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Preview: Weekend's provincial hurling championship action

Conor Hearne of Wexford gets away from Eoin Cody of Kilkenny during the 2024 Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A match between Kilkenny and Wexford at UPMC Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile. 

Conor Hearne of Wexford gets away from Eoin Cody of Kilkenny during the 2024 Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A match between Kilkenny and Wexford at UPMC Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile. 

By John Harrington

A myriad of permutations are possible as we come into the final round of the provincial hurling championships. You can read a guide to all of them HERE.

Sunday, May 26

Leinster SHC round 5

Kilkenny v Wexford, UPMC Nowlan Park, 2pm – GAAGO

Kilkenny are the only team already guaranteed a place in the All-Ireland series thanks to Leinster GAA’s regulation that the head-to-head ‘League Points’ record would separate three or more teams that finish on the same number of points.

Kilkenny will qualify for the Leinster Final if they draw or win against Wexford. Wexford will qualify for the final if they beat Kilkenny, but a draw would also be sufficient if Galway and Dublin also draw their game.

If Kilkenny and Wexford draw, the winner of the Dublin v Galway match would join Kilkenny in the Leinster Final and Wexford would finish third.

Kilkenny make two changes to the team that defeated Dublin last time out, with Richie Reid and Billy Ryan coming in for Shane Murphy and Owen Wall.

They’re boosted by the return from injury of Adrian Mullen and Walter Walsh who are both named on the subs bench.

Wexford make no change to the team that comfortably defeated Carlow last time out.

KILKENNY: E Murphy; M Butler, H Lawlor, T Walsh; D Blanchfield, P Deegan, M Carey; C Kenny, R Reid; J Donnelly, TJ Reid, T Phelan; M Keoghan, B Ryan, E Cody. Subs: A Tallis, S Murphy, C Delaney, C Buckley, C Fogarty, K Doyle, A Mullen, B Drennan, O Wall, W Walsh, H Shine.

WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Shane Reck, Conor Foley, Eoin Ryan; Liam Ryan, Damien Reck, Matthew O'Hanlon; Conor Hearne, Cathal Dunbar; Richie Lawlor, Lee Chin, Liam Og McGovern; Mikie Dwyer, Conor McDonald, Rory O'Connor. Subs: Aaron Duggan, Simon Donohoe, Kevin Foley, Charlie McGuckin, Tomás Kinsella, Darragh Carley, Conor Devitt, Seamus Casey, Cian Byrne, Niall Murphy, Jack O'Connor.

Galway v Dublin, Pearse Stadium, 2pm – RTE

A win for either Galway or Dublin in this match would secure a place in the Leinster final regardless of what happens in the Kilkenny v Wexford match.

Dublin have named the same team that started against Kilkenny last time out, but there are doubts that Cian O’Sullivan will be fit to play after injuring his hamstring in that game.

If he’s marked absent, that will be a significant blow to Dublin’s hopes of victory.

Galway are also unchanged from the side that comfortably beat Antrim away from home last weekend.

Galway have struggled for consistency in this year’s championship thus far but they’ll believe that if they can at least break even in the middle third with Dublin then the firepower provided by Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, and Evan Niland in their full-forward line will give them an edge.

GALWAY: Darach Fahy; Jack Grealish, Daithí Burke, Fintan Burke; Seán Linnane, Padraic Mannion, Cianan Fahy; David Burke, Ronan Glennon; Gavin Lee, Tom Monaghan, Joseph Cooney; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Evan Niland. Subs: Eanna Murphy, Eoin Lawless, Adrian Tuohey, Shane Cooney, Gearóid McInerney, Donal O’Shea, Tiernan Killeen, Jonathan Glynn, Cathal Mannion, Jason Flynn, Declan Mc Loughlin

DUBLIN: Seán Brennan; John Bellew, Eoghan O'Donnell, Paddy Smyth; Chris Crummey, Conor Donohoe, Paddy Doyle; Brian Hayes, Conor Burke; Danny Sutcliffe, Donal Burke, Sean Currie; Fergal Whiteley, Cian O'Sullivan, Ronan Hayes. Subs: Eddie Gibbons, James Madden, Daire Gray, Seán Gallagher, Darragh Power, Mark Grogan, Dara Purcell, Colin Currie, Paul Crummey, Jake Malone, Liam Murphy

Antrim v Carlow, Corrigan Park, 2pm

This match is a relegation shoot-out. A draw would suffice for Antrim to retain their Liam MacCarthy cup status, whereas only a win is good enough for Carlow.

Antrim are always a very tough team to beat in Corrigan Park and home advantage should count for something.

They make three changes to the team that was defeated by Galway last time out with Rory McCloskey, Conal Cunning, and Conor McCann coming into the starting XV.

Carlow also make three changes to the side that was defeated last weekend by Wexford as Jack Kavanagh, Ciaran Whelan, and Jake Doyle come into the XV.

