Limerick's William O’Donoghue, left, and David Fitzgerald of Clare during the Munster final at Semple Stadium on June 9, which Limerick won 1-26 to 1-20.

Limerick, Clare look likeliest to contest hurling final on July 21

By 6 p.m. on Sunday evening next we should know the identity of the two counties who will compete in this year’s All-Ireland senior hurling final on July 21. Also over the weekend in Croke Park spectators will get an opportunity to see two of greatest scorers in the history of hurling, T.J. Reid of Kilkenny and Cork’s Pat Horgan. The two forwards are currently tied on 699 points and it’s possible that neither of them will make the final – if Clare beat Kilkenny and Cork succumb to Limerick – so it could be a shoot-out at GAA headquarters on Saturday and Sunday to see who be top going into 2025, assuming both players decide to continue at inter-county level. Horgan was 36 in May, while Reid will be 37 in November. 

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Hurling aficionados will claim that stars like Christy Ring and Mick Mackey were the greatest of all time. It’s difficult to compare as in the halcyon days of Ring and Mackey the championship was a proper knock out; also the sliotars are lighter nowadays, which makes point scoring easier. Two weeks ago Horgan scored 10 points for Cork as they beat Dublin in the quarter final in Thurles to equal Reid as the all-time championship’s top scorer on 699 points. Reid’s last game for Kilkenny was the Leinster final win over Dublin where he scored 2-6. 

On Saturday Clare and Kilkenny meet in the semi-final for the third year in a row. The Cats won by three points last year and by 12 points in 2022. I like the way Clare are playing this year and I think forwards like Tony Kelly and Shane O’Donnell can get the vital scores for the Banner. On Sunday Limerick will probably start as favourites to put an end to Cork’s good run. When the counties met in the 3rd round of the Munster Championship Round Robin at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on May 11 Cork rejuvenated their season with a two-point win and then the Rebels went on to beat Tipperary in the 4th round to secure a place in the All-Ireland series.  Meanwhile Limerick re-grouped and beat Waterford to set up a Munster final meeting with Clare which they won. Now Limerick manager John Kiely and his team are only 70 minutes away from an opportunity to become the first county to win the MacCarthy Cup five years in-a-row. I’m going for a Clare-Limerick final.

The days of playing the All-Ireland minor finals as curtain raisers to the senior finals at Croke Park are gone, for now at least. On Sunday Armagh will play Derry in this year’s All-Ireland minor football in Healy Park, Omagh.



England midfielder Declan Rice says James McClean’s criticism of him may come from ‘‘bitterness towards me not playing for Ireland.’’

McClean made headlines as a pundit on RTE two weeks back when describing his former international team-mate as “overrated” and “not world class” after two unimpressive displays for England at Euro 2024. Rice won three caps for Ireland in friendlies back in 2018, when he was a team-mate of McClean, before switching international allegiance to his native England. 

Rice said: ‘‘Do you know what? I played with James for Ireland for three games and I got on with him really well. I am not going to sit here and slag him off. I thought he was a really top guy. When I left Ireland to come to England, I heard a few things he was obviously not happy about. He made comments a few years ago. But it is what it is. I am not going to sit here and say anything about him.’’



Roy Keane revealed in a recent podcast that he turned down an offer from Real Madrid after falling out with former manager Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. Speaking on a podcast that he co-hosts with other former footballers, Keane said: ‘‘When I left United I went up to Celtic, but I could have gone to Real Madrid for a year and half. It was a bit emotional, which is fine. I don’t mind having to make those kinds of decisions. But I was 34, I just thought ‘Would I go to Real and have an impact?’’ Keane joined Celtic in December 2005, making just 13 appearances due to injury, before retiring.



The Irish Sevens Rugby teams now know who their opponents will be at the Paris Olympics this year. The men’s team who finished second overall in this year’s SYNS series, have been drawn in Pool A along with top seeds New Zealand, Japan and South Africa. Meanwhile the women’s team, who will compete in their first-ever Olympics have been drawn in Pool B with 2016 Rio Olympic champions Australia, Great Britain and South Africa.


Shamrock Rovers begin their European campaign away to Icelandic club Vikingur on Tuesday next. The Vikingsvollur Stadium has a capacity of  just 1,000 and Rovers are only entitled to five per cent which is 50 tickets. The second leg will be played in Tallaght Stadium on July 16, with the winners facing Sparta Prague in the second qualifying round.



Former Mayo footballer Andy Moran reckons that Kevin McStay will continue as Mayo football manager for another year and that long-serving Aidan O’Shea will not retire from inter-county football. Moran, who is now the Leitrim senior football manager, said: ‘’I don’t think Kevin will walk away and anyway he got a four-year term when he was appointed in August 2022. Moran also expects O'Shea, who made his senior debut in 2009, to extend his county career into a 17th season when next year rolls around. He said: I don't think there is any question about Aidan not coming back. There may be one or two others that you would be more worried about. When I was playing I had the advantage that I never relied on pace when I got a bit older, Aidan is much the same. He was never going to be the fastest player in the world. He was outstanding last week against Derry two weeks back.’’



Aidan O’Brien won the Irish Derby for the 16th time on Sunday when Los Angeles, who was third behind stable-mate City of Troy in the English Derby, held off Epsom runner-up Ambient Friendly. The 13-8 second-favourite held off a trio of English rivals under Ryan Moore to win the €1.25 million classic by three-parts of a length. Los Angeles reversed form with the Epsom runner-up Ambiente Friendly, who briefly headed him in the straight only to eventually fade to third. Instead, it was the 16-1 outsider Sunway that filled the runner-up slot, while Matsuri finishing fourth after a troubled passage up the straight. After the race the Tipperary-based trainer O’Brien said: ‘‘We think Los Angeles will get better. He is a big hardy horse. He looks like he is a baby, but he was Group One winner at two years as well and he keeps progressing.’’