challenge.
In building a case for Limerick, you don’t have to look much further than their defeat to Kilkenny in last year’s All Ireland semi final. On the day, Limerick displayed exceptional skill in torrential conditions and could count themselves unlucky. Although Limerick’s league campaign was ultimately torpedoed by a defeat to Offaly, their results also included a draw against the competitions winners and Munster finalists Waterford.
The fact that they were competing in the weaker Division 1B, should be negated somewhat by the fact that they have already contested a championship game this year. In contrast, Tipperary’s last competitive fixture was their league semi final defeat to Waterford on April 19. They have also added Cian Lynch to their attack, who, at 19 years of age plays without fear. The subtle skills he displayed against Clare lit up the game. David Breen has also returned from injury and is available for selection, adding to their attacking options. An area Limerick will need to improve on, if they are to prevail.
Limerick will also be boosted by the fact that, Tipp’s Noel McGrath is injured and John O’Dwyer is a major doubt for this weekends clash. It also remains to be seen what condition Lar Corbett is in following his return to the panel in April. The loss of those three forwards will certainly affect the way in which Tipperary like to rotate their forwards in order to create space. This would have been a major issue for Limerick, judging by the manner in which they were susceptible to Clare’s pacey forwards. Shane O’Donnell in particular caused Ritchie McCarthy huge problems.
Therefore in order to win, Seamus Callanan will need to be contained. Tipp are likely to play him on the edge of the square but if Limerick close down the space around him, Eamon O’Shea will probably move him to centre forward, where he can be equally as effective. Consequently, the Limerick management will have to be proactive in adapting their strategy as the game evolves. This is something that Waterford managed to achieve in their victory over the Premier county in the league semi final.
There is greater pressure on Tipperary to win on Sunday. Having contested last years All Ireland Final, there exists an expectation in the county that Tipperary can return to the top table. Conversely, defeat would send them back into the qualifiers for another year and reduce O’Shea’s legacy to being the Tipperary manager who never won a Munster Championship game.
Although many commentators are tipping the Premier men to win, Limerick have the capabilities to overturn their neighbours and qualify for yet another Munster Final.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena