Wednesday 17 July 2019

Limerick well placed to extend success of 1B teams

Limerick manager John Kiely. Photo: Sportsfile
Limerick manager John Kiely. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

A story with a moral - don't drop out of hurling's top flight because it can be mighty hard to get back.

It took Wexford six years and Limerick eight years to return to 1A and now Galway are booked into 1B for a third season in 2018.

Their defeat by Limerick in the 1B promotion shoot-out has seen them drop to third favourites for the league title outright behind Tipperary and Kilkenny, although that's influenced by having a tougher quarter-final (v Wexford) than the other two (v Dublin and Offaly respectively).

John Kiely's charges were more sure-footed than Galway at the four fences leading up the last round, where they certainly appeared to have a fitness edge in the second half last Sunday.

But then Limerick looked sharp right from the start of the Munster League in January and have now hit their first target for the season.

Question is - how many more to come this year?

Limerick are very definitely on the rise and with Na Piarsaigh's players to return to the panel after the All-Ireland club final, there will be real depth to the panel. That will be more vital than ever in the four-game Munster championship.

With the last three league winners (Waterford, Clare and Galway) all coming from 1B, Limerick have a decent chance of extending that run, something they haven't managed since 1997.

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Cork, who are now facing a 1A relegation play-off with Waterford, haven't won the league since 1998 while Tipperary's last win was 10 years ago. Like getting out of 1B, winning the title is harder than it might appear.

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