Limerick’s potential hurling Qualifier opponents

With Limerick just one game from the All Ireland quarter-finals, Jerome O’Connell looks at their potential opponents in the next round of the hurling Qualifiers.

With Limerick just one game from the All Ireland quarter-finals, Jerome O’Connell looks at their potential opponents in the next round of the hurling Qualifiers.

CORK

While Croke Park officials are likely to push for a double-header in Thurles on Saturday July 14, a potential clash with The Rebels appears the only chance that Limerick could have for another ‘home’ game in the Gaelic Grounds, with Limerick GAA officials muting the possibility of a home and away agreement.

Although the counties last met in the 2010 Munster championship, Justin McCarthy’s understrength side never really troubled Cork. Prior to that the sides met in the All-Ireland quarter-final of 2006 in Thurles when Cork were 0-19 to 0-18 winners over Richie Bennis’ Limerick.

A clash against the Jimmy Barry Murphy managed Leesiders would rekindle memories of last summer’s epic U-21 final with nine of the current Limerick panel involved that night.

OFFALY

Limerick met Offaly in this season’s league and a last gasp penalty from The Faithful County snatched a 4-10 to 2-16 draw in the Gaelic Grounds.

Both sides have changed much since that encounter with Offaly boosted by the return of the Coolderry contingent that reached the All-Ireland club final.

In championship battles Offaly won three of the four clashes in the last decade.

The Ollie Baker-managed side beat Wexford and lost to Galway in the Leinster championship.

Offaly have to travel to Pairc Ui Chaoimh this Saturday evening (7.00) and have been ranked as 11/2 outsiders against the 1/10 hot favourites.

CLARE

Limerick and Clare have met four times this season already - two times in the Allianz League and twice in the Waterford Crystal Cup.

And, Limerick are yet to beat the Davy Fitzgerald managed Bannermen.

For that reason, Limerick would need very little motivation for a rematch with Clare.

With another joust between the Shannonside neighbours likely to attract a bumper attendance, Thurles would appear the likely venue if the men in Saffron and Blue are to be Limerick’s next opponents.

But Clare have to overcome Dublin first and although they have home advantage in Cusack Park in Ennis for Saturday’s televised clash on TV3, its The Dubs that are the favourites with the bookies.

Clare ran Waterford close in the Munster championship and much interest will centre on their team selection for Saturday with Brian O’Connell, Darach Honan and Tony Kelly all pushing for first starts of the year.

DUBLIN

Anthony Daly’s side were easily cast aside by Kilkenny in the Leinster championship and will surely have some kick-back this Saturday against Clare.

A defeat for The Dubs in Ennis could spell the end for Anthony Daly as their manager.

Limerick and Dublin met at the quarter-final stage last season in Thurles with a Ryan O’Dwyer hat-trick of goals sending the Donal O’Grady managed Limerick out of the championship. Former Limerick hurler Maurice O’Brien is still part of the Dublin panel but appears to have slipped down the pecking order this season with long term injury victim; Conal Keaney, Tomas Brady, Stephen Hiney, Joey Boland and David Treacy all returning.