‘I’d give Clare a serious chance’ - hurling semi-finals vox pop

Richie Bennis, Eamon O’Shea and Alan Kerins give their opinion and predictions

Clare take on reigning champions Galway on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

Clare take on reigning champions Galway on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

 

RICHIE BENNIS (Limerick player in ‘73 final and manager in ‘07 final)

Galway v Clare How do Clare neutralise the Galway attack? “Don’t turn it into a fight. Best way for Clare is to keep the ball moving at speed, which they are very good at, and stay away from as many 50 50 clashes as possible. Use the full width of Croke Park against Galway.”

Can Galway bring their physicality to bear? “Jackie Tyrrell said Galway remind him of a rugby team. That’s a very mobile rugby team!”

So... “I think Clare could pull off a surprise, because these four teams they can all win the All-Ireland..”

Cork v Limerick On paper who is better? “Cork and Limerick would be very much of similar standard now in my eyes but this is the first time Limerick go up to Croke Park having a 50-50 chance of winning a semi-final, because we have not a good record of winning them - only one since ‘73.”

Was the defeat of Kilkenny a watershed moment for Limerick hurling? “They have impressed from the word go. Usually when we meet Tipperary we are hoping for a performance. We are always going to get a fighting Limerick team now we have the hurlers to back up the work rate.” So... “Limerick - sure you have to let your heart rule your head - but I’d be very honest with you now: it’s definitely going to be a 50 50 game. Whoever copes with the occasion.”

EAMON O’SHEA (Former Tipperary manager)

Galway v Clare How do Clare neutralise the Galway attack? “There is enough in the Clare memory bank from the 2013 win on that pitch to know what Croke Park is and isn’t. They need to play around Galway with a running game but mix it up as well by going long to John Conlon.”

Can Galway bring their physicality to bear? “If you avoid the head-on approach, move the ball quick, attack from deep, then Clare have a chance.”

So... “I’d give Clare a serious chance - they have real know how in their team - but you have to fancy Galway.”

Cork v Limerick On paper who is better? “Limerick are evolving into a team with real belief in what they are doing. They have the under-21 All-Irelands and their size gives them a chance, if not this year, then in the coming seasons. Cork have the forwards and wing back Mark Coleman is outstanding. There is a point between them.”

Was the defeat of Kilkenny a watershed moment for Limerick hurling? “When Kilkenny got the goal it was really impressive to see Limerick handle the game. They came back with five or six points. They also took the blip of losing to Clare quietly and efficiently. They are in a good place but so are a confidant Cork side.” So... “In a tight game - 0-15 to 0-14 - I’d say Limerick. If it opens up - a 1-30 to 2-28 - Cork can get the goals to win.”

ALAN KERINS (Former Galway hurler and footballer)

Galway v Clare How do Clare neutralise the Galway attack? “It will be difficult for them because of the sheer physical presence of Galway. If Clare could get back to their 2013 form, with that slick ball movement, they have a real chance. Ball to hand, precision hurling is needed. Easier said than done.”

Can Galway bring their physicality to bear? “Clare must work it through the lines, Croke Park is a fast pitch, a dream to play hurling there, this could suit them.”

So... “ Clare depend on John Conlon but anyone who has come near Daithi Burke has been dominated. Galway.”

Cork v Limerick On paper who is better? “This will be a cracker. Going on the first game Limerick had a man sent off but still drew in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Defeat to Clare brought them back down to earth and that has helped them no end.” Was the defeat of Kilkenny a watershed moment for Limerick hurling? “It showed they don’t panic under pressure and would be the best team to challenge Galway in an All-Ireland final. They have the big physical men who play intelligence heads-up hurling.”

So... “Limerick need to put away their goal chances but they are the coming team with serious character about them. If Cork lose Séamus Harnedy to injury that would be a massive loss.”

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