Preview: Weekend's Championship Hurling action
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Final
Saturday November 14
Kilkenny v Galway, Croke Park, 6.15pm
The past decade has featured a string of Kilkenny versus Galway thrillers.
Undoubtedly the 2020 edition will be different at an empty Croke Park, but the prize for the victors is the Bob O'Keeffe Cup and a place in the last four of the All Ireland SHC.
That is a real bounty considering the fact that the qualifiers and quarter-final stages will feature so many capable teams.
Kilkenny, with TJ Reid excelling, were cruising against Dublin before nearly being flattened late on.
Brian Cody's players, though, still found a way and the intervening fortnight means the striped men will be primed for this decider.
Galway, under Shane O'Neill's stewardship, introduced some promising performers in the Wexford win with Fintan Burke smashing in defence.
Recapturing the dash and drive of that Galway effort is the brief, but Kilkenny will relish this challenge.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Conor Delaney, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; Cillian Buckley, Padraig Walsh, Conor Fogarty; Richie Leahy, Conor Browne; John Donnelly, Martin Keoghan, Walter Walsh; TJ Reid, Eoin Cody, Colin Fennelly.
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Sean Loftus, Daithi Burke, Shane Cooney; Fintan Burke, Gearoid McInerney, Joseph Cooney; Padraic Mannion, Johnny Coen; Conor Cooney, Cathal Mannion, Joe Canning; Conor Whelan, Niall Burke, Brian Concannon.
Munster Senior Hurling Championship Final
Sunday November 15
Limerick v Waterford, Semple Stadium, 4pm
Munster SHC finals are never short on subplots. That is why this impending Thurles tussle should be interesting.
Limerick, brilliant when beating Clare and Tipperary, will know all about the threat Waterford can pose.
Liam Cahill and Michael Bevans' remarkable work with Tipperary underage outfits was frequently evident when the Premier County occupied the underdogs role.
Against Cork Waterford enjoyed the physical exchanges, but they showed loads of hurling prowess too.
Tadhg de Burca orchestrated the defence, Jamie Barron was a livewire, while Dessie Hutchinson added an extra layer of quality to the attack.
Aaron Gillane was immense for Limerick in the Tipperary encounter, while the depth of John Kiely's panel remains a hugely important tool.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Cian Lynch, William O'Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, David Reidy, Tom Morrissey; Graeme Mulcahy, Aaron Gillane, Peter Casey.
WATERFORD: Stephen O'Keeffe; Shane Fives, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Tadhg de Burca, Kevin Moran; Jamie Barron, Jake Dillon; Jack Fagan, Kieran Bennett, Stephen Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Jack Prendergast.
All Ireland SHC Round Two
Saturday November 14
Clare v Wexford, MW Hire O'Moore Park, 2pm
Brian Lohan and Davy Fitzgerald. Two teams eager to summon sustained responses following provincial losses.
Ultimately, whoever prevails will hit the quarter-finals armed with belief so this match carries such relevance.
Clare, with Tony Kelly effective once more, survived an awkward assignment against Laois.
Lohan altered his starting XV, but his players produced a gutsy display.
The fact that David McInerney was sent off ensured Clare were forced to strain every sinew to survive. That is what they achieved, which was a feat considering Laois' passionate second half effort.
Wexford suffered a