Wexford captain Lee Chin against Westmeath  in their  Leinster  championship, round 4, match at  Cusack Park, Mullingar. Photograph: Ashley Cahill/Inpho

I was surprised Limerick didn’t rest more players against Clare given they were already through

Cork’s Shane Kingston shoots under pressure from Waterford’s Tadhg De Burca in the Munster SHC round 3 game at Walsh Park on Sunday. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Defeat to Cork at Walsh Park leaves Déise with some hard questions to ask themselves

Action from the league final betwen Cork and Waterford, the teams meet again in the Munster championship this weekend. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Clare look to have surpassed Waterford as the main contender to Limerick

Cork’s Robert Flynn with Shane O’Donnell and Peter Duggan of Clare. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Banner were capable of playing ‘heads-up’ hurling and picking out the right ball

Galway’s Conor Whelan in action against Wexford, he is crucial to Henry Shefflin’s plans. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Galway and Kilkenny are still the leading teams but Dublin can challenge either

Limerick’s Diarmaid Byrnes and Waterford’s Stephen Bennett after Saturday’s Munster championship clash. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster contenders Dublin could cause Galway trouble as well as Kilkenny

Austin Gleeson scores a goal against Wexford. His return to the starting XV would l strengthen Waterford’s  hand against Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Champions superb against Cork and Déise will have their work cut out regardless of line-up

John Kiely congratulates William O’Donoghue after the victory over Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.  Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Champions outclass Cork again to show they remain very much the team to beat

Cork can’t afford  Cian Lynch the freedom of Páirc Uí Chaoimh like they did last year in Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Waterford look to have built valuable depth while Tipperary are a side in transition

Limerick’s Aaron Gillane celebrates his goal at Croke Park on Sunday.  Photograph: Tom Honan

Staying afloat in the face of Limerick’s sheer physicality was just too much to ask for

On several occasions against Waterford Tom Morrissey was able to get a good touch with his hand and then unshackle himself with physical power. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cork’s hopes lie in using pace to go around Limerick and open up vital goal chances

Cork line out for the national anthem ahead of the semi-final against Kilkenny. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Rebels come into their first final in eight years hoping to cause an upset

Limerick’s Barry Nash and Shane Kingston of Cork, two players more than comfortable with the new demands of modern hurling. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

More traditional style of hurling perfected by Kilkenny’s great teams has been eclipsed

Shane Kingson: his  introduction worked wonders for Cork in the second half against Kilkenny as he produced an outstanding personal display, firing a string of points from play. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Rebels dig deep to see off defiant Cats but champions Limerick looking formidable

Limerick’s William O’Donoghue celebrates after the All-Ireland SHC semi-finals with David Reidy. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Defending All-Ireland champions simply had too much for Waterford in semi-final

Cian Lynch is the fulcrum through which Limerick operate at their best. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Champions Limerick will need to repeat second-half performance from Munster final

Tipperary players gather round referee Colm Lyons after he awarded a penalty to Waterford during the All-Ireland quarter-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Waterford and Cork wins mean we have the best four teams in this year’s semi-finals

Waterford manager Liam Cahill is seen by many as the heir apparent to Liam Sheedy in Tipperary. File photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

It’s not all bad but when teams run with the ball that’s where Tipp have issues

Cork’s Shane Barrett celebrates scoring a goal against Clare. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Waterford’s pace, drive and running game was just too hot to handle for Galway

Clare’s Cathal Malone celebrates scoring a goal against Wexford last week. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Can Waterford be trusted against Galway in Thurles after two poor outings?

Limerick’s Diarmuid Byrnes with the Mick Mackey Cup after winning  the Munster    championship final. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

When Cian Lynch got support in the second half he really began to pull the strings

Limerick’s Kyle Hayes, Sean Finn and Richie English celebrate winning a free against Cork. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Dublin look unlikely to be able to rack up the points needed to topple Kilkenny in Leinster

Clare’s David Reidy and Aron Shanagher vie  with Barry Heffernan of Tipperary for the sliotar. Photograph: Inpho

Brian Lohan rightly angry with referee after controversial decision just after half-time

Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh celebrates scoring a goal during their Leinster SHC semi-final win over Wexford. Photo: Brian Reilly-Troy/Inpho

Some worrying signs for Limerick while Kilkenny look dangerous at Croke Park

Tim O’Mahony:  Cork’s  big weapon is pace and they have it everywhere from O’Mahony, who’s an outstanding player at wing back, to Jack O’Connor in the forwards. However they will need goals if they are to trouble Limerick. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Champions remain the team to beat while Galway, Kilkenny and Tipperary can advance

