Tipp and Limerick begin Munster campaign

The 2005 Munster senior hurling championship gets underway today with the meeting of Tipperary and Limerick at Semple Stadium, Thurles.

The 2005 Munster senior hurling championship gets underway today with the meeting of Tipperary and Limerick at Semple Stadium, Thurles.

After poor league campaigns, both sides are looking for a decent run in the championship, with the home side strong favourites going into the clash.

Limerick go in search of their first championship win since 2001, and their first over Tipperary since 1996.

The Shannonsiders will also be keen to atone for the defeat by the Premier County that ended their interest in the championship at the qualifier stage last year.

However, Tipperary's success was short-lived as they lost to Cork in the following round.

Under Ken Hogan, Tipperary have failed to reach the dizzying heights that saw them clinch the All-Ireland title in 2001 under predecessor Nicky English, but the manager has made changes and tried out a number of fresh faces during the league.

One of those, Francis Devaney, makes his senior championship debut today. The attacker is one of four changes from the side that bowed out to Cork last year.

Devaney is set to lead the attack in place of Conor Gleeson, who was dropped from the panel earlier this year.

Lar Corbett, a sub in the game against Cork, is named at full-forward, while Paddy O'Brien is named at top of the left in place of Seamus Butler.

David Kennedy returns to the heart of defence and Declan Fanning moves to the right wing to accommodate him. Colin Morrissey partners Paul Kelly in midfield.

Benny Dunne captains the side, but there is no room for his brother Tommy, who lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup in 2001.

It is also a family affair for ace attacker Eoin Kelly and his brother Paul as they lock horns with their cousins from Limerick - Ollie and Niall Moran. Brothers TJ and Donie Ryan line out in attack for Limerick today.

Dual player Stephen Lucey is named at full-back, from where former skipper TJ Ryan moved in the latter part of the league.

Mark Foley stays at corner-back, with Lucey in the middle and Damien Reale in the other corner, while Adare's Timmy Houlihan is chosen between the sticks.

Skipper Ollie Moran, Brian Geary and Peter Lawlor make up the half-back line. Donal O'Grady partners Paul O'Grady in midfield.

Lucey's football colleague Conor Fitzgerald is selected in the half-forward line, with Niall Moran in the middle and Andrew O'Shaughnessy on the other flank.

The trio will need to up their performances considerably to cope with the strength of the Tipperary half-back line, while Mark Foley, in his first senior championship game at corner-back, faces the onerous task of man-marking Eoin Kelly, Tipperary's All Star and top scorer.

LIMERICK (SHC v Tipperary): T Houlihan; D Reale, S Lucey, M Foley; O Moran, B Geary, P Lawlor; D O'Grady, P O'Grady; C Fitzgerald, N Moran, A O'Shaughnessy; D Ryan, TJ Ryan, D Sheehan.

TIPPERARY (SHC v Limerick): B Cummins; M Maher, P Maher, P Curran; D Fanning, D Kennedy, E Corcoran; C Morrissey, P Kelly; J Devane, F Devaney, B Dunne; E Kelly, L Corbett, P O'Brien.

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