Preview: All-Ireland SHC semi-final – Limerick v Cork:

Sunday 7th July

All-Ireland SHC semi-final
Limerick v Cork in Croke Park at 4pm – RTE/BBC

Limerick must do without influential defender Barry Nash for Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Cork with the South Liberties man ruled out by a hamstring injury.

The reigning champions have a more than adequate replacement though in the shape of four-time All-Star Sean Finn who comes in to the full-back line.

He’s one of two changes to the side that beat Clare in the Munster SHC Final with a fit-again Séamus Flanagan coming in for Shane O’Brien who makes way despite his excellent performance in that match.

John Kiely surely agonised over that decision, but Flanagan’s experience and the fact that he scored 3-3 from play when Limerick played Cork in the round robin phase of the Munster SHC would have been major points in his favour.

You can be sure that O’Brien will have a part to play from the bench, as will fellow young attackers Adam English and Donnacha Ó Dálaigh.

Cork make one change to the team that defeated Dublin in the quarter-final two weeks ago with a fit again Robert Downey coming into the team at centre-back.

His inclusion sees Ciarán Joyce move from centre-back to midfield with Luke Meade dropping to the bench.

Cork, famously, were triumphant when the teams met on May 11, a win that breathed life into a campaign that looked dead after defeats to Waterford and Clare.

Since then the Rebels have strung three more wins together and have bedded down a settled team for the first time in a number of years.

They weren’t hugely impressive in their last two games against Offaly and Dublin, but it’s no harm to be coming into this match as underdogs and with room for improvement.

They troubled Limerick with their pace and movement two months ago, and shifting that Limerick half-back line out of position and exploiting the space behind them will be crucial to their hopes of causing an upset.

If Limerick play to their full potential they could win this game comfortably enough, but the longer Cork remain in the contest the more their confidence will grow.

They have good options from the bench too in the shape of players like Shane Kingston, Robbie O’Flynn, and Luke Meade, so if the Rebels are still in the game coming into the final quarter they’ll fancy their chances.

Limerick tend to really take off when they get to Croke Park in any given year and have the art of peaking again after a four-week break down to a fine art, so it’s hard to see their drive for five All-Ireland finals in a row veering off the road here.

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Mike Casey; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Will O’Donoghue, Cathal O’Neill; Gearóid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, David Reidy. Subs: Jason Gillane, Conor Boylan, Colin Coughlan, Adam English, Richie English, Graeme Mulcahy, Shane O’Brien, Aidan O’Connor, Fergal O’Connor, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh, Darragh O Donovan.

CORK: Patrick Collins; Niall O’Leary, Eoin Downey, Sean O’Donoghue; Tim O’Mahony, Robert Downey, Mark Coleman; Ciarán Joyce, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Declan Dalton, Shane Barrett, Seamus Harnedy; Patrick Horgan, Alan Connolly, Brian Hayes. Subs: Brion Saunderson, Damien Cahalane, Ger Mellerick, Tommy O’Connell, Luke Meade, Ethan Twomey, Conor Lehane, Jack O’Connor, Shane Kingston, Padraig Power, Robbie O’ Flynn.