Galway’s Joe Canning scores his sides second goal during their Allianz League win over Waterford. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

This is the best time ever for players and radical changes aren’t needed just yet

Limerick’s Will O’Donoghue and Waterford’s Jack Prendergast struggle for possession. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Best team by far has won a second All-Ireland title in three years – with more likely to come

Waterford’s Dessie Hutchinson with Limerick’s Dan Morrissey during the Munster final. The  key question is: do I expect Limerick to improve? The answer is probably not. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Limerick will need to find an extra gear if they are to foil Cahill’s driven Déise side

All-Ireland hurling final 2020

Galway’s Seán Loftus shakes hands with Limerick’s Adrian Breen after the game. Photograph: Inpho

In the end over two days the established form line held and best sides to face off in fortnight

Waterford’s Dessie Hutchinson celebrates scoring his second goal against Clare during the All-Ireland quarter-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Hutchinson and Bennett give Waterford real hope; Galway’s fluctuation in performance a concern

Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe in action during their victory against Clare in the All-Ireland quarter-finals at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Galway as underdogs give them edge against Limerick, while Waterford will test Kilkenny

 Conor Whelan in action against Kilkenny in the Leinster final. Galway, despite ample possession,  have lacked a goal threat thus far. That could be costly against Tipperary. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Improving Déise can see off Clare’s potent threat in Saturday's All-Ireland quarter-final

Limerick’s Tom Morrissey contests a high ball with Waterford’s Tadhg De Burca. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Kilkenny and Tipp make significant moves in rejigging of championship pecking order

Galway’s Brian Concannon has been in impressive form for the 2017 champions. File photograph: Inpho

Will ‘third week syndrome’ kick in for Cork and the other qualifier teams down the line?

Limerick’s Pat Ryan and Barry Nash celebrate after the Munster semi-final victory over Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Impressive Galway now look the best-equipped of the other All-Ireland contenders

Limerick’s Gearóid Hegarty, Cian Lynch and Declan Hannon tackle John O’Dwyer of Tipperary in last year’s Munster final. Tipperary will have to do a lot better in the middle third if they are to prevail on Sunday.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cork, Kilkenny and Galway can also book their places in respective provincial deciders

Gearóid Hegarty of Limerick is challenged by Clare’s Tony Kelly at Semple Stadium. Both players turned in exceptional displays for their respective counties. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Will the lack of crowds and accompanying tension lead to open, high-scoring games?

Clare’s Jack Browne and Darragh O’Donovan of Limerick in action in their Munster Senior Hurling League Round 3 game at  Sixmilebridge, Co Clare on January 5th. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

A Limerick team of all the talents have a winning hand while Clare lack ball-winners

Brian and Frank Lohan of Clare  tackle Johnny Dooley of Offaly during the 1995 All-Ireland hurling final. Photograph:     Patrick Bolger/Inpho

Clare’s victory over Offaly is unrecognisable from the modern game in many aspects

Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer scores his side’s third goal past Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy in the  All-Ireland Senior Hurling final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

It was almost impossible to see where 14-man Kilkenny would manage to get a goal

John McGrath needs to deliver in the Tipperary forward line in Sunday’s All-Ireland final against Kilkenny. Photograph:  Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The two great rivals look to be reaching their peaks at just the right time ahead of final

Tipperary ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final win over Wexford. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

All-Ireland hurling final countdown: player-by-player analysis of Tipp’s starting XV

The Kilkenny squad ahead of their quarter-final win over Cork. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

All-Ireland hurling final countdown: player-by-player analysis of the Cats' XV

Tipperary’s Jake Morris, whose goal against Wexford was one of three disallowed.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Despite red card and three disallowed goals, Tipperary dug deep and came up trumps

Tempers flare between both sides early in the game. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

From the very start, Brian Cody’s team took the game to the All-Ireland champions

Limerick’s Peter Casey scores Limerick’s  opening goal  in the Munster final victory over Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds. Casey is delivering on his considerable potential this year. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Other semi-final is harder to call but Wexford’s momentum may be difficult to halt

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid battles with Stephen McDonnell of Cork during their All-Ireland SHC quarter-final at Croke Park. Photo: Gary Carr/Inpho

Greater intensity in Leinster championship vindicated as brittle Cork are shattered

TJ Reid is Kilkenny’s main danger man. Who can look after him for  Cork? Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cork have potential to reach semi-final but defensive issues leave door open for Kilkenny

