Limerick’s defeat to Cork on Sunday once more highlighted the struggles that teams face when coming in cold to the cauldron of Championship hurling.
For the second year running in Munster, the team that didn’t play on the opening weekend was beaten. Waterford lost to a Clare side who had been beaten by Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh the previous weekend. With the Banner eager not to lose again and the novelty of a home Championship game in Ennis, the Déise sailed into a perfect storm and lost by nine points.
Last week, Wexford selector Seoirse Bulfin raised the disadvantage of not playing in Round 1 for the second year running. He spoke of last year’s additional time steal against Dublin in Wexford Park in Round 2:
“We came in very cold and Dublin had put in a tremendous performance against Kilkenny, they were just pipped at the end. To be honest, we were very lucky to get out of jail against Dublin at home.”
It was different this time around in that Wexford had the upper hand going into additional time but the battling instincts of Dublin, sharpened in Kilkenny eight days earlier, denied Buflin and company the two points.
Munster champions in All-Ireland semi-finals (2010, 2012-’15, 2017, ’18).
The benefit of an All-Ireland quarter-final has never been more apparent than when it has come at the expense of the Munster champions. In this decade, just Tipperary (2011 and ’16) have managed successfully bridge the gap between the provincial decider and the All-Ireland semi-final.
Munster semi-final byes (2004-’06, 2008-’12, 2014, 2016-’17).
Under the old five county, knock-out structure from 2004 to ‘17, one team had a bye into the semi-final. Out of those 14 seasons, the team who enjoyed the supposed luck of the draw in avoiding a quarter-final lost to the quarter-final winners 11 times - Clare (2005 ‘09, ‘11 and ‘14), Limerick (2008, ‘10, ‘16), Waterford (2006, ‘17), Cork (2012) and Tipperary (2004).
Leinster finals (2013, ‘14).
For two years running, one Leinster semi-final went to a replay, Kilkenny being involved on both occasions. The first time around, the clashes with the Cats proved to be ideal preparation for Dublin as they dismissed Galway, who had been waiting three weeks unlike Dublin who had a week, by 12 points. The roles were reversed the following season as two tussles with Galway had Kilkenny primed for Dublin in the final, Anthony Daly’s team having also had three weeks of a build-up to Kilkenny’s one.