We had a preview of this year’s Hurling Championship Finale in mid-November as Limerick overcame a stern test from Waterford to win the Munster final. Now, Waterford have a second bite at the cherry on the biggest stage of all after a heroic semi-final win over Kilkenny. But, the challenge Waterford posed in that Munster showdown means John Kiely will be sure not to underestimate his opposition. Limerick have been the team to beat in this year’s Championship but Waterford have already caused more than one upset. Limerick vs Waterford takes place at 15:30 on Sunday.
The Déise men opened their campaign against Cork and recorded a four-point win to set up a Munster final against Limerick. Four points was again the difference between the teams but this time Waterford came out on the losing side. However, Liam Cahill’s side left that game with the knowledge that they could compete with the best. They brought a ferocious intensity and went toe-to-toe with Limerick’s physicality in midfield.
In the 51st minute of that game Waterford were ahead. Then, Limerick’s strength in depth proved to be crucial. Kiely introduced reinforcements and his big guns on the pitch raised their game accordingly. Kieran Bennett was assigned to Cian Lynch for that game and Callum Lyons stuck to Gearóid Hegarty like glue. Still, these two Limerick leaders hit four points between them. It will be interesting to see how Cahill deploys his man-markers this time around. He will likely stick with what proved successful in the Munster final. However, there is no room for error with the stakes so high.
Following their Munster final defeat, Waterford beat Clare to set up a semi-final against Kilkenny. That game against the Cats resulted on one of the most entertaining games of Hurling to grace the Championship in what was already an action-packed year. As a result, Waterford carry the momentum into this final.
Special Limerick Team
In contrast, Limerick’s journey to the final yielded less drama and close-calls. Entering the Championship as favourites, their performances have justified this title. After conquering Munster, John Kiely’s troops beat Galway in the semi-final with three points to spare. The showing was a great example of how Limerick have the necessary tools to overcome whatever challenge is thrown at them.
In that semi-final, Limerick quickly fell five-points behind the Galwegians. Despite managing to come back without any sense of desperation, Kiely will be keen to ensure his side hit the ground running in the final.
Limerick’s physicality and intensity in the middle-third has been the source of much of their praise this year. However, their efficiency in front of goal has been their most valuable attribute.
As much as Liam Cahill will be focusing on the midfield battle, he must set-up his team to try and neutralise an incredibly economical Limerick attack. After failing to live up to expectations last year, Limerick are aiming to claim their second Liam McCarthy in three years.
Meanwhile, Waterford haven’t had an All-Ireland win since 1959. But, the loss of 2017 will be fresh in many minds and they’ll be keen end their drought.
Limerick vs Waterford is on RTÉ and Sky Sports Mix.
Limerick are 2/5 favourites with Paddy Power. On the other hand, Waterford are 5/2 and a draw is 10/1.
All-Ireland SHC Final: Limerick vs Waterford, Sunday, December 13th, 15:30 (Croke Park).
— The GAA (@officialgaa) December 10, 2020