Preview: This weekend’s provincial hurling championship matches:
Saturday 20th May
Leinster SHC round 4
Kilkenny v Dublin, UPMC Nowlan Park, 6pm (GAAGO)
Paddy Deegan returns to the Kilkenny team after missing the first three rounds of the Championship and starts at midfield in place of Alan Murphy which is the only change to the team that defeated Antrim last time out.
In another boost for the Cats, Billy Drennan has also recovered from injury and is named in the panel for this game.
Dublin make two changes to the team that defeated Wexford last time out. Paul Crummey and Sean Currie have been rewarded for the form they showed as substitutes in that match and replace Alex Considine and Ronan Hayes in the full-forward line.
It’s ten years since Dublin defeated Kilkenny in the Leinster SHC, but they’re building nicely under manager Micheál Donoghue and will fancy a crack at the Cats on the back of their win over Wexford.
If they are to pull off a shock they’ll need an attack that tends to be overly reliant on Donal Burke to produce a stronger collective performance.
Kilkenny are averaging 33 points per match and with forwards like TJ Reid, Martin Keoghan, Adrian Mullen, Eoin Cody and Billy Ryan is such hot form at the moment will be hard to stop.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; David Blanchfield, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran; Adrian Mullen, Paddy Deegan; Tom Phelan, John Donnelly, Billy Ryan; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Eoin Cody. Subs: Aidan Tallis, Conor Delaney, Cillian Buckley, Padraig Walsh, Conor Fogarty, Alan Murphy, Timmy Clifford, Walter Walsh, Cian Kenny, Shane Walsh, Billy Drennan.
DUBLIN: Seán Brennan; Paddy Doyle, Eoghan O’Donnell, Paddy Smyth; Conor Donohoe, Conor Burke, Daire Gray; Mark Grogan, Chris O’Leary; Danny Sutcliffe, Donal Burke, Cian Boland; Sean Currie, Cian O’Sullivan, Paul Crummey. Subs: Eddie Gibbons, John Bellew, James Madden, Andy Dunphy, Darragh Power, Aidan Mellett, Alex Considine, Fergal Whitely, Dara Purcell, Joe Flanagan, Cian O’Boyle
Sunday 21st May
Munster SHC round 4
Clare v Cork, Cusack Park, Ennis, 2pm (RTE2)
A win for either team here will assure them of a place in the All-Ireland series so there’s a lot on the line.
Clare come into game in a rich vein of form after successive wins over Limerick and Clare and there’s a really formidable look about the team they’ve named for this match.
Aidan McCarthy returns to the team in place of Ian Galvin after missing the Waterford match through injury and adds another major threat to an already lethal looking Clare attack.
Cork have made four changes to the team that drew with Tipperary last time out with team captain Seán O’Donoghue making his first start of the championship in place of Ger Mellerick.
The other three changes see Luke Meade, Conor Cahalane, and Conor Lehane come in for Eoin Downey, Shane Barrett, and the injured Robbie O’Flynn.
The absence of O’Flynn is a big blow for Cork because his speed, power, and finishing ability gives them an extra dimension in attack.
The Rebels are still a work in progress under new manager Pat Ryan whereas Clare looked that bit more settled and potent. Their greater range of attacking weapons and home advantage could give them an edge here.
CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, David McInerney; David Fitzgerald, Cathal Malone; Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly, Aidan McCarthy; Ryan Taylor, Shane O’Donnell, Mark Rodgers. Subs: Eamonn Foudy, Cian Nolan, Ian Galvin, Shane Meehan, Aron Shanagher, Aaron Fitzgerald, Robin Mounsey, Paul Flanagan, Cian Galvin, Jack Kirwan, Seadna Morey.
CORK: Patrick Collins; Niall O’Leary, Damien Cahalane, Sean O’Donoghue; Tommy O’Connell, Ciaran Joyce, Robert Downey; Brian Roche, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Declan Dalton, Seamus Harnedy, Luke Meade; Conor Cahalane, Patrick Horgan, Conor Lehane. Subs: Ger Collins, Ger Millerick, Eoin Downey, Tim O’Mahoney, Ethan Twomy, Padraig Power, Alan Cadogan, Shane Kingston, Sean Twomey, Shane Barrett, Brian Hayes.
Tipperary v Limerick, FBD Semple Stadium, 4pm (RTE2)
Having lost their first championship match since 2019 against Clare, what sort of backlash can we expect from three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Limerick against Tipperary?
Considering the character and ability in their ranks, a ferocious one most likely.
They’ve had three weeks to process the disappointment of that Clare defeat and prepare for this match, and you can be sure that John Kiely and Paul Kinnerk will have their team primed for the challenge.
Tipperary will be determined to bring one to them, and come into this match in a very positive frame of mind after a win over Clare and a draw with Cork.
They’re playing a positive brand of attacking hurling but the fact they’ve conceded seven goals in two matches should be a cause of concern.
If they’re to get the better of Limerick they need to tighten up defensively and get their match-ups spot on.
The absence of their best forward, Jason Forde, through injury for the rest of the Munster campaign is a big blow for Tipperary, and he’ll be sorely missed here.
