Limerick need a good day out in Semple Stadium
Holders Waterford continue to make strides and look well placed to advance
Derek McGrath’s Waterford scored just one goal in the league this year. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho.
Allianz Hurling League semi-final: Limerick v Waterford, Semple Stadium, Sunday, 2pm (TG4)
Life in Division 1B has had a groundhog-day element about it for Limerick.
This year, they came out on the wrong side of their must-win clash against neighbours Clare.
Last year, they drew against Waterford in a scintillating opening game in the Gaelic Grounds which finished 2-16 to 0-22.
But Waterford got promoted that season and went on to win the league outright. Limerick stayed put.
No challenging county has made the strides Waterford has done since that drawn game.
Since then, Limerick lost two of their senior players and leaders, Donal O’Grady and Niall Moran.
This has the feel of a significant day for a team eager for a forward thrust.
Declan Hannon, top scorer in the league for Limerick, remains unavailable with an ankle injury while Séamus Hickey (hamstring) is also unfit for duty.
Definite losses but TJ Ryan has proven adept with juggling his team through necessity throughout the league.
Ryan’s comments after Limerick’s quarter-final win, referring to “hidden agendas” against both team and backroom staff and of the “vultures” circling Limerick hurling spoke volumes about the pressure the team is under just now.
The return of the Na Piarsaigh players will deepen his options.
Waterford manager Derek McGrath is right to anticipate a forceful effort from Limerick on Sunday.
Waterford’s total of 0-17 was enough to see off their neighbours Wexford in the quarter-final but it was yet another game when the defending champions failed to engineer a goal: they’ve scored just one in league action this year.
Limerick have netted 11 times, albeit it in the lower division.
Goals could secure passage for the Treaty County and they could use a victory over a top-four side.
But that drought will end and Waterford have been consistent throughout the league and look well placed to advance.