All Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy is in charge of the Munster hurling squad to Armagh on Sunday for a semi-final clash with Gregory O’Kane’s taking the reins for the Ulster side.
Sheedy was in charge of Munster last year when they were beaten at the same juncture by Leinster, so the former Tipperary boss will be keen to make amends given the province’s rich history in the competition.
With 44 titles, their last coming in 2007, Munster are the most successful province in the long history of the competition formerly known as the Railway Cup. With seven players, Sheedy’s native Tipperary are the county with the highest representation in the panel, while Cork and Limerick each provide six squad members.
Waterford (5) and Limerick (2) make up the 26-man selection. All told, Sheedy has a dazzling array of talent available to him, with Shane McGrath captaining the side.
O’Kane’s Ulster selection is dominated by Antrim players, with nine Saffrons named in the squad, while there are six Down and Derry men, as well as three from Armagh and two from Tyrone. Ulster were beaten heavily in their semi-final against Connacht last year, losing by 3-19 to 1-5 to a side made up entirely of Galway players.
Ulster have never won the competition since its inception in 1927. The last time the sides met was in the semi-final back in October 2008, when Munster recorded a 2-14 to 1-12 victory at Fermoy. Eoin Kelly from Waterford top-scored for Munster with 1-5, while Séamus Callanan chipped in with 1-2. Down’s Paul Braniff hit 0-8 for Ulster and Shane McNaughton, who will feature on Sunday, scored their goal.
Ulster team: Ryan McGarry; Michael Warnock, Arron Graffin, Michael Ennis; Neal McAuley, Liam Hinphey, Simon McRory; Barry McFall, Kevin Hinphey; Alan Grant, Ryan Gaffney, Paul Shiels; Shane McNaughton, Neil McManus, Cathal Carville.
Ulster Hurling Squad: Ryan McGarry, Arron Graffin, Neal McAuley, Simon McRory, Barry McFall, Paul Shiels, Shane McNaughton, Neil McManus, Karl Stewart (all Antrim), Michael Warnock Liam Hinphey, Kevin Hinphey, Alan Grant, Oisín McCloskey, Conor Quinn (all Derry), Michael Ennis, Stephen Keith, Ciaran Coulter, Michael Hughes, Eoin Clarke, Danny Toner (all Down), Ryan Gaffney, Cathal Carville, Nathan Curry (all Armagh), Stephen Donnelly and Martin Grogan (both Tyrone).
Munster Hurling team
Anthony Nash; Shane O’Neill, Tom Condon, Noel Connors; Brendan Bugler, Michael Walsh, Wayne McNamara; Paul Cronin,Shane McGrath; Shane Dowling, Pa Maher, Paudie O’Sullivan; Graeme Mulcahy, Brian O’Meara, Patrick Horgan.
Munster Hurling Squad: Brendan Cummins, Paul Curran, Brendan Maher, Shane McGrath, Patrick Maher, Brian O’Meara, Eoin Kelly (all Tipperary), Tom Condon, Donal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony, Wayne McNamara, Shane Dowling, Graeme Mulcahy (all Limerick), Anthony Nash, Shane O’Neill, Tom Kenny, Pa Cronin, Paudie O’Sullivan, Patrick Horgan (all Cork), Michael Walsh, Noel Connors, Shane Sullivan, Stephen Daniels, Páraic Mahony (all Waterford), Brendan Bugler, Colin Ryan (both Clare).