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Preview: This weekend's provincial hurling championship action

John Conlon, Clare, and Gearóid Hegarty, Limerick, in action during the 2023 Munster SHC. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

John Conlon, Clare, and Gearóid Hegarty, Limerick, in action during the 2023 Munster SHC. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Munster Senior Hurling Championship

Sunday April 21

Clare v Limerick, Cusack Park, 2pm, RTE

Sunday's Munster SHC opener in Ennis promises to be lively.

Clare's Allianz Hurling League Division One triumph was significant, but Brian Lohan's outfit will be fully aware that a demanding assignment awaits on home turf.

Seeking a fifth All-Ireland on the trot and a sixth Munster title in a row, these truly are remarkable times for Limerick.

Clare defeated Limerick in the round robin series last year, but John Kiely's charges responded to win the provincial decider.

That was the latest championship epic between the counties.

Shane O'Donnell made welcome return to action for Clare in the league final with Adam Hogan and Aidan McCarthy delivering hugely impressive displays for Brian Lohan's side.

Limerick's panel is liberally sprinkled with class. Nickie Quaid, Diarmaid Byrnes, and Cian Lynch enjoyed productive moments in the league, while Cathal O'Neill made valuable contributions also.

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Conor Leen; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, Cian Galvin; David Fitzgerald, Darragh Lohan; Cathal Malone, Mark Rodgers, Peter Duggan; Aidan McCarthy, Ian Galvin, David Reidy.

Subs: Cian Broderick, Rory Hayes, Paul Flanagan, Seadna Morey, David McInerney, Paddy Donnellan, Shane O'Donnell, Aron Shanagher, Shane Meehan, Robin Mounsey, Tony Kelly.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Mike Casey, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Will O'Donoghue, Cathal O'Neill; Gearóid Hegarty, David Reidy, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Séamus Flanagan, Cian Lynch.

Subs: David McCarthy, Conor Boylan, Colin Coughlan, Adam English, Seán Finn, Graeme Mulcahy, Barry Murphy, Aidan O'Connor, Fergal O'Connor, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh, Mark Quinlan.

Waterford v Cork, Walsh Park, 4pm, GAAGO

It is only the first series of matches, but this fixture is crucial for Waterford and Cork.

In the round robin format Waterford have won only two out of 16 matches so they'll be especially eager to perform on home turf.

The fact that Waterford and Cork didn't advance from the Munster Championship last year adds another layer of importance to the game.

Reaching the All-Ireland series is the objective with Pat Ryan's Cork team featuring a nice blend of emerging and established hurlers.

Generating momentum is what Cork will be striving to do. During the league Seán O'Donoghue, Alan Connolly, and Patrick Horgan impressed at various stages.

There is plenty of talent in the Waterford panel with Shane Bennett and Dessie Hutchinson potent attacking threats.

Waterford: Shaun O'Brien; Mark Fitzgerald, Conor Prunty, Iarlaith Daly; Kieran Bennett, Tadhg de Búrca, Darragh Lyons; Jamie Barron, Neil Montgomery; Calum Lyons, Kevin Mahony, Stephen Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Michael Kiely, Jack Prendergast.

Subs: Billy Nolan, Ian Kenny, Jack Fagan, Mairtín Power, Patrick Curran, Patrick Fitzgerald, Pádraig Fitzgerald, Paddy Leavey, Tom Barron, Séamus Fitzgerald, Seán Walsh.

Cork: Patrick Collins; Ger Mellerick, Damien Cahalane, Seán O'Donoghue; Robert Downey, Ciarán Joyce, Mark Coleman; Tommy O'Connell, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Shane Barrett, Conor Lehane, Séamus Harnedy; Alan Connolly, Seán Twoney, Patrick Horgan.

Subs: Brion Saunderson, Eoin Downey, Niall O'Leary, Tim O'Mahony, Ethan Twomey, Luke Meade, Robbie O'Flynn, Brian Hayes, Brian Roche, Jack O'Connor, Eoin Carey.

Kilkenny senior hurling team manager Derek Lyng.

Kilkenny senior hurling team manager Derek Lyng.

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship

Sunday April 21

Galway v Carlow, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

Without a Leinster SHC title since 2018 Galway will be anxious to make a significant impact in this year's competition.

The return of the St Thomas' players aided Galway during the Allianz Hurling League.

Eamon O'Shea's addition to Henry Shefflin's management team in 2024 is another talking point, but with two home games early on, Galway will want to make a positive start.

Chris Nolan and Marty Kavanagh remain key performers for Carlow, who triumphed in the Joe McDonagh Cup last year.

The Mannion brothers, Pádraic and Cathal, Joseph Cooney, and David Burke provide valuable leadership and craft in the Galway panel.

