Preview: Weekend’s Hurling Championship action
For a preview of the Lory Meagher Cup final click here.
Saturday November 28
All Ireland SHC Semi-Final
Kilkenny v Waterford, Croke Park, 6pm
During the past couple of decades since Waterford returned to prominence a string of interesting encounters between the neighbours have unfolded.
Kilkenny’s Leinster success illustrated the enduring ability of Brian Cody’s team to eke out a positive result, regardless of circumstances.
Galway were motoring well, accumulating a five point lead which was wiped out in a minute by the wizardry of Richie Hogan and TJ Reid.
Suddenly Kilkenny were in the groove and the striped team are generally smart finishers down the home straight.
Waterford, though, have enjoyed a restorative campaign under the shrewd guidance of Liam Cahill, Mikey Bevans, and Stephen Frampton.
Two harrowing Munster campaigns in 2018 and 2019 hurt deeply so returning to the national stage is a source of significant encouragement.
The fact that Tadhg de Burca, Jamie Barron, Stephen Bennett, and Dessie Hutchinson are hurling effectively adds to Waterford’s sense of excitement.
Kilkenny, beaten in last year’s All Ireland decider, remain a most respected outfit with Cody on the line.
A new wave of talent has been integrated into the Kilkenny set-up in recent years and those players are delivering.
There is no shortage of guile and experience either with Padraig Walsh, Hogan, and Reid amongst those still seriously prominent.
This could be another thriller at the Jones Road venue.
Sunday November 29
All Ireland SHC Semi-Final
Limerick v Galway, Croke Park, 4pm
Intrigue surrounds Limerick’s collision with Galway on Sunday afternoon.
Undoubtedly Limerick are the form team, the three wins in Munster over Clare, Tipperary, and Waterford confirming John Kiely’s charges continue to set high standards.
Such a level of performance proved sufficient to earn the ultimate honour in 2018 when Declan Hannon hoisted the Liam MacCarthy Cup on a memorable August afternoon.
Limerick want to add further silverware to the collection and this Championship affords them an ideal opportunity.
Kyle Hayes has been recast back to the half back line forming a strong unit alongside Diarmuid Byrnes and Declan Hannon.
Cian Lynch’s creative skills and influence will never be underestimated, while in attack Kiely has no shortage of options.
Aaron Gillane is prolific and capable of winning possession inside with Graeme Mulcahy and Peter Casey capable of mining scores.
Gearoid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey’s value to the Limerick cause is vast.
Galway will bring similar traits to Croke Park on Sunday with Shane O’Neill making an impact in the west.
Obviously the Leinster final conclusion was a setback, but Aidan Harte’s late goal at the LIT Gaelic Grounds sealed a fine quarter-final triumph over Tipperary.
Daithi Burke, the Mannions, Joe Canning, and the splendid Conor Whelan will spearhead Galway’s challenge.
So many potential match-ups exist. Sean Finn v Whelan; Burke v Gillane; Joseph Cooney v Hegarty. There will be many more too. That is why this game should be monitored from the first whistle until last. The 2018 decider showed that. Limerick were deserving winners on that occasion, but a late Galway flurry was nearly rewarded.
Saturday November 28
Joe McDonagh Cup
Meath v Antrim, Pairc Tailteann, 1pm
It has been a hugely encouraging stint for Antrim under Darren Gleeson.
The Saffrons know that a victory in Navan will nudge them into the Joe McDonagh Cup Final.
That is a considerable prize for Antrim, who have been forced to line out minus talisman Neil McManus in recent weeks.
Ciaran Clarke has scored heavily for Antrim, who defeated Kerry in the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A Final.
Kerry have already qualified for the Joe McDonagh showpiece, and Antrim will be ager to join them.
Meath have endured three losses in a row during a disappointing campaign, but they will be hoping to summon a spirited display on home turf.
MEATH: Charlie Ennis; Sean Geraghty, Shane Brennan, Michael Burke; Shane Whitty, Darragh Kelly, Ben McGowan; Alan Douglas, Padraic O’Hanrahan; James Kelly, Stephen Morris, Daithi McGowan; Patrick Conneely, Keith Keoghan, Jack Walsh.
Westmeath v Carlow, TEG Cusack Park, 1pm
The margin for error in the Joe McDonagh Cup is slim so Carlow left Tralee nursing plenty of regrets last weekend.
Fintan O’Connor’s Kerry are making strides, but Carlow just couldn’t get the victory that they required.
Now Carlow want to conclude the group stages with a victory and hope that Meath cause a surprise against Antrim.
Westmeath overcame Meath following two losses and it has been a disappointing spell for them considering how close they came to earning glory in this competition previously