Calculators are at the ready as Tipperary face Limerick in the fourth and final round of this year’s Munster Senior Hurling championship at Semple Stadium next Sunday.
It’s the game many people are looking forward to but they could be disappointed as there could be a temptation for either team to shadowbox with bigger prizes up for grabs in the weeks ahead.
Meanwhile there is another game played in Cusack Park, Ennis when Clare play host to Cork. Both sides require a win but a win for Clare could well become redundant if Limerick overcome Tipp.
The current situation is as follows. Tipperary have three wins and a scoring difference of plus 38; Cork have four points and a scoring difference of plus 13 while Limerick have the same points (two wins) but a greater points difference of plus 31. Clare are in fourth spot with two points and a score difference of minus 30.
And while there are many conundrums to be decided, one situation is very very clear and it’s the case with Clare who need to win by a huge margin if they have any chance of staying in the championship while at the same time hoping to see Tipperary overcome Limerick by a sizeable margin.
On the other hand, it depends on who earnestly wants a place in the Munster final.
Cork are chasing a three in a row but they might settle for a soft win over Clare and take up third position with a play-off against Laois or Westmeath who are likely to reach the Joe MacDonagh Final.
If Cork win but fail to improve their scoring difference to a great degree they may reach the Munster final if Tipperary defeat Limerick. Cork would get the nod against Limerick because they won the head to head last May.
Limerick on the other hand became All-Ireland champions last year and reached the knockout stages via the third place play-off after failing to reach the Munster final.
They may want to advance through the Munster decider this year to prove they are up to the challenge if nothing else.
To beat Tipperary would be a tall order because Liam Sheedy and his men will be determined to continue their rich vein of hurling. If Tipp win it's likely that a Tipperary v Cork Munster final will survive.
However Tipp are facing their biggest test as Limerick, based on last Sunday’s performance against Clare, are in a good place and their strength and hurling skill leaves nothing to spare.
The new round robin system of the Munster championship is fine to a point but one thing is for sure is that no team wants to lose a Munster final. Winning or coming in third in the group is a much better scenario.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen but one likes to predict and this writer will suggest a Tipperary v Cork final with Tipp having three or four points to spare over the Treatysiders.
The Limerick full backline seems to be the weakest and the Tipp forward appear to have everything going for them with a forward line of such quality in John O’Dwyer, John McGrath, Seamus Callanan, Jason Forde, Dan McCormack and Patrick Maher. The confidence that comes from this list is frightening and they will do enough to turn the game in Tipp’s favour.
Tipp v Limerick - The Statistics
There have been 69 previous championship meetings between Tipperary and Limerick. Tipperary has won 35 games to Limerick's 24 with 10 draws.
Tipperary also received a walk over in 1899, and Limerick received a walk over in 1902.
The last ten meetings provide the following set of results with both sides winning four times while there were two games which finished level.
2007 at the Gaelic Grounds, Tipperary 1-19 Limerick 1-19 (semi-final - draw);
2007 at Semple Stadium, Tipperary 2-21 Limerick 1-24 - (semi-final -1st replay & extra time);
2007 at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 0-22 Tipperary 2-13 (semi-final –2nd replay & extra time);
2009 at Croke Park, Tipperary 6-19 Limerick 2-7 (All Ireland semi-final);
2012 at Semple Stadium, Tipperary 2-20 Limerick 1-19 (quarter-final);
2013 at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 1-18 Tipperary 1-15 (semi-final);
2014 at Semple Stadium, Limerick 2-18 Tipperary 2-16 (semi-final);
2015 at the Gaelic Grounds, Tipperary 4-23 Limerick 1-16 (semi-final);
2016 at Semple Stadium, Tipperary 3-12 Limerick 1-16 (semi-final)
2018 at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 1-23 Tipperary 2-14 (Round 1).