Manager Liam Cahill has made four changes to the team that drew with Cork, with Mark Kehoe replacing Forde, Rhys Shelly taking over in goals from Barry Hogan, Eoghan Connolly coming in for Johnny Ryan in defence, and Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher getting his first championship start since 2020.
It looks like a horses for courses selection with Tipperary determined to meet Limerick’s physicality head on.
When the teams met in the League Final Tipperary had the better of Limerick in the first-half but eventually wilted in the face of Limerick’s superior athleticism in the second half. They’ll need to fare better in that regard if they’re to pull of a surprise here.
TIPPERARY: Rhys Shelly; Cathal Barrett, Michael Breen, Ronan Maher; Eoghan Connolly, Bryan O’Mara, Seamus Kennedy; Dan McCormack, Alan Tynan; Conor Stakelum, Patrick Maher, Noel McGrath; Jake Morris, Gearoid O’Connor, Mark Kehoe. Subs: Barry Hogan, Conor Bowe, Seamus Callanan, John Campion, Pauric Campion, Joe Fogarty, Enda Heffernan, Brian McGrath, John McGrath, Johnny Ryan, Sean Ryan.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Mike Casey, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, William O’Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey. Subs: Jamie Power, Ciaran Barry, Conor Boylan, Colin Coughlan, Aaron Costelloe, Adam English, Graeme Mulcahy, Shane O’Brien, Cathal O’Neill, David Reidy.
Leinster SHC round 4
Galway v Antrim, Pearse Stadium, 2pm
Galway make four changes to the team that blitzed Westmeath last time out with Jack Grealish, Ronan Glennon, Conor Cooney, and Declan McLoughlin all coming into the team.
It’s a first championship start for McLoughlin who impressed against Westmeath as a substitute. Tom Monaghan also returns to the panel after injury.
Antrim also ring the changes to the side that lost last time out against Kilkenny with Tiernan Smyth, Stephen Rooney, Conor Boyd, Eoin O’Neill, and Domhnall Nugent all coming into the team.
Antrim have put up big scores in every match they’ve played in the championship, averaging 27 points per game in their matches against Dublin, Wexford, and Kilkenny.
It’s at the other end of the field where they have problems, having conceded an average of 34 points across the same three matches.
Clinical forwards like Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, and Evan Niland will likely take full advantage for Galway.
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Jack Grealish, Gearóid McInerney, Darren Morrissey; Padraic Mannion, Daithi Burke, Fintan Burke; Joseph Cooney, Cathal Mannion; Ronan Glennon, Evan Niland, Conor Cooney; Kevin Cooney, Conor Whelan, Declan McLoughlin. Subs: Darach Fahy, TJ Brennan, Adrian Tuohey, Jack Fitzpatrick, Seán Linnane, Cianan Fahy, Tom Monaghan, Donal O’Shea, Martin McManus, Liam Collins, Jamie Ryan
ANTRIM: Tiernan Smyth; Paddy Burke, Ryan McGarry, Stephen Rooney; Gerard Walsh, Conor Boyd, Niall O Connor; Keelan Molloy, James McNaughton; Eoin O’Neill, Conal Cunning, Domhnall Nugent; Rian McMullan, Niall McKenna, Conor Johnston. Subs: Ryan Elliott, Scott Walsh, Caolan McKernan, Enda Og McGarry, Paul Boyle, Seamie McAuley, Joe Maskey, Daniel McKernan, Michael Bradley, Eoin Trainor, Arron Bradley.
Wexford v Westmeath, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 3pm
Wexford’s hopes of qualifying for the All-Ireland series are hanging by a string after defeats to Galway and Dublin so nothing less than a win will do here.
They’ve made three changes to the team that were beaten by Dublin last time out, with Ian Carty, Conor McDonald, and Mikie Dwyer coming into the XV.
Manager Darragh Egan will be demanding more clinical finishing from his forwards after some poor shooting cost them badly in that loss to Dublin.
When these teams met in last year’s championship Westmeath caused a real surprise by holding the Slaneysiders to a draw, but shorn of some key players through injury they haven’t performed as well in this year’s campaign.
They’ve lost their three matches to date by an average of 23 points, so it’s hard to see them troubling Wexford as much this time around.
WEXFORD: James Lawlor; Shane Reck, Liam Ryan, Conor Devitt; Simon Donohoe, Matthew O’Hanlon, Ian Carty; Cathal Dunbar, Liam Óg McGovern; Jack O’Connor, Lee Chin, Oisin Foley; Rory O’Connor, Conor McDonald, Mikie Dwyer. Subs: Cian Byrne, Ross Banville, David Clarke, Kevin Foley, Conor Hearne, Rory Higgins, Richie Lawlor, Charlie McGuckin, Niall Murphy, Joe O’Connor, Diarmuid O’Keeffe
WESTMEATH: Noel Conaty; Darragh Egerton, Conor Shaw, Johnny Bermingham; Tommy Doyle, Aaron Craig, Robbie Greville; Shane McGovern, Charlie McCormack; Davy Glennon, Ciaran Doyle, Eoin Keyes; Owen McCabe, Joseph Boyle, Niall O’Brien. Subs: Conor Bracken, Niall Mitchell, Derek McNicholas, Cormac Boyle, Darragh Clinton, Gary Greville, Peter Clarke, David Williams, Shane Clavin, Kevin Regan, Jack Gillen.