Big crowd expected as Clare and Limerick square off

Home side must win in Ennis as Limerick have edge in scoring difference

Next weekend's final round of matches in the top flight of the Allianz Hurling League will not for the most part have a great deal riding on the games.

Four teams at the top of Division One A and One B will meet in the competition quarter-finals whereas the bottom two in each division will have relegation play-offs with which to round off the season.

The most significant match of the round is the meeting of Clare and Limerick in Ennis in Division One B. Only one county will be promoted to the top division and that is the one that finishes top of the table.

In the past there had been a promotion play-off but that was changed because of Limerick's fate in finishing in first place twice but losing the play-off. The county had also won promotion in 2011 only to be returned to the second tier because of league restructuring. For the past three years the county has finished second to Waterford, Cork and Clare.


Big crowds

If the sides draw Limerick have the edge in scoring difference, 58 as against 46, so the home side must win. It promises to be the biggest attendance of the day in a fixture that has attracted big crowds in the past.

This year will be the 20th anniversary of the famous Gaelic Grounds meeting of the counties when Limerick’s late winning score by Ciarán Carey, now the Kerry manager, capped a memorable comeback to dethrone the then All-Ireland champions Clare. That was the last year of an unmitigated sudden death format and meant Clare were out after just one match.

During the foot-and-mouth crisis 15 years ago the counties had another famous encounter. As fixtures had been postponed the match took place in April on a Thursday evening with more than 17,000 in attendance on the Ennis Road.

This weekend's renewal of the rivalry brings together not only the two best teams in the division but counties that are expected to have a big say in the Munster championship. The presence of defending champions Tipperary and league holders Waterford makes it one of the hardest-to-call championships in years.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times