“Tales of the Unexpected,” that’s how Limerick manager John Allen describes this year’s hurling championship, surprises being sprung in both Munster and Leinster.
“The fact that we beat Tipperary, Cork came in as underdogs and beat Clare, Dublin started poorly and are now in a Leinster final having beaten Kilkenny. Now we have Kilkenny and Tipp. It’s like the TV series Tales of the Unexpected. You’ve a new programme because it’s been a series of unexpected results.”
Kilkenny have already been installed as favourites for that knockout game against Tipp in a high-profile qualifier in Nowlan Park this Saturday — could be yet another surprise, John reckons. “I think Tipperary might win it. The rest would have done them good and the fact that we beat them will also have done them good (Limerick beat Tipp on June 9). When you lose you do much more forensic reviewing then when you win. I think they will have certainly forensically taken their team and their performance apart in that Munster semi-final and maybe now we’ll see that there’s more they can do or there is a different combination of players that they need to pick to beat Kilkenny. Kilkenny have a lot of injuries again, (are playing) three weeks in a row, not going very well. I think it might be Tipp’s turn.”
As for Limerick, clean bill of health as they prepare for their Munster final date with Cork on Sunday week so far. “Paudie O’Brien has a bit of a hamstring tweak and James Ryan has a bit of a hand problem but nothing major,” said Allen. “Something could happen the last night at training as we all know, it could happen in the warm up, but generally everyone is fine. There’s a lot of credit due to Mark Van Drumpt and James Ryan, our medical team. You often hear of teams having a lot of hamstring problems but Mark Lyons has just done a great job as our strength and conditioning coach and Donncha O’Donnell as coach. We have gone through the whole year, touch wood, with nearly everyone available for all the games. That’s fairly unique.”
Not the same story for Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy, and Allen — who managed Cork to their last Munster title in 2006 — has been keeping a watchful eye, noting Cork’s latest setback with the injury to Brian Murphy in a club championship game last Sunday evening. “Brian Murphy came through 62 minutes, got injured in the last play of the game. It’s the same with Lorcan McLoughlin getting injured, Pa Cronin being sick recently and Paudie O’Sullivan. Panel-wise we are in a better position than Cork.”
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