Dan Morrissey of Limerick and Clare’s Shane O’Donnell during the Munster game at Ennis on April 21. [Inpho/James Crombie]

Limerick for 6 in Munster

This has been a good year for hurling, especially in Munster. Unlike Leinster where the strong hurling counties are well spread out among the 12 counties and include Galway, in Munster the five strong hurling counties are located close together and equally matched. The competition is intense, with often only the puck of a sliotar between Clare, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. Only Kerry play in the second-tier Joe McDonagh Cup. 

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Down through the decades Munster hurling final day in Thurles has been the mecca for hurling aficionados not just from Munster, but from all over the country. Recently the Munster GAA made a decision to rotate the venue for the final and I suppose it’s appropriate that a new rota starts in Semple Stadium on Sunday when Limerick, bidding to become the first county to win the MacCarthy Cup five years in a row, will play Clare. When the counties met in the first round of the Munster Round Robin in Ennis on April 21 Clare built up a big lead, but Limerick came back to win the game by three points. 

Limerick are also on course to win the Munster final for the sixth year in a row. Limerick is famous for rugby and I have said before that this group of the county’s hurlers remind me of rugby players: they are so strong and fit and of course skilful also. But they can be beaten and they did lose to Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh a few weeks back. Clare haven’t won a Munster final since 1998 and I fancy Limerick to make it six on Sunday. It would also be a sixth win for manager John Kiely and he would equal the record held by Cork-born manager Justin McCarthy, who won six finals with Cork and Waterford.

I suppose it’s fitting that the Leinster hurling final between Kilkenny and Dublin will be played in Croke Park on Saturday evening, as a curtain-raiser for the Munster final, as the Round Robin system in Leinster has not been as competitive as it was in the southern province. The only shock in Leinster was Galway’s elimination after they were beaten by Dublin in Salthill 10 days ago. Kilkenny are known as the Cats and traditionally they have been the “top cats” in Leinster with 75 titles, but younger readers may not realize that it’s Dublin with 24 wins, who are second in the Leinster roll of honor and not Wexford, who have won the Leinster final 21 times. 



The Dublin County Board are working hard to promote hurling in the city and county and have brought in various managers to try and get the Dubs to the next level; the current manager is Micheal O’Donoghue, who managed his native Galway when they won the McCarthy Cup in 2017, so he knows what’s needed for success. Dublin have been close in recent years, but it 11 years since they won the Bob O’Keeffe Cup and Kilkenny will probably start as favorites to make it 76 Leinster wins.

The Leinster hurling final will throw-in at 6 p.m. and it will be preceded by the Joe McDonagh Cup final between Laois and Offaly, which starts at 3.30 p.m.


Former Kerry footballer Tomás O Sé, who is now managing the Kerry under 20 team, feels changes need to made to the Sam Maguire Cup competition to bring back the crowds. A few years back Dublin supporters could fill Croke Park on their own, but with very little at stake in recent games attendances have dropped dramatically in the Round Robin series with only 11,176 paying in to see Dublin beat Roscommon at Croke Park two weeks back. 

O Sé said: ‘‘Flagging football attendance could be could be boosted by ensuring the first round winners in the group stages of the All-Ireland football championship meet in the second round. This would also reduce the number of dead rubbers in the third and final round. Once again Ulster is the only province getting decent crowds. 

“There was a game in Killarney a few weeks back when Kerry played Monaghan and there with a shocking poor crowd at it, the same with Dublin against Roscommon. There is a fix for it. The GAA need to back off, bow the head and let whoever wins the first two games meet each other in the second round. Then we would get a real championship feel to it. There is not a championship feel to games that are happening right now.’’ 

Roscommon manager Davy Burke questioned why their Round Robin game against Dublin was played in Croke Park. He said: “ Why is Croke Park open today. It didn’t need to be open. The game could have been played in Tullamore or  Parnell Park, where you would have got a much better atmosphere.’’

Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher. [Inpho/Ryan Byrne]



Cork-born goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher says that, off the back of his impressive run in goal for Liverpool in the season just ended, his ambition is now to establish himself as a first-choice goalkeeper, whether that be at Liverpool or elsewhere. Speaking to the Athletic last week, Kelleher said: ‘‘I got the taste for it and I want to do it all the time. My main ambition is to be a No. 1. It would be great if that happened at Liverpool, but I’m not silly. I know that Alisson has been the best goalkeeper in the world for years. I love the club, I love the fans and I have a great relationship with the players and the staff. Whether it’s here at Liverpool or somewhere else, I do feel the next step for me is to be a No 1.’’ 

Kelleher , who is 25, also revealed that he had a heart-to-heart with Jurgen Klopp last summer in which he told the Liverpool manager he needed to kick on for his career. Klopp convinced him to stay, for fear of bad fortune befalling Alisson. The German  has now left Anfield but there is no hint that Alisson Becker will be doing likewise any time soon. As long as Alisson is at Liverpool, it’s unlikely that Kelleher will wrestle his way into the team. Kelleher started the friendly against Belgium at the end of March, but John O’Shea brought back Gavin Bazunu for the game against Switzerland. Since then Bazunu injured his Achilles tendon, while warming up for a Southampton game and could out of action until 2025.



Kerry are on the lookout for a new senior hurling manager as current manager Waterford-born Stephen Molumphy, a member of the armed forces, is moving to the Continent. He said: ‘‘Basically I am being reposted to the EU military staff in Brussels. We are going there for a year. I will be working with other international officers that are based in Brussels. The family get to come also.’’ Kerry’s season is over as they finished third in the Joe McDonagh Cup competition. 



The GAA has moved to reinforce the rule which precludes victorious minor hurling and football captains from making acceptance speeches. The rule was introduced in 2010 to relieve the burden of public oration from players of 17 and 18 years of age, but it was not enforced strictly in recent years.  Fourteen years ago the GAA’s National Awards and Presentation Committee, which was chaired at the time by current GAA president Jarlath Burns, put forward a recommendation that the practice of minor winning captains making speeches should cease. Back then minor grade was under 18, but it has since changed to under 17.



The International Boxing Association will offer prize money to all those who become Olympic champions and medallists at this year’s Paris Games. The boxing body is not organizing the boxing tournament at the Paris Olympics after it was stripped of recognition by the International Olympic Committee last year. The IOC will again be in charge of boxing in Paris, as it was at Tokyo 2020 amid concerns over the IBA’s finance, governance, ethics, refereeing and judging. The IOC said it had “taken note” of the IBA’s announcement.



Former Kerry footballer Bryan Sheehan says that that the mooted proposal of awarding two points for a long-range score would help to change how the Gaelic football is played and coached in a positive manner. The Football Review Committee, headed by former Dublin manager Jim Gavin, are understood to be tinkering with the idea of long-distance scores being rewarded with two points, rather than the usual one. 

Sheehan, who was a brilliant long-distance kicker in his days with Kerry,  said: ‘‘You would be encouraging footballers to be able to kick the ball over the bar because if I’m being honest, we are training athletes to play football rather than footballers to play football. In my opinion what has happened is that we have athletes that can cover so much ground and we can hand-pass the ball all day and we can get up and down the field all day and we can tackle and get turnovers. But how many inter-county footballers can kick the ball over the bar from 35 or 40 yards? There are only a handful of players in the whole country that could possibly do it on a consistent basis.’’