This month’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final will be a repeat of last year’s fixture when defending champions Limerick take on Kilkenny in Croke Park.
In a neck-and-neck encounter, Limerick won out the 2022 iteration by two points and will be attempting to join a very exclusive club of teams who have won four successive All-Ireland senior hurling titles or the much-fabled “four-in-a-row”. Kilkenny were the last side to achieve that honour between the 2006 and 2009 campaigns with Cork the only other side with a “four-in-a-row” stretching back to the early 1940s.
Now, it’s Limerick’s turn to attempt a similar feat while Kilkenny will are still trying to bring Liam McCarthy back to the Marble City for the first time since 2015. They have lost three finals since then – in 2016 and 2019, both to Tipperary, and the last July’s encounter with Limerick.
Limerick, who are back in the final for the fifth time in six seasons, last reached successive four successive All-Ireland finals in 1936. They won in 1934 and 1936, losing the 1933 and 1935 finals.
Third time’s a charm?
Kilkenny and Limerick have already met in the Allianz National Hurling League final this year, Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh providing the backdrop as Limerick ran out 2-20 to 0-15 winners, a scoreline that could have been much wider but for some poor shooting on Limerick’s side. However, despite the Treaty coming out on top in their last two meetings, Limerick manager John Kiely knows how tough of a challenge this battle will be.
“That’s our third final meeting each other now. It’s great to have that clarity, knowing exactly what we’ve got to do in the next couple of weeks. It’ll be a very tough challenge for us, but one that we’re looking forward to over the next two weeks”, Kiely told Limerick’s Live 95 at Monday’s media night .
Limerick ran out easy winners over Henry Shefflin’s Galway in the semi-finals last weekend while Kilkenny had three points to spare in an absorbing win over Clare. The Treaty boss was impressed by the resolve shown by the Cats to see out the victory against Clare, particularly just after halftime, and reserved special praise for Eoin Murphy’s dramatic save.
“Their response to that challenge that came from Clare, being super, super pushed by Clare, and that 15 minutes really asked a lot of questions and it was a great response to them. That’s a warning or us to, bear that in mind and have that in the back of our mind, that response is there and that they have that capacity.”
Has to be one of the GREATEST saves I have EVER seen. Eoin Murphy the Best Goalie in the Country by some distance. pic.twitter.com/BXZFJONKLq
“15 minutes into the second half, there’s a lot of questions asked and they responded with all the answers that they needed and, you know, possibly could have seen out the game a little bit easier in the last five minutes, but yeah, fantastic save, absolutely. It’s an incredible save.”
Accuracy & hard work
During last year’s corresponding fixture, it was Brian Cody on the sidelines for Kilkenny and now with Derek Lyng leading the charge this year and the Cats finding themselves back in Croke Park for one last roll of the dice, Kiely was asked if he noticed any differences in the Kilkenny team. For the Galbally native, it is not something he has thought about.
“I haven’t thought about it like that to be honest with you. From a team perspective, they have a lot of the qualities, they’re an incredibly hard-working team, they’re a very accurate team, very efficient and they have an instinct for goal and I think you could probably have said that of the last 25 years, really, couldn’t you?”