Work by the final two championship video games that Limerick and Kilkenny have performed in a linear means and there is just one conclusion to attract – Kilkenny will win and Brian Cody could have a twelfth All-Eire title as supervisor.
imerick wanted extra-time to beat Clare and even then there was solely a purpose between them, whereas that they had to attract on all their powers of resilience to carve out a three-point win over Galway in a decent, tense All-Eire semi-final.
In distinction, Kilkenny despatched Clare so simply of their semi-final that it was by no means unsure as half-time approached whereas there was by no means a way of their Leinster ultimate in opposition to Galway that they might lose, a five-point margin barely flattering to Galway however the couple of purpose possibilities they left on the market early on.
Is there any purpose to not recommend a Kilkenny win based mostly on these easy metrics?
After all, it doesn’t work like that. Limerick have been back-to-back All-Eire champions for the final two years due to their potential to impose their will and bodily energy on opponents early and dominate them.
However this yr, they’ve needed to win video games in a different way. In each certainly one of their Munster round-robin video games and the Munster ultimate and All-Eire semi-final since, they’ve had moments of jeopardy. Even in opposition to Tipperary, a recreation they gained effectively ultimately, they wanted Conor Boylan’s late purpose to flick a change and go. Cork too within the opening recreation threw all the pieces at them early within the second half however Limerick nonetheless discovered a response.
However that’s the mark of champions and so they’re clearly at a special stage of their cycle now the place they will, as a bunch, course of conditions as they see them and suppose their means out of them.
Galway was perhaps too shut for consolation. However truthfully, was there any doubt that Limerick wouldn’t see it house? You bought that very same sense from the Dublin footballers of their prime.
One factor getting on their shoulder rounding the final bend, one other factor completely to go previous them down the house straight. That stated, Limerick aren’t in the identical mode as they had been final summer season. Cian Lynch has had a horrible summer season with accidents, first hamstring, now ankle, and gained’t play a task. You’ll be able to’t underestimate the lack of a two-time Hurler of the Yr on this regard, particularly one who has been the glue to all of it.
Consequently, the Limerick half-forward line hasn’t been as imperious because it has been during the last two seasons. Gearóid Hegarty has had his moments, Kyle Hayes when he’s been there, much less so Tom Morrissey. While you look again by 2021 and 2020, even 2019 and 2018, their affect has been profound.
Some steadiness may be introduced by the development of Aaron Gillane and Séamus Flanagan inside them. They’ve missed Peter Casey, obtainable once more after approaching in opposition to Galway, however Flanagan’s Munster ultimate show (0-8 from play) and Gillane, each time he performs, have been magnificent, their potential to get pictures away underneath strain tough to defend in opposition to.
Unusually, pursuit of three-in-a-row hasn’t actually been an element. For Limerick, it’s extra about beating Kilkenny in an All-Eire ultimate, the final field to tick for a staff that has completed nearly all the pieces else. It’s a measure of the respect for Kilkenny hurling that they’re considered on this means by everybody.
That is removed from Brian Cody’s greatest staff in 24 years. Eoin Murphy and TJ Reid would make any of his groups however after that, who else? Adrian Mullen and perhaps Eoin Cody in time, Pádraig Walsh a contender, Huw Lawlor and Paddy Deegan make claims. However there are limits.
And but collectively, they’ve been most spectacular of their final two video games. From the place they had been, dropping to Wexford in Nowlan Park (had Dublin and Galway drawn on the identical evening they had been out), they’ve turned it round emphatically.
Limerick can be imbued with the reminiscence of their final championship assembly with Kilkenny, their final defeat too, the 2019 All-Eire semi-final. Kilkenny hit them with all the pieces that night and there was a way Limerick weren’t prepared for it. This time they are going to be.
However a ultimate just like the final two the place Limerick dominate early and put it past doubt? Not going. Even when Kilkenny’s final two All-Eire finals concluded with nine- and 14-point defeats to Tipperary, they had been in each video games at half-time. In 2019, Richie Hogan’s pink card made a big distinction to the end result.
Kilkenny will search for weaknesses within the Limerick defence and attempt to expose them. There aren’t many however Mike Casey, again this yr after lacking a lot motion with damage, was caught for the Galway purpose and such motion behind him is prone to be replicated by TJ Reid and Eoin Cody. Kilkenny are additionally prone to occupy Barry Nash, given how influential he has been, typically as a spare defender.
Additional outfield Adrian Mullen has been in magnificent type between half-forward and midfield, sufficient to demand a exact plan from Limerick.
However matching defenders with these Limerick forwards will even have occupied Kilkenny minds intensely during the last two weeks. Deegan is arguably their largest asset however the place does he go? Hayes, Hegarty, even Gillane? Lynch’s possible absence might elicit a galvanising response from Limerick in the best way that JJ Delaney’s did it for Kilkenny after they halted Cork in 2006.
The champions have answered each query requested of them this yr and there have been many. Kilkenny will present as many once more. However Limerick’s traces are too effectively rehearsed at this stage.