This will be a serious battle, but if Antrim can limit the impact of Chris Nolan and Marty Kavanagh their greater all-round quality could see them edge it.

ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Conor Boyd, Rory Mc Closkey, Paddy Burke; Gerard Walsh, Niall O Connor, Eoghan Campbell; Michael Bradley, Keelan Molloy; Nigel Elliot, James McNaughton, Niall McKenna; Conal Cunning, Conor McCann, Seaan Elliott. Subs: Tiernan Smyth, Phelim Duffin, Stephen Rooney, Scott Walsh, Aodhan McGarry, Sean McKay, Fred McCurry, Paul Boyle, Rian McMullan, Joseph McLaughlin, Christy McGarry.

CARLOW: Brian Tracey; Paul Doyle, Dion Wall, Conor Lawlor; Jack Kavanagh, Kevin McDonald, Tony Lawlor; Jack McCullagh, Richard Coady; Chris Nolan, Ciaran Whelan, Martin Kavanagh; Conor Kehoe, John Michael Nolan, Jake Doyle. Subs: Ciaran Abbey, Paddy Boland, Niall Bolger, Scott Treacy, Fiachra Fitzpatrick, Fiach O’Toole, Evan Kealy, Lorcan Doyle, Paidi O’Shea, James Doyle, Donagh Murphy.

The meeting of Limerick and Waterford in the Munster SHC will be pivotal. 

The meeting of Limerick and Waterford in the Munster SHC will be pivotal. 

Munster SHC round 5

Limerick v Waterford, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 4pm – RTE

A win or a draw will secure a place for Limerick in the Munster Final and a win would do the same for Waterford.

If Waterford lose then they’re definitely out of the championship, and a draw would see them finish third as long as Clare beat Tipperary in the weekend’s other game in Munster.

If Limerick lose, they’ll be eliminated from the championship if Clare avoid defeat in that match against Tipperary.

Limerick’s Sean Finn is ruled out of the game after injuring a leg against Cork but the Shannonsiders have a capable replacement in the fit again Mike Casey. That switch is the only change from the starting XV that lost to Cork.

Waterford have made just one change to the team that was narrowly beaten by Clare last weekend with Shane Bennett coming in from the start for Patrick Curran.

Limerick have had two weeks to prepare for this game whereas Waterford might feel the exertions of that Clare game coming down the final stretch.

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Mike Casey, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Will O Donoghue, Cathal O Neill; Gearóid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Séamus Flanagan, David Reidy. Subs: Jason Gillane, Conor Boylan, Colin Coughlan, Adam English, Graeme Mulcahy, Barry Murphy, Shane O'Brien, Aidan O'Connor, Fergal O'Connor, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh, Mark Quinlan

WATERFORD: S O’Brien; K Bennett, I Daly, I Kenny; M Fitzgerald, T de Búrca, C Lyons; D Lyons, J Barron; Shane Bennett, J Prendergast, M Kiely; D Hutchinson, Stephen Bennett, K. Mahony. Subs: B Nolan, J Fagan, M Power, P Curran, P Leavey, Pádraig Fitzgerald, Patrick Fitzgerald, P Hogan, N Montgomery, T Barron, W Hahessy.

Tipperary v Clare, FBD Semple Stadium, 4pm - RTE News/Player

Clare can secure a place in the Munster Final with a win or a draw here and have named the same starting XV that defeated last weekend.

That means Tony Kelly must be content with a place on the bench again while David McInerney is still ruled out with injury.

Tipperary have unsurprisingly made six changes to the team that hammered last weekend by Cork as Paddy Cadell, Sean Kenneally, Andrew Ormond, Johnny Ryan, Brian McGrath, and Willie Connors come in for Noel McGrath, Jason Forde, Bryan O’Mara, Darragh Stakelum, Conor Bowe, and Cathal Barrett (injured).

An already eliminated from the championship but will surely be highly motivated to restore some pride, but Clare’s much superior form makes them warm favourites here.

TIPPERARY: B Hogan; J Ryan, M Breen, C Morgan; B Heffernan, R Maher, B McGrath; P Cadell, W Connors; A Tynan, J Morris, S Kenneally; A Ormond, M Kehoe, G O’Connor. Subs: R Shelly, C Bowe, E Connolly, J Forde, P Maher, D McCormack, J McGrath, N McGrath, B O'Mara, C Stakelum, D Stakelum.

CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, Cian Galvin; David Fitzgerald, Darragh Lohan; Cathal Malone, Mark Rodgers, Peter Duggan; Aidan McCarthy, Shane O'Donnell, David Reidy. Subs: Cian Broderick, Conor Leen, Paul Flanagan, Seadna Morey, Ross Hayes, Paddy Donnellan, Ian Galvin, Aron Shanagher, Shane Meehan, Robin Mounsey, Tony Kelly.