O’Grady relieved to avoid clash with native Cork

NEW Limerick hurling boss Donal O’Grady last night expressed his personal satisfaction at having avoided his native Cork in next year’s Munster championship, but warned that his side face a massive semi-final challenge against Davy Fitzgerald’s Waterford.

Limerick were drawn to face Waterford at the semi-final stage in last night’s televised draws for the 2011 provincial championships, with Cork set to face reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary in their Munster opening for the fourth year running.

Denis Walsh will lead Cork into battle against the Premier team for the third successive quarter-final while they previously clashed in the 2008 semi-final. The match will be played in Semple Stadium as per the counties’ home-and-away arrangement with the winners facing Clare in the last four.

“Personally I’m very pleased to have avoided Cork as it wouldn’t have been something I’d have enjoyed,” admitted O’Grady.

“For Limerick it is an advantage to get a bye through to the semi-final. But I’m sure Waterford will look at it in the same way and they are going to be a massive challenge.”

In Leinster hurling, Dublin, Galway and Offaly have all been stationed at the opposite side of the draw to Brian Cody’s Kilkenny. The reigning provincial champions will face Wexford, Antrim or Laois in the semi-final.

In football, Clare have the daunting task of travelling to Páirc Uí Chaoimh to face Cork in the Munster opener, but defender Gordon Kelly is relishing the occasion.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us to be taking on the reigning All-Ireland champions in the first round of Munster. We’ll be training hard and looking forward to it.”

The winners will face Waterford in the last four while on the other side of the draw Kerry face Tipperary with Limerick awaiting in the semi-final.

Elsewhere in football, there are glamour clashes in Ulster in the last eight pairings of Armagh against Down, and Monaghan meeting Tyrone, while in Connacht Mayo will face old rivals Galway if they defeat London.

In Leinster, Dublin, Kildare and Meath are all on the same side of the draw, with Carlow boss Luke Dempsey pleased to have avoided those big guns.

“We’re glad to have avoided those tough draws and the big counties, and we’ll look forward to facing Louth in the quarter-final.”

Meanwhile, the GPA released their official player welfare report yesterday and revealed they are aiming to double their outlay on player welfare programmes to a figure of €4.5m over the next three years.

2011 Championship draws

HURLING

MUNSTER: Quarter-final: Tipperary v Cork.

Semi-finals: Limerick v Waterford; Clare v Tipperary/Cork.

LEINSTER: Preliminary Round: Antrim v Laois; Carlow v Westmeath.

Quarter-finals: Dublin v Offaly; Galway v Carlow/Westmeath; Antrim/Laois v Wexford.

Semi-finals: Dublin/Offaly v Galway/Carlow/Westmeath; Antrim/Laois/Wexford v Kilkenny.

FOOTBALL

MUNSTER: Quarter-finals: Kerry v Tipperary; Clare v Cork.

Semi-finals: Limerick v Kerry/Tipperary; Waterford v Clare/Cork.

CONNACHT: Quarter-finals: New York v Roscommon; Leitrim v Sligo; London v Mayo.

Semi-finals: Leitrim/Sligo v New York/Roscommon; London/Mayo v Galway.

ULSTER: Preliminary Round: Antrim v Donegal

Quarter-finals: Antrim/Donegal v Cavan; Tyrone v Monaghan; Derry v Fermanagh; Armagh v Down.

Semi-Finals: Antrim/Donegal/Cavan v Tyrone/Monaghan; Derry/Fermanagh v Armagh/Down.

LEINSTER: First Round: Kildare v Wicklow; Laois v Longford; Wexford v Offaly.

Quarter-finals: Kildare/Wicklow v Meath; Laois/Longford v Dublin; Wexford/Offaly v Westmeath; Carlow v Louth.

Semi-finals: Kildare/Wicklow/Meath v Laois/Longford/Dublin; Wexford/Offaly/Westmeath v Carlow/Louth.

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