Kilkenny to stand alone in face of Munster march

At 5.15pm, there's a distinct chance that all four semi-final spots in this year's All-Ireland hurling championship could be occupied by Munster counties.

At 5.15pm, there's a distinct chance that all four semi-final spots in this year's All-Ireland hurling championship could be occupied by Munster counties.

Tipperary and Limerick have every chance of advancing from this afternoon's SHC quarter-finals, particularly Ken Hogan's beaten Munster finalists, who take on Galway in the opener (throw-in 2pm) at Croke Park.

The occasion should be made all the more tantalising as Tipp and Galway clash for the first time since 2001's memorable All-Ireland final.

Some 55,000 turned up at headquarters last weekend to see Cork and Clare progress to the last four, and with Galway not having played in the championship at Croker since 2002, even more are expected today.

Injuries to Hugh Moloney, John Carroll and Colin Morrissey have delayed the Tipp selection, although there should be little sway from the side which ran Cork to five points in last month's Munster final.

A Eugene Cloonan-less Galway have been largely reliable on Ger Farragher so far in 2005. He has contributed 1-31 in the Tribesmen's three wins this summer, and offers a steady stream of scores.

Alan Kerins returns for his first championship start today, and will need a big game as Tipp can look to Eoin Kelly, Benny Dunne and possible starter Eddie Enright for guidance. Tipp looked the business in the second half against Cork and with Galway unimpressive in a single-point defeat of Limerick last time out, the form would suggest a victory for Premier men.

In today's second quarter-final (throw-in 4pm), Leinster champions Kilkenny are odds-on favourites to progress against Joe McKenna's Limerick.

The Shannonsiders have chalked up wins against Laois and Antrim this summer, but lost against both Tipp and Galway, and have never really found senior success since their All-Ireland Under-21 titles of 2000, 2001 and 2002.

It has been a long time since the Cats met Limerick in the senior championship - 1974 to be exact - and although Kilkenny boast an enviable pedigree at Croke Park, the freshness and vigour of Limerick youngsters Andrew O'Shaughnessy, Pat Kirby and Donie Ryan could prove an interesting factor.

In saying that, with DJ Carey slotted in at full-forward beside the Cats' top scorer Henry Shefflin (2-19), it's hard to oppose anything other than a Kilkenny win, with only the margin in question.

TIPPERARY: tbc

GALWAY: L Donoghue; D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning; D Hardiman, T Og Regan, D Collins; F Healy, D Tierney; A Kerins, D Forde, N Healy; G Farragher, R Murray, D Hayes.

KILKENNY: J McGarry; M Kavanagh, J Tennyson, J Ryall; R Mullally, P Barry, JJ Delaney; D Lyng, B Barry; M Comerford, E Larkin, T Walsh; R Power, DJ Carey, H Shefflin.

LIMERICK: T Houlihan; D Reale, S Lucey, M Foley; O Moran, B Geary, P Lawlor; P O'Grady, N Moran; D Ryan, J O'Brien, M Cahill; P Kirby, TJ Ryan, A O'Shaughnessy.

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