Sunday 22 September 2019

Limerick and Rebels look set to serve up a feast of scoring

Cork manager John Meyler. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cork manager John Meyler. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

It's safe to make one prediction about Limerick v Cork - it will be a high-scoring game.

They produced 54 scores (Cork 1-25 Limerick 0-28) in last year's Munster round-robin, 56 (1-27 each) in normal time in the All-Ireland semi-final, and a further 12 in extra-time (Cork 2-5 Limerick 1-4).

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It was Cork 2-21 Limerick 1-21 in the Allianz League in February, so when the three games are averaged out it stands at Cork 2-25 Limerick 1-28.

Despite their apparent closeness, Limerick are 8/15 and Cork 2/1, odds heavily influenced by events outside their direct rivalry.

Reigning All-Ireland champions always begin their title defence with confidence, all the more so in Limerick's case after their great start to 2019.

Everything has gone to plan for them and if their own progressive regime wasn't enough to send them into the championship in the best of spirits, Cork's travails against Tipperary last Sunday will have been noted too.

It has convinced Limerick supporters that all the aces are in John Kiely's hand, even if he's warning that danger lurks all around the LIT Gaelic Grounds.

"The Munster championship is very evenly balanced - any team can beat another other on a given day," he said.

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He also tossed in a reminder of Cork's win over Limerick in the league.

Reflection

"That's a reflection of what can happen when the standard of your performance dips. You'll be punished by these teams - that's the way it is," he said.

The main body of evidence makes a stronger case for Limerick, but there are risks. Oddly enough, they come from the circumstances surrounding Cork's defeat by Tipperary.

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John Meyler gave a clear indication of where the focus would be in a week which could define their season.

"Tipperary were more fluent, sharper, more mobile. Their support play was better than us. They looked extremely hungry too," he said.

Fluency, mobility and support issues can be worked on in training but hunger? Why were Tipp more driven than Cork? It's a question Meyler will have asked his players, probably in very forceful terms, this week.

It's difficult enough to win championship games without being beaten in the motivation stakes, so presumably Cork will be a much more driven force tomorrow.

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Their good record against Limerick will encourage them, especially if they settle quickly and get a good rhythm going.

There's always a tendency to over-estimate the impact of one result, so inevitably Cork's stock has dropped in value since last Sunday.

However, it may not be as serious as some would have you believe. They are still a very potent force, capable of improving as the season goes on.

For now though, they may have to cope with a second defeat before re-grouping for a shot at a third-place finish in Munster.

Irish Independent

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