GAA weekend previews: Limerick can prevent Clare repeating the dose

In Croke Park, Galway need to show something but steady Kilkenny may not be impressed


Munster SHC final

Limerick v Clare, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 1.45 [Live RTÉ2]

(Extra time and winner on the day)


A fourth championship encounter in just a year is delicately poised with a win each and a draw. Clare’s victory in April was very significant, confirming Limerick’s less than stellar start to the championship and Clare’s recovery from an opening round defeat.

There is a consensus that Limerick have incrementally recovered from that day and that trajectory should be just enough to keep them ahead on Sunday.

Yet that’s more or less every preview of this fixture: big scrap with Limerick to edge the result. Clare though have confounded the simplicity of that by consistently raising their game when facing the neighbours.

Unfortunately, they have a doubt over full back Conor Cleary, a mainstay in the bruising exchanges with Aaron Gillane and Séamus Flanagan and that would change things. Limerick have their own issues with the absence of Seán Finn and Cian Lynch’s ongoing hamstring issues.

Paul Flanagan was exceptionally good in this fixture 12 months ago and could resume in place of Cleary.

Limerick have the comfort of their best performance having come in the most recent match and it was needed as Cork tried hard to break them in the early phases with the accuracy of their shooting but the champions rediscovered their goal touch.

Clare have the advantage this year of Aidan McCarthy’s return. He looked a little out of sorts against Cork after a quad injury but, in top gear, he’s a major part of the middle-third task force which tied up Limerick in the round-robin match. Tony Kelly was restored to virtually his best the last day but he was ethereal a year ago.

Can they relocate that fluid dynamic this weekend?

The champions’ half backs have kicked on since April and are playing better. Scores are beginning to come from their half forwards and piece by piece the machinery is clicking into place.

Verdict: Limerick

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Mike Casey, Dan Morrisey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon (capt), Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, Will O’Donoghue; Gearóid Hegarty, Cathal O’Neill, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Séamus Flanagan, Peter Casey Subs: David McCarthy, Conor Boylan, Ronan Connolly, Aaron Costello, Colin Coughlan, Adam English, Richie English, Cian Lynch, Graeme Mulcahy, Oisín O’Reilly, David Reidy.

Clare: Éibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, David McInerney; David Fitzgerald, Cathal Malone; Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly, Aidan McCarthy; Ryan Taylor, Shane O’Donnell, Mark Rodgers. Subs: Eamonn Foudy, Cian Nolan, Ian Galvin, Shane Meehan, Aron Shanagher, Aaron Fitzgerald, Robin Mounsey, Paul Flanagan, Cian Galvin, Keith Smyth, Séadna Morey.

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)

Leinster SHC final

Kilkenny v Galway, Croke Park [Live RTÉ2]

(Extra time and winner on the day)

Galway desperately search for a spark. Just something to ignite maybe a signature performance as well as to pick up a piece of silverware. They have been so disappointing in their last couple of Leinster finals between letting it all slip in 2020 and hardly firing a shot last year.

The teams met just six weeks ago in one of those matches with some consequence but little pressure. Galway pulled it out of the fire but any kudos was qualified by the fact that the contest could have been put to bed a lot earlier.

There wasn’t much between them that day in Kilkenny and the absence of Adrian Mullen is a drag on the champions’ ambitions but the return of Mikey Carey adds a bit of zip to the half-back line.

Galway look to be without Cathal Mannion and in the context of an under-functioning attack that will also be a loss.

Kilkenny very nearly sent Wexford spinning into the McDonagh Cup and their ability to conjure goals will be continue to a threat to Galway, in-form Eoin Cody especially.

Ultimately though the destination of the O’Keeffe Cup swings on Galway’s mentality. Henry Shefflin would love to take a first trophy but the motivation equally applies to Derek Lyng in the first year of the post-Cody era.

It’s hard to take Galway on trust.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; Mikey Carey, David Blanchfield, Darragh Corcoran; Richie Reid, Paddy Deegan; Tom Phelan, John Donnelly, Billy Ryan; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Eoin Cody. Subs: Aidan Tallis, Conor Delaney, Cillian Buckley, Pádraig Walsh, Conor Fogarty, Alan Murphy, Cian Kenny, Timmy Clifford, Walter Walsh, Richie Hogan, Billy Drennan.

Galway: Éanna Murphy; Jack Grealish, Gearóid McInerney, Darren Morrissey; Pádraic Mannion, Daithi Burke, Fintan Burke; Joseph Cooney, Ronan Glennon; Tom Monaghan, Conor Cooney, Kevin Cooney; Conor Whelan, Brian Concannon, Evan Niland. Subs: Darach Fahy, TJ Brennan, Eoin Lawless, Adrian Tuohey, Seán Linnane, Cathal Mannion, Tiernan Killeen, Liam Collins, Declan McLoughlin, Jason Flynn, Donal O’Shea.

Saturday, June 10th

Tailteann Cup preliminary quarter-finals

(extra time and winner on the day)

Offaly v Wexford, Glenisk O’Connor Park, 4.0 – Teams with a bit of history in that they met twice last year, winning a match apiece in the Tailteann Cup and Leinster championship respectively. Whereas Wexford have slowly picked up momentum under John Hegarty and goalkeeper Darragh Brooks overcame early adversity against Leitrim to put in a great showing, this is a daunting prospect, give venue disadvantage and the form shown by Offaly in Leinster when pushing Louth all the way in the provincial semi-final. Despite a poor and undisciplined performance against Cavan, they can get back on track.

Verdict: Offaly

Carlow v New York, Netwatch Cullen Park, 5.0 [Live, GAAGO] – For the second year Niall Carew’s Carlow have made an impression on the Tailteann Cup and have home advantage for the visit of New York. After the visitors’ heroics in early championship recording a first even win, reality intruded in the Connacht semi-final. It was pointed out in their defence that flying in, changing time zones and playing a match is not ideal even with the starry cast they can call on. And particularly against a form team with veteran Darragh Foley in excellent form

Verdict: Carlow

Fermanagh v Laois, Brewster Park, 6.0 – Laois ended up ensuring that just Waterford and Leitrim ended up with no points in the competition when drawing in London. Fermanagh have had a similarly disheartening campaign, especially as they might have hoped for Sam Maguire football having topped Division Three, and lost a big lead to Wexford before getting overrun in the end by Antrim. They have quality in the notional full forward line of Ultan Kelm, Darragh McGurn and Seán Quigley and that should be enough to reach the quarter-finals.

Verdict: Fermanagh

Down v Longford, Newry, 7.0 [Live, GAAGO] – It’s been a dispiriting season for Longford since winning the O’Byrne Cup. Paddy Christie’s team struggled in both league and championship but get a shot at progress here. It’s unlikely however, given Down’s performances to date in both league – nearly promoted to Division Two – and championship – beating Donegal.

Verdict: Down

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times