Just five days after their epic All-Ireland SHC Final replay, a potential re-match between newly-crowned champions Clare and Jimmy Barry Murphy’s Cork was made possible when the draw for the 2014 Senior Hurling Championship was made in Croke Park this evening.
Davy Fitzgerald’s charges have received a bye into the semi-final stage of the Munster Championship, where they will await the winners of a quarter-final clash between the Rebels and Waterford. The losing Liam McCarthy finalists will find plenty of motivation from the prospect of another showdown with the Banner County, although Waterford (who are currently managerless following the acrimonious resignation of Michael Ryan) will have been buoyed by some encouraging performances during 2013.
On the other side of the draw, Limerick and Tipperary are paired with each other for the third year in succession, with this year’s encounter seeing the Treaty County producing a surprising 1-19 to 1-16 victory over the hotly-fancied Tipperary, before securing their first Munster crown in 17 years with a magnificent 0-24 to 0-15 success over Cork.
In Leinster, Dublin’s reward for sealing their first piece of provincial silverware since 1961 is a bye into the semi-final, but they will be forced to play a waiting game before knowing who their opponents will be. They find themselves on the same side of the draw as Wexford, who were handed a quarter-final date with the group winners of a round-robin section involving Antrim, Carlow, Laois, London and Westmeath.
The runner-up of this five-strong group will also gain passage to the quarter-finals in the East, where their counterparts will be 2012 winners Galway. Having endured a disappointing campaign this season, the Tribesmen are hoping to reclaim the form that saw them reaching the Liam McCarthy decider last year, while Kilkenny will also be aiming to bounce back in their second consecutive quarter-final duel with Offaly.
On paper, Dublin, Wexford, Galway and Kilkenny will all be expected to make the last-four of the competition, but the unpredictable nature of the competition during the past couple of seasons means that none of the sides can take their would-be opponents for granted.
LEINSTER SENIOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP:
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP: Antrim, Carlow, Laois, London, Westmeath
QUARTER-FINAL: Group Winner V Wexford; Group Runner-Up V Galway; Kilkenny V Offaly
SEMI-FINAL: Dublin V Group Winner/Wexford; Group Runner-Up/Galway V Kilkenny/Offaly
MUNSTER SENIOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP
QUARTER-FINAL: Waterford V Cork
SEMI-FINAL: Tipperary V Limerick; Clare V Waterford/Cork