Limerick host Waterford on Sunday in the first semi-final of the Munster Hurling Championship. Waterford are reigning Munster champions and are aiming for their third consecutive provincial final. Limerick, meanwhile, have not played in a Munster final since 2007 when they lost to Waterford.
Limerick boast the more impressive overall pedigree in the province, holding 18 Munster titles compared to Waterford’s nine.
The Deise enter the match as favourites and will be hoping to finally end their All Ireland drought this season. Waterford claimed the Munster title in 2010 when they beat Cork after a replay and extra-time. The Deise, however, fell at the All Ireland semi-final stage to Tipperary, losing by 3-19 to 1-18.
Limerick endured a disappointing championship campaign in 2010. The Treaty County lost by 13 points to Cork in the Munster semi-final before falling at the first hurdle of the qualifiers to Offaly.
Both counties enter the championship in relatively impressive form. Waterford enjoyed a successful league campaign, finishing third in Division 1 with nine points. The Deise lost to the 2010 All-Ireland finalists Kilkenny and Tipperary and drew with Dublin. Waterford did, however, score victories against Wexford, Cork, Galway and Offaly. Limerick won Division 2 at a canter, winning all nine matches.
Limerick have a miserable recent record against Waterford, only winning once in the past seven Munster encounters between the teams. The sides last met in the Championship in 2009 and it took a replay to separate the sides. Waterford were the victors on that occasion, winning by 0-25 to 0-17. Eoin Kelly was the star for Waterford in the replay, scoring 12 points.
Limerick’s only recent championship victory over Waterford came in the 2007 All-Ireland semi-final, when Limerick surprisingly triumphed by 5-11 to 2-15.
Limerick will have to cope without Declan Hannon as the player is sitting his Leaving Cert, while Stephen Lucey will also not play. Centre-back Seamus Hickey is expected to overcome a heel injury and Mark O’Riordan should also be fit.
Waterford team: 1. Clinton Hennessy (Ardmore) 2. Darragh Fives (Tourin) 3. Wayne Hutchinson (Ballygunner) 4. Noel Connors (Passage) 5. Tony Browne (Mount Sion) 6. Michael Walsh (Stradbally) 7. Kevin Moran (De La Salle) 8. Shane O’Sullivan (Ballygunner) 9. Richie Foley (Abbeyside) 10. Maurice Shanahan (Lismore) 11. Stephen Molumphy (CAPT) (Ballyduff Upper) 12. Pauric Mahony (Ballygunner) 13. John Mullane (De La Salle) 14. Shane Walsh (Four Mile Water) 15. Brian O’Sullivan (Ballygunner)
Limerick Team: Nicky Quaid; Damien Reale, Seamus Hickey, Tom Condon; Wayne McNamara, Brian Geary, Gavin O’Mahony (capt); Donal O’Grady, Paul Browne; James Ryan, Richie McCarthy, Niall Moran; Sean Tobin, Kevin Downes, Graeme Mulcahy.