Munster SHC preview: Tipp to shade it

May 18, 2018

Waterford's Kevin Moran, Limerick's Declan Hannon, Cork's Seamus Harnedy, Clare's Pat O'Connor and Niall O'Meara of Tipperary at the launch of the 2018 Munster senior hurling championship.
©INPHO/Morgan Treacy.

Arguably the most eulogised showpiece event in Irish sport, the Munster final, will go ahead on July 1st once more, preceded by 10 clashes between some of the best hurling sides in the country.

And that, folks, is about all we can say with absolute certainty about the mouth-watering Munster senior hurling championship which is about to throw in.

The new-look, novel format will extend the most keenly contested of provincial hurling championships and should see the best side in it - or, possibly, the one with the deepest squad - get their hands on the silverware.

Winning home games will be key and, on the face of it, that should hinder Waterford, whose grounds are not sufficient to host matches of this magnitude. However, last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists adore the famed amphitheatre of hurling that is Semple Stadium so playing some of their 'home' matches there may not in actual fact inconvenience the Déise all that much.

Teasing out the answer to this riddle is not easy. A case could be made for all five sides, which is reflected in the betting - were this a horse race, the metaphor of throwing a blanket over the field as they approach the finish line looks apt here.

Reigning champions Cork have been installed as second favourites but while they were highly competitive throughout the league, it's hard to look past the fact that they have won just once - the relegation play-off against Waterford - since beating Kilkenny by a goal on January 27th.

Limerick were brilliant in Division 1B and will be battle-hardened after going to extra time against Clare (winning in sudden death) and Tipp (losing 2-31 to 1-31) in the league quarter-final and semi-final, respectively.

The Banner themselves will feel they have under-achieved hugely in Munster and the feeling is that they will have their sights aligned on the provincial title this year. Their opener against Cork on Leeside and home clash with Waterford a week later, then, will be absolutely crucial in building momentum.

Whatever way we look at it, though, it comes back to Tipp. If they light it up the way they did in 2015 and 2016 in this competition, it's hard to see them being beaten, especially with the talismanic Seamus Callanan chomping at the bit again and the peerless early season form of sharp-shooter Jason Forde.

Predictions:

Champions: Tipperary

Runners-up: Clare

Odds (supplied by PaddyPower): Tipperary 6/5, Cork 4/1, Waterford 5/1, Limerick 11/2, Clare 6/1

Fixtures:

May 20: Round 1: Cork v Clare, Pairc Ui Chaoimh

May 20: Round 1: Limerick v Tipperary, Gaelic Grounds

May 27: Round 2: Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium

May 27: Round 2: Clare v Waterford, Cusack Park

June 2: Round 3: Cork v Limerick, Pairc Ui Chaoimh

June 3: Round 3: Waterford v Tipperary, Gaelic Grounds

June 10: Round 4: Limerick v Waterford, Gaelic Grounds

June 10: Round 4: Tipperary v Clare, Semple Stadium

June 17: Round 5: Clare v Limerick, Cusack Park

June 17: Round 5: Waterford v Cork, Semple Stadium

July 1: Final

Stay up-to-date with this weekend's football and hurling championship action on our Match Tracker where we will be bringing live updates and scores from around the grounds.



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