All-Ireland final preview
By Jim Fogarty
Limerick have an unbeaten championship sequence, now spanning 15 games. They lost the 2019 semi-final to Kilkenny, but should have had a 65 to level.
Their shot was waved wide despite a deflection. In this year’s Munster final with Clare, they were level 15 times, before winning in extra time.
They have matched the great Limerick team of the 1930’s, by winning 4 successive Munster titles
In Kilkenny’s semi-final win against Clare, only 3 of the starting 15 were on their last all-Ireland final win in 2015, Eoin Murphy, Padraig Walsh and TJ Reid.
Kilkenny’s display against Clare was the best performance by any team in this year’s championship.
Their last 2 All-Ireland final losses to Tipperary in 2016 and 2019 have been jarring on the back of 9 and 14 point deficits.
From that 2019 defeat, just 7 starters then are starting this year.
In the great Kilkenny tradition, Brian Cody has built another team.
In contrast, in this year’s semi-final against Galway, Limerick had 12 starters from their 2019 semi-final defeat.
Since John Kiely has been Limerick manager, Limerick have lost only 2 knockout games.
Both have been to Kilkenny in 2017 and 2019.
The last time both met in the final was in 2007, when Kilkenny won by 7 points.
In the semi-final against Galway, Limerick had 10 different scorers but 15 wides.
Limerick prevailed by 3 points, all scored beyond the 68th minute. The strength of their bench is impressive.
Substitute David Reidy scored 3 points.
The teams were level 7 times during the second half.
CHANGES PROVED IMPRESSIVE
When Kiely opted for changes he was able to call on Reidy, hurler of the year Cian Lynch, Peter Casey and Cathal O’Neill.
The physical presence of the Limerick team and their ability to win close games is very impressive.
Limerick unleashed the most dominant performance in final history last year.
Kilkenny limped through the Leinster round robin, suffering 2 defeats to Galway and Wexford.
Then came that wonderful performance against Clare.
Tony Kelly had scored at least once from play in his last 27 matches.
Mikey Butler kept him scoreless from play.
There hasn’t been a better debut by a corner back .
Add in the reliability of Huw Lawlor and Tommy Walsh.
Gillane has never been more important to Limerick.
Will Butler mark him in the final?
CATS SEMI-FINAL PERFORMANCE WAS CLASS
Kilkenny have 3 top class scorers in TJ Reid, Eoin Cody and Adrian Mullen.
Kilkenny’s performance in the semi-final was up there with anything they produced in the last 6 or 7 years.
Limerick averaged 10 points per win in 2021.
That has been cut to 4 in 2022.
The average age of the Limerick team that started the Munster final against Clare was 26.
Goalkeeper Nickie Quaid was the only one of that starting 15 in his thirties.
Limerick are similar if a little behind the all-conquering 4 in a row Kilkenny side of 2006 to 2009.
Who will win? Toss a coin.
*Jim Fogarty is from Tipperary. He is the author of The Dan Breen Cup, Tipperary county hurling finals 1931 to 2011; Also author of the Cross of Cashel, All-Ireland u-21 hurling finals .He is a regular contributor to match programmes.