Munster SFC preview: Kingdom set to reign once more

May 17, 2018

Cork's Ian Maguire, Limerick's Donal O'Sullivan, Clare's Gary Brennan, Waterford's James McGrath and Kerry's Fionn Fitzgerald at the launch of the 2018 Munster SFC ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

What makes this Munster SFC different to many of those that preceded it? On the face of it, not much - Kerry and Cork are on opposite sides of the draw and traditionally, when that happens, the superpowers of the south advance to the final.

This year, though, is intriguing because while the Kingdom are clearly the outstanding side and motored along quite nicely without tearing up any trees in Division 1 of the Allianz League, it's hard to evaluate exactly where the Rebels are at.

The Leesiders had a poor league campaign, even allowing for the fact that they were minus the services of the Nemo Rangers contingent for most of it, and eventually stayed in Division 2 on score difference only.

Throw in the fact that they were beaten by both Tipperary and Clare and an argument could be made that the Rebels are now Munster's fourth best side.

Tipp will fancy their chances against them if (and probably when) they clash in the semi-final and why not? They missed out on promotion when losing by a point to Cavan in round seven of the league at Kingspan Breffni but with the likes of Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney up top, supported by Liam McGrath, their forward line is packed with quality operators.

Clare's attack is also dangerous but the loss of a couple of key defenders over the winter hampered them a little. They were highly competitive in the league (losing just twice) but the feeling is that they are on the 'wrong' side of the draw.

Waterford are building and showed very well against Cork last summer but it's hard to find any other line of form (they won just once in six Division 4 matches) suggesting they could topple Tipp in Thurles.

Limerick are in a similar predicament and will have to leave their poor form in the league's basement behind if they are to lower the Banner.

Can Kerry be got at? Well, in all four divisions of the National League, only winless Division 1 bottom side Kildare conceded more than Eamon Fitzmaurice's men in the league which must be cause for concern.

They may not be bullet-proof but, in this Munster Championship, they should be shock-proof.

Predictions:

Champions: Kerry

Runners-up: Tipperary

Odds (supplied by PaddyPower): Kerry 2/7, Cork 11/2, Tipperary 13/2, Clare 33/1, Limerick 250/1, Waterford 500/1

Fixtures:

May 19: Quarter-final: Limerick v Clare, Gaelic Grounds

May 19: Quarter-final: Tipperary v Waterford, Semple Stadium

May 26 or June 2: Semi-final: Cork v Tipperary/Waterford

June 3: Semi-final: Kerry v Clare/Limerick, Fitzgerald Stadium

June 23: Final



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