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Limerick have a chance to make it back-to-back Munster Championships on Sunday. The 2018 All-Ireland Champions got off to a flying start by defeating last year’s winners Tipperary a fortnight ago. On the other hand, Waterford overcame Cork to reach their first Munster final since 2016. The winner of this final goes on to the semi-final where they’ll patiently await the 29th of November.
Since Waterford won Munster in 2010, they have returned to the final four times. However, each of these ended in defeat. Now, there is a chance for Waterford to capitalise on the new Championship format and claim Munster after just two games.
Previously, they began their Championship against Cork. Entering the game as underdogs, they soon showed they were there to play. A frantic opening ten minutes had the score at 0-5 to 0-4 for Cork. But, then Waterford enjoyed a good spell. Soon after the first-half water break, they made it double scores at 0-10 to 0-5. Although Cork kept coming back, Waterford took a three-point lead into the break.
Waterford were against a stiff wind in the second period. Yet, they more than held their own. Another frantic restart saw them go point-for-point with the rebels. Then, the ever-impressive Calum Lyons made a characteristic burst up the wing, holding off Cork challenges before firing into the net. That gave the Déise men a six-point lead.
From there, Waterford kept the scoreboard ticking over at a safe pace. At the full-time whistle they celebrated a 1-28 to 1-24 win. Ten different scorers contributed to the Waterford tally. This is something Liam Cahill will be delighted about. However, they still accumulated a worrying amount of wides. Limerick are more efficient than Cork and will punish Waterford for such wastefulness.
Limerick earn the badge of favourites
Last year’s Munster winners came back with a point to prove after losing the All-Ireland semi-final last year. They did just that against Tipperary who they took apart ruthlessly in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Limerick applied the lessons they learned about winter Championship in their opener against Clare to their semi-final tie. As a result, there was a physical duel in the middle third that Limerick’s middle eight embraced. Their superior conditioning stopped the Tipperary charge at its source and in turn supplied the forwards with all the chances they needed.
When Aaron Gillane scored Limerick’s first goal shortly after the first-half water-break, Limerick were four points ahead. From then until half-time they put their opponents to the sword. As a result, it was 1-17 to 1-8 at the break.
Facing a strong wind in the second-half, Limerick’s work rate off the ball made sure they were never on the back foot. Furthermore, they were incredibly economical in possession, making sure to be patient with the sliotar in midfield and finding the right passes inside. It ended 3-23 to 2-17 and Limerick’s performance saw them jump the queue to be favourites for this year’s Championship.
But, they won Munster convincingly last year and still failed to reach the All-Ireland final. Based on the evidence thus far, John Kiely’s side are out to prove a point to themselves.
Waterford have already proved capable of competing with the big teams. But, they need to be at their best and above to trump this Limerick team. Even if they fail to conquer Munster for the first time in a decade, Waterford could have a big part to play in the rest of the Championship.
Whereas, Limerick should have too much class for their opponents here. They know how to manage games and the competition within the team is only driving them on.
The Munster Hurling Final is on RTÉ on Sunday.
Limerick are 2/9 favourites with Paddy Power versus Waterford’s 4/1. A draw is 11/1.
Waterford : Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Tadhg De Burca, Kevin Moran; Jamie Barron, Jake Dillon; Jack Fagan, Kieran Bennett, Stephen Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Jack Prendergast.
They meet in the Munster final for the first time in 13 years when Waterford won by nine points (3-17 to 1-14) in 2007. Limerick later avenged that defeat in the All-Ireland semi-final, winning by 5-11 to 2-15.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Limerick 0-36 Clare 1-23
Limerick 3-23 Tipperary 2-17
Waterford 1-28 Cork 1-24
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS
2019: Limerick 2-24 Waterford 0-10 (Munster round robin)
2018: Limerick 2-26 Waterford 1-16 (Munster round robin)
2011: Waterford 3-15 Limerick 3-14 (Munster semi-final)
2009: Waterford 0-25 Limerick 0-17 (Munster semi-final) Replay
2009: Waterford 0-11 Limerick 1-8 (Munster semi-final) Draw
MUNSTER FINAL MEETINGS
2007: Waterford 3-17 Limerick 1-14
1934: Limerick 4-8 Waterford 2-5
1933: Limerick 3-7 Waterford 1-2 (unfinished – Limerick awarded game)
Facts and Figures
*Limerick are seeking their 21st Munster title; Waterford are bidding for their 10th.
*Limerick beat Waterford by 2-24 to 0-10 in last year’s Munster championship ‘round robin.’ The last competitive clash between them was in this year’s Allianz League when Limerick won by four points in March.
*Limerick are attempting to win the Munster title in successive years for the first time since 1980-81. Waterford last won the title in 2010 and were last in the final in 2016 when they lost to Tipperary.
*Aaron Gillane 2-18 (0-14 frees, 1-0 pen, 0-1 ‘65’), Ger Hegarty 0-7, Tom Morrissey 0-6, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-6 (0-2 frees) are Limerick’s top scorers in their two championship games to date.
*Stephen Bennett 0-12 (0-12 frees), Calum Lyons 1-2 were Waterford’s top scorers in the semi-final win over Cork.
Munster Hurling FInal: Limerick vs Waterford, Sunday, 15th November, 16:00 (Semple Stadium, Thurles).
— The GAA (@officialgaa) November 10, 2020