SHC previews: Munster race kicks off

May 18, 2018

A bumper crowd is expected to attend the Gaelic Grounds for the Munster SHC round 1 clash between Limerick and Tipperary.

The eagerly awaited and newly formatted Munster senior hurling championship gets underway this weekend, while it's Round 2 in the race for the Bob O'Keeffe Cup. Here are our previews:

 

Sunday, May 20th

Leinster SHC round 2

Kilkenny v Offaly, Nowlan Park, 3pm

Kilkenny came through a battle with Dublin by the skin of their teeth last weekend and must face Offaly once more this season in a bid to pick up their second win in the space of a week.

When these two met the Monday after St Patrick's Day it was the Cats that were made come through a battle in Tullamore to secure their league semi-final berth, with TJ Reid's contribution of 0-12 on the day again proving salient.

This time Brian Cody's charges are welcoming the Faithful to their own home turf and, as a result, are a whopping 1/50 favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers.

Offaly have made inroads during Kevin Martin's first season in charge and keeping in contention for long stages against holders Galway last weekend illustrates that as well as anything.

That said, it's still hard to see them upsetting the odds against Leinster's kingpins here.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Wexford v Dublin, Innovate Wexford Park, 3pm

Davy Fitzgerald's Wexford side embark on the Bob O'Keeffe Cup race this weekend with intentions of going one further than last year's final defeat to Galway.

Up first is a home test against Dublin and given the capital men's showing against Kilkenny last time out this has all the right ingredients to develop into a cracker.

To no real surprise, Fitzgerald has talked up the Model County's recent poor record against the Dubs but his side still head into this one as justifiable 1/3 favourites.

The form of Lee Chin for the Slayneysiders these last 12 months has been nothing short of sublime, while you can add in Rory O'Connor and Conor McDonald, a couple more potent weapons in their arsenal.

Pat Gilroy isn't short of attacking options either, with both Conal Keaney and Liam Rushe catching the eye in last weekend's late loss at Parnell Park, while further out the field captain Chris Crummey began his championship campaign with an exhibition display in defeat.

Verdict: Wexford

Munster SHC round 1

Limerick v Tipperary, Gaelic Grounds, 2pm - RTE

This derby returns to the Gaelic Grounds and if it lives up to anything close to their last meeting then fans at the Limerick venue should brace themselves for another electric atmosphere and quite a treat.

Jason Forde's goal-scoring touch proved the difference in the league semi-final meeting which went to extra time at Semple Stadium, but this time it's the Shannonsiders that boast home advantage.

Nonetheless they remain 2/1 outsiders and those odds are probably justified when you consider that Tipp will have added star forward Seamus Callanan to their plans since that epic battle in Thurles at the end of March.

The lethal threat of Forde and Callanan up front could well be deployed from the start by Michael Ryan, with the latter said to be in top form for his club Drom & Inch since returning from injury, and the Treaty men's defence will need to figure out a way to thwart those two assassins if indeed they are to start alongside one another.

As for the other end, Aaron Gillane and Seamus Flanagan have been the two key men in attack for Limerick thus far in 2018 and both are in line to make their first Munster SHC starts, while Kyle Hayes is another exceptional talent to come off the county's splendid U21 conveyor belt.

Verdict: Tipperary

Cork v Clare, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 4pm - RTE

A repeat of last year's Munster final and it's hard to predict which way this one's going to go off the back of these two teams' league form in the spring.

Clare started their Division 1A campaign well but ended up hanging on to avoid the same relegation battle which Cork won to demote Waterford.

Therefore the bookmakers make this a tight enough one to call, with the defending champions at 4/6 and the Banner men at 13/8.

Many will fancy the visitors at that price and why not? On their day, the likes of Peter Duggan, Podge Collins and Shane O'Donnell can inflict fatal damage on any defence in the country.

The Rebels will be all too well aware of that, having been downed by the Banner back in February, but with a couple of bodies back for them a tighter affair looks in store on Leeside.

Verdict: Draw

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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