Former kingpins Adare meet surprise packet Garryspillane in the opening game of Sundayâ€™s Limerick SHC semi-final double header.
ACCORDING to both managements, Adare and Garryspillane are in bonus territory ahead of their semi-final clash on Sunday at 2.00 in the Gaelic Grounds.
Adare could very well have been dumped out of the championship at the group stage, while there is no denying that holding off relegation was the primary goal for Garryspillane at the outset of the year.
â€œIf you told us we would be in a semi-final three or four months ago, we would have laughed,â€ said Garryspillane manager Anthony Oâ€™Brien.
But The Bouncers have progressed nicely with wins over Doon and Emmets, a drew with Effin and a loss to Patrickswell.
â€œThe players are fantastic - they could not do more. Their commitment, hunger and hurling is second to none,â€ outlined Oâ€™Brien, who is in his first year at the helm of the men in black and amber.
The bookies make Garryspillane the 2/1 outsiders to beat Adare and complete championship outsiders at 14/1.
â€œWe know we face a huge challenge with Adare and we will have to improve 20 or 30%. But we will be ready and all I ask of fellas is to go out and win their own battle,â€ said Oâ€™Brien.
He added: â€œThey are a team full of former and current county stars.â€
While Oâ€™Brien is the only remaining Limerick manager left in the race for the Daly Cup, Ger Oâ€™Loughlin returned for a second spell with Adare this season.
The former three-in-a-row winning manager said that 2012 was about â€œbuilding processâ€.
â€œWe rode out luck but we are getting stronger as the year goes on,â€ said Oâ€™Loughlin.
â€œWe were seven or eight players down on last year so we had to give young fellas their chance and we needed time to see where we could slot them in,â€ outlined the former Clare senior hurling manager.
Adare have a number of injury concerns with David Dillon and Conor Fitzgerald both carrying knocks.
Declan Hannon received a straight red card in Adareâ€™s quarter-final win over Patrickswell.
He appealed that decision this Wednesday night but wasnâ€™t successful and so misses Sundayâ€™s game.
â€œWe know that Sunday is going to be a challenge and we need to meet it head on. I havenâ€™t seen Garryspillane this season but I know them of old and we will have to be ready,â€ said Oâ€™Loughlin.
While admitted to teething problems on his return this season, the Clarecastle man said that there was now a â€œgreat buzz about the campâ€.
The young fellas like Jodie Hannon, Jeff Lohan and Lucas Oâ€™Brien are the future of Adare hurling. We have fellas like Conor Fitzgerald, Donnacha Sheehan, Aidan Oâ€™Rahilly and Stephen Lavin, who have soldiered for the last 10 years. It is great to have them around with the young lads and they will be vital on Sunday,â€ outlined Oâ€™Loughlin.
Prediction - Garryspillane