Five things we learned from the GAA weekend: Limerick’s drive for five gaining steam already

The Kilkenny comparisons fall short; Waterford will see a drop on the double; Johnny Glynn might be an answer for Galway

Handbrake turns may lie ahead, but Limerick’s cruising speed is too much for the pack

The comparisons will pick up speed as the year progresses but it is not too soon to take a quick peek. Kilkenny’s bid for five All-Irelands in a row was ended by Tipperary in the 2010 final, and there was nothing in their championship form that summer to suggest that a fall was coming.

But the league is interesting because Brian Cody invariably took it seriously and often used it to demoralise putative rivals. That year, though, they lost to Tipperary, Galway and Cork in the spring, and it is hard to imagine that Cody was sanguine about that at the time.

After years of not bothering too much with the league, Limerick won it by design last year before making a really sluggish start to the championship. John Kiely didn’t make a connection in public between one thing and the other, but it wouldn’t have been a surprise if they gave the league play-offs a swerve this year.

As it turns out, they haven’t been able to stop themselves. They look likely to finish top of Division 1B with Clare guaranteed to finish top of the other division. It’s not inconceivable that Limerick and Clare could meet in a league final, three weeks before they’re scheduled to meet in the first round of the Munster championship. Is that what they really want? Truthfully, that’s the last thing the hurling league needs. Keep your eyes peeled for handbrake turns. Denis Walsh

Waterford face battle to get fans through the gates in 2025

Davy Fitzgerald was keen to turn his focus to the championship after Sunday’s loss to Wexford, but failure to secure a place in hurling’s top tier for 2025 is a significant blow for the county – off the field as much as on it.

Waterford wore their new jersey emblazoned with a Suir Engineering sponsorship logo at the weekend, while GAA president Jarlath Burns was interviewed on the Walsh Park pitch at half-time and talked warmly about the recently redeveloped ground. It was all very positive. But one hour later the picture was more clouds than rainbows. Waterford will play in Division 1B next year – essentially Division Two.

And although the final standings in all relevant divisions are still to be fully determined, that group is likely to comprise of Waterford, Dublin, Offaly, Westmeath, Antrim, Carlow and Laois – not exactly massive crowd pullers in terms of getting bums on seats at Walsh Park. Given a crowd of just 3,571 came through the gates on Sunday to see Wexford, Division 1B is likely to prove a difficult sell for Waterford GAA next season. Gordon Manning

Responding to Limerick remains as hard as ever

No current manager has more experience of playing Limerick than Liam Cahill. Saturday night’s game was his ninth against John Kiely in league and championship, six with Waterford and three with Tipperary. So far, Cahill has chalked up one win, one draw and seven losses.

The win was with Waterford in the emasculated Covid league of 2021, when Limerick finished with 13 men. The draw was in last summer’s championship when Tipp led for most of the match and still needed an equaliser in the eighth minute of stoppage time.

Cahill is always engaging and often blunt in his post-match press conferences. On Saturday night he said there was no mystery to what Limerick bring and he mentioned a few of their defining characteristics. Does that mean knowledge is power? Or not?

One of Limerick’s performance traits is targeting the third quarter. In the championship game last summer they got the first four scores of the second half and wiped out Tipp’s half-time lead. On Saturday night they went on a run of five unanswered points in the middle of the third quarter and wiped out Tipperary’s half-time lead. In the league semi-final last year they outscored Tipp by four points in the third quarter and wiped out Tipperary’s half-time lead.

“Ten minutes after half-time they looked to really assert themselves on the game again,” said Cahill on Saturday night. “Sure look, that’s nothing new with Limerick. That’s their trait.”

“We spoke about starting the second half well,” said Cahill after the league semi-final last year, “but Limerick found their flow there for a 10- or-15-minute period.”

So, everyone knows the questions. Answers? Denis Walsh

Glynn may be able to provide answer to Galway’s tough questions

In one sense, it’s fair to say that if Johnny Glynn is the answer for Galway, they’re in Larry Gogan territory and the question doesn’t suit them. It’s five years since he played intercounty and he has been essentially a part-time hurler living in New York for most of that time. If he’s able to swoop back in and find a place on the championship panel for the summer, it will be some achievement. It won’t say much for this generation of Galway forwards, all the same.

You can see it though, can’t you? Glynn may not be quite as skilful as the roll-call of Galway inside forwards – although his wrists have always been underrated and he was never as one-dimensional as people tended to paint him. But there’s no doubt that the best version of him would offer a presence that Henry Shefflin’s side have been crying out for.

When Galway absolutely, positively need the ball to stick in their inside line, they know they can send Conor Whelan a 40/60 ball and he will still be likely to make something of it. They can’t always say the same about Evan Niland, Brian Concannon or Jason Flynn, for all their abilities. The very least you’d expect from Glynn is that he would take minding.

So far, he’s only been in and out of training and he went back to the US on Monday morning so there’s obviously a fair chance none of this will come to fruition. Could be fun, though. Malachy Clerkin

Fixture flow gives grounds for satisfaction – for now

In the crash-bang scheduling of the modern national leagues, the imperative to avoid postponements is absolute. Without tempting fate, the CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee) might allow itself a modicum of satisfaction over the smooth running of this season’s hurling fixtures.

As Division 1 counties try to work out how long it is advisable to remain in league contention, given the imminence of the championship – at this stage, six weeks and counting – any unscheduled interruption becomes insupportable.

To date there have been no postponements of fixtures in the top two divisions.

Obviously, weather can’t be depended on to give the hurling league a clear run and if it gets Biblical like the 2018 Beast from the East, matches can’t be played.

Nonetheless, improved pitch technologies have also played a role in facilitating matches going ahead in reasonable conditions – and not forced to take place because there was no scheduling option, as happened with last January’s All-Ireland club football semi-final between Kilmacud and Glen, which was at best glimpsed through layers of fog.

Hurling had a rest weekend when the weather descended to freezing at the beginning of March but impressively, there was minimal impact on the football fixtures.

Fermanagh’s Division Two match against Armagh was delayed by 20 hours but everything else has proceeded as planned.

It all remains on a tightrope, though, as if meteorological disaster strikes once the rest weekends are over, schedules would become extremely challenging, but with updated match and league protocols designed to reduce or eliminate the need for unscheduled fixtures, the CCCC are allowed a pat on the back every year things work out.

So far, anyway. Seán Moran