Galway: Darach Fahy; Jack Grealish, Daithí Burke, Fintan Burke; Seán Linnane, Pádraic Mannion, Cianan Fahy; Ronan Glennon, Gavin Lee; Donal O'Shea, Tom Monagham, John Cooney; Declan McLoughlin, Conor Cooney, Cathal Mannion.

Subs: Eanna Murphy, Darren Morrissey, Adrian Tuohey, Gearóid McInerney, Tiernan Killeen, David Burke, Brian Concannon, Evan Niland, Joseph Cooney, Jason Flynn, Conor Whelan.

Carlow: Brian Tracey; Paul Doyle, Dion Wall, Niall Bolger; Jack McCullagh, Kevin McDonald, Jack Kavanagh; Ciaran Whelan, Richard Coady; Jon Nolan, Chris Nolan, Marty Kavanagh; Conor Kehoe, John Michael Nolan, Paddy Boland.

Subs: Ciaran Abbey, Tony Lawlor, Fiachra Fitzpatrick, Fiach O'Toole, Paidí O'Shea, Sean Joyce, Scott Treacy, Jake Doyle, John Doyle, Eric English, Colm Beck.

Wexford v Dublin, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 2pm

This will be a vital encounter in the Leinster SHC.

Back in 2016 Dublin sauntered to an emphatic win over Wexford, but in the intervening years the four Championship games involving the counties have been tight.

Dublin have won the most recent two by narrow margins, they drew in 2019, while the previous year Wexford triumphed 0-22 to 2-14.

It is likely to be similarly close this weekend. Three of Wexford's Allianz Hurling League games concluded in draws.

Keith Rossiter's team will hope that Séamus Casey and Lee Chin can score heavily, while a youthful Dublin team, managed by Micheál Donoghue, includes the prolific Donal Burke.

Wexford: Mark Fanning; Shane Reck, Conor Foley, Niall Murphy; Simon Donohoe, Damien Reck, Matthew O'Hanlon; Conor Hearne, Kevin Foley; Liam Óg McGovern, Lee Chin, Cathal Dunbar; Richie Lawlor, Séamus Casey, Rory O'Connor.

Subs: Aaron Duggan, Eoin Ryan, Conor McDonald, Mikie Dwyer, Darragh Carley, Cian Byrne, Conor Devitt, Jack Doran, Tomás Kinsella, James Byrne, Joe O'Connor.

Dublin: Seán Brennan; John Bellew, Eoghan O'Donnell, Paddy Smyth; Chris Crummey, Conor Donohoe, Paddy Doyle; Mark Grogan, Conor Burke; Ronan Hayes, Donal Burke, Brian Hayes; Danny Sutcliffe, Cian O'Sullivan, Seán Currie.

Subs: Eddie Gibbons, James Madden, Daire Gray, Seán Gallagher, Eddie Moran, Paul Crummey, Darragh Power, Dara Purcell, Diarmaid Ó Dúlaing, Jake Malone, Colin Currie.

Kilkenny v Antrim, UPMC Nowlan Park, 2.30pm

Despite a typically gutsy revival late on, Kilkenny were disappointed to lose the Allianz Hurling League Final against Clare.

Undoubtedly, mitigating circumstances existed, but Derek Lyng's charges still produced a gritty performance.

Cian Kenny impressed at centrefield, while Martin Keoghan drilled four points from play following his introduction.

Antrim have only beaten Kilkenny once previously in the Championship, a long time ago, in 1943.

The Saffrons lost their five Allianz Hurling League games, but Darren Gleeson's panel has been bolstered recently with the return of some players.

Conal Cunning is an accurate finisher and Antrim will want to get some early scores on the board against an accomplished Kilkenny team.

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Shane Murphy; David Blanchfield, Paddy Deegan, Mikey Carey; Cian Kenny, Richie Reid; Adrian Mullen, Eoin Cody, John Donnelly; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Tom Phelan.

Subs: Aidan Tallis, Tommy Walsh, Jordan Molloy, Darragh Corcoran, Killian Doyle, Conor Fogarty, Billy Ryan, Luke Hogan, Owen Wall, Gearóid Dunne, Billy Drennan.

Antrim: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Ryan McGarry, Paddy Burke; Scott Walsh, Eoghan Campbell, Conal Bohill; James McNaughton, Niall O'Connor; Michael Bradley, Nigel Elliott, Niall McKenna; Conal Cunning, Conor McCann, Seaan Elliott.

Subs: Tiernan Smyth, Stephen Rooney, Rory McCloskey, Conor Boyd, Gerard Walsh, Fred McCurry, Keelan Molloy, Rian McMullan, Joseph McLaughlin, Aodhan McGarry, Christy McGarry.