 Kyle Hayes celebrates scoring a goal against Tipperary during the Munster final at the Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Chastened Tipperary and Kilkenny must now regroup for their quarter-final tests

Tipperary’s John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer in action against Clare during the Munster SHC at Cusack Park in Ennis. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Time to alternate big finals on Saturday and Sunday so fans don’t lose out

Tipperary’s John McGrath eludes Limerick’s Richie English  during the Munster championship clash at Thurles. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Galway’s exit the big surprise following two brilliant final round-robin clashes in Leinster

TJ Reid: has been in superb form and will pose Wexford major problems in the crunch encounter at Wexford Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Home venue is a big advantage but they don’t quite have Kilkenny’s scoring potential

Cathal Mannion with Kilkenny’s Paddy Deegan at Nowlan Park. The Galway man gave a master class in forward play during the Leinster championship clash. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Champions have found their groove while Galway emerged unscathed from Nowlan Park

Tipperary’s Brendan Maher and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer celebrate after the convincing victory over Clare at Cusack Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Work rate, power and fitness as well as a classy forward line proves a potent combination

Limerick’s Peter Casey and Niall O’Leary of Cork during their clash at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tipp’s work rate kept pace with their scoring which overwhelmed 14-man Deise

The emergence of the likes of  Conor Boylan shows the strength in depth Limerick have. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster champions’ defence needs radical surgery if they are to get back on track

Tipperary’s Séamus Callanan celebrates scoring his side’s first goal against Cork in the Munster SHC  Round 1 match at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Difficult to see Cork recovering in time for their second match round against Limerick

Limerick’s Peter Casey and William O’Donoghue celebrate after their All-Ireland SHC final win at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Limerick had to show resilience to survive Galway's late show but they've been doing that all year

Limerick’s Sean Finn in action against Galway’s David Burke during the league clash at Salthill.  Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

At their best Galway will beat anyone but sustaining performance has been the issue

Galway’s Daithi Burke celebrates after the defeat of Clare at Semple Stadium, Thurles. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The fates and the woodwork of Semple Stadium conspired to end Clare's season

Clare’s Peter Duggan is tackled by Galway’s Paul Kileen during the drawn semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tribesmen will need to improve their intensity and not be over-reliant on Glynn

John Kiely’s team proved amazingly resilient again when the match was in the balance

Limerick’s Dan Morrissey celebrates at the final whistle with Sean Finn (No 2) after the thrilling quarter-final victory over Kilkenny at Thurles. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

It’s hard to look beyond formidable Galway in the first semi-final at headquarters

Limerick’s Tom Morrissey and Kilkenny’s Martin Keoghan battle for possession during the All-Ireland quarter-final at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Manner of the impressive victory will work wonders for Kiely’s up-and-coming side

Cian Lynch has impressed in the middle of the park for Limerick. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

John Kiely’s side will be fresher but psychologically battle will also be key

Conor Whelan celebrates after Jonathan Glynn  scored Galway’s opening goal in the Leinster final replay at  Semple Stadium, Thurles. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Manner of the victory over Kilkenny clearly reasserted Tribesmen’s credentials

Galway’s Jonathan Glynn battles in the air against Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley  during the Leinster final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

All-Ireland race looks more open than ever as Cork edge Clare again in Munster final

Joe Canning: has been in impressive form again this year in a potent Galway attack and will most likely cause problems for Kilkenny on Sunday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Champions can plant another flag while Clare’s transformation can see them claim Munster

Clare’s John Conlon and  Shane O’Donnell in action against Richie English of Limerick during the Munster championship clash at Cusack Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Sluggish Limerick’s momentum stalled as third game in a row perhaps took its toll

Clare goalkeeper Donal Tuohy and Tipp’s Jake Morris  watch on  as the  substitute’s shot hits  the post in a pivotal moment during yesterday’s game. Photograph: James Crombie

Errors and poor clearances from Tipperary lead to Clare goals and Tipp's exit

Galway’s Cathal Mannion. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Limerick perhaps best-placed to upset the champions’ title defence this year

Galway’s Joe Canning in action against Tommy Ryan of Waterford. Canning was flawless on the frees during his side’s win on Sunday in Croke Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

On an emotional day Micheál Donoghue’s team remained composed

Joe Canning: Tipperary paid the price for letting him drift; Waterford won’t take that chance. Photograph: Getty Images

