We have live score updates from todays All-Ireland hurling semi-final, its should be a great clash between the two Munster teams Limerick and Clare.
The second All-Ireland hurling semi-final will take place on Sunday as local rivals go toe to toe for a place in the All-Ireland final with Cork. Both sides will fancy their chances and hold no fear of each other. They are both young sides coming into the game with form and momentum on their sides. They faced each other three times in 2012 with Clare winning two outings, but Limerick winning the all important championship tie. It really is a tough one to call.
Everybody saw the scenes at the final whistle when Limerick won their first Munster title since 1996. There were joyous scenes at the final whistle and Limerick had won a title defeating the two traditional big teams in Munster; Tipperary and Cork. They played a very good brand of hurling and they will be full of confidence. The biggest question for me is the five week lay-off. It must be said thought that they also had a five week lay-off between the Munster semi-final and final which didn’t seem to have a huge impact but since then some Clare players have had two championship games, so they may be at a disadvantage.
The Limerick have played club games in between so there will be a freshness in returning to the intercounty scene. Clare on the other hand have huge momentum on their side. They have bounced back from defeat to Cork and this young team is growing with the more time they are spending on the pitch. The under-21 scene has also provided extra momentum for a number of their players so the confidence in these players is an all-time high. Both managers have named unchanged teams but the tactical battle will be intriguing.
Limerick’s defence have been very good so far. Each of their six defenders have excelled and it will be interesting what type of match-up’s they will go for with Clare’s forwards. Limerick have also faced orthodox forwards lines so far and it will be interesting to see what they will do with the roaming players like Tony Kelly and Padraic Collins. They had an extra man in defence for the second-half against Cork and they used it to almost perfection so it will be interesting to see if they take the same approach to a two-man full-forward that Clare will likely deploy.
Clare overused tactics against Cork but they have certainly learned from this. With Darach Honan and Conor McGrath, they have a dangerous inside line that need to be given service. They are very strong in the middle third, players like Colm Galvin and Tony Kelly provide pace and mobility, while John Conlon and Conor Ryan provide the physicality. They also have a good defence. It will be interesting to see if they double-up on Declan Hannon, like they did with Joe Canning against Galway. Either way I imagine that Cian Dillon will be Hannon’s direct opponent. David McInerney is in great form at the moment while the Clare half-back line is very strong.
This is such an even contest. The more I look at it, the more teams seem to cancel each other out. It’s a first game in Croke Park for the majority of these players so there is no real advantage to either side. A lot may depend on which side uses the wider spaces more efficiently. Will Clare be able to use their pace and mobility to stretch Limerick around the field, or will Limerick be able to dominate physically? It promises to be a cracking encounter and I think it will go right down to the final whistle. Limerick’s goals were the difference last year and maybe the team that scores the most goals may come out on top again here.
Limerick; Nicky Quaid, Stephen Walsh, Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon, Paudie O’Brien, Wayne McNamara, Gavin O’Mahony, Donal O’Grady, Paul Browne, David Breen, James Ryan, Seamus Hickey, Graeme Mulcahy, Declan Hannon, Seanie Tobin
Clare; Patrick Kelly, Domhnall O’Donovan, David McInerney, Cian Dillon; Brendan Bugler, Patrick Donnellan, Patrick O’Connor; Colm Galvin, Colin Ryan; John Conlon, Tony Kelly, Conor Ryan; Pádraic Collins, Darach Honan, Conor McGrath
Players to Watch
Cian Dillon – He is a very good defender who is having a very good season. He missed the start of the league but he has returned for the championship and played very well. I would predict that he will be given the job of trying to nullify Declan Hannon and if he can achieve this, I think Clare will have a great chance.
Gavin O’Mahony – He was outstanding when these sides faced each other in a qualifier in 2012 and Limerick will want a similar performance. He showed great leadership in that game and he inspired those around him. He is one of their experienced players and he will need to organise the middle third for Limerick in this game. He will have a big role to play.
The bookmakers have this priced very evenly and understandably so. There are a lot of alternative handicap prices available. It’s very tough to call but I fancy Clare. I think they have more momentum on their side. So get on Clare at 11/8 with Boylesports.com