Deise could exploit nervousness but MacCarthy Cup looks on way to Galway

Irish Times hurling analyst gives his lowdown on the Tribesmen ahead of Sunday’s final

Jamie Barron: the mobile Waterford midfielder  has played a key role with crucial goals in the defeats of both Kilkenny and Tipperary. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Traditional 15-a-side formation gives way as coaches try various set-ups with ‘extra’ man

Cork’s Patrick Horgan and Shane Fives of Waterford contest a high ball at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Waterford won all the key contests with Brick Walsh and Kevin Moran leading by example

Tadhg de Búrca: his absence is a major blow for Waterford as no-one else on the team is as comfortable in performing the role he has perfected. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Wide expanses of Croke Park will suit confident Rebels’ fast-moving game plan

Galway’s Joe Canning looks on after scoring the winning point against Tipperary at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tipperary produced their best display in 2017 but it just wasn’t enough on the day

Gearóid McInerney attempts to bottle up  Patrick Maher in last year’s semi-final. Photograph: Inpho/Tommy Dickson

Champions picking up momentum but the favourites have been a model of composure

Waterford’s Michael Walsh and Shane Bennett in action with David Redmond and Shaun Murphy of Wexford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Both Waterford and Tipperary looked unconvincing in their quarter-final victories

The new Páirc Uí Chaoimh is ready to host two intriguing All-Ireland quarter-finals this weekend. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Clare will struggle to win enough primary possession to dethrone the champions

Cork manager Kieran Kingston celebrates with selector Diarmaid O’Sullivan near the end of the Senior Hurling Championship Final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Younger players’ enthusiasm serves as inspiration for more experienced team-mates

Cork’s Seamus Harnedy during the Munster SHC semi-final against Tipperary. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Rebels have struggled defensively in recent years and will get first real test against Clare

Galway’s Joe Canning during the Leinster GAA senior hurling championship final, in Croke Park, Dublin. Photograph: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Tribesmen’s performance against Wexford proves it will take a lot to beat them this year

Conor Whelan: has been in impressive form for a potent Galway attack. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Micheál Donoghue’s team have the forwards to prevail in a high-scoring clash

Cork’s Stephen McDonnell vies with Waterford’s Shane Bennett at  Semple Stadium yesterday. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Nicky English: The sense of expectation surrounding Wateford was left disappointed

Waterford’s Shane Bennett with Mark Ellis and Colm Spillane of Cork. Waterford will need more from the two Bennetts and Patrick Curran to reach another level this year. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Questions surrounding Conor Lehane’s fitness can tilt the balance towards Déise

Wexford’s Lee Chin celebrates with fans after their victory over Kilkenny in the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship quarter-final at Wexford Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Fans at Wexford were put through the wringer as Kilkenny mounted a late charge

Richie Hogan: classy  forward will pose a huge threat to Wexford’s ambitions in the Leinster SHC semi-final at Innovate Wexford Park. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Wexford are well capable of winning in their home venue but wily Cats still get the nod

Limerick’s Richie English in action against Clare’s two-goal hero Shane O’Donnell at  Semple Stadium. Photograph: Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Forwards proved decisive against Limerick but winning primary possession an issue

 Conor McGrath could help tip the balance in Clare’s favour. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

If Clare are to be contenders they will certainly have to see off a weakened opposition

Galway’s Johnny Coen gets the measure of Tipp’s  Seámus Kennedy in the league final. Photograph: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

Kilkenny-Tipperary duopoly can be broken this year

Question and answer: Ronan Maher of Tipperary and Liam Blanchfield of Kilkenny at yesterday’s GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final at Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Huge All-Ireland final win justifies Tipp’s status as the best team in championship

Richie Hogan: one of the best players in the country and certain to be a key man for Kilkenny in the All-Ireland hurling final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tipperary's hot can see them beat Kilkenny but their cold won't be good enough

Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer celebrates his crucial goal against Galway with John McGrath at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Despite Waterford’s heroics, the best two teams will meet in next month’s final

Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh is tackled by Waterford’s Tadhg De Burca during last Sunday’s semi-final clash at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cats’ goalscoring threat gives them edge while improving Tipp can end Galway hopes

Waterford manager Derek McGrath  said in a pre-match interview that his team had decided to go for it, and they came out with all guns blazing:  Photograph: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Plucky performances in the hurling match of the season

Austin Gleeson: one of the players Waterfor rely on to post scores from 70 or 80 yards  out the field.  Photograph:  Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

But regardless of what system Déise opt for, form suggests the champions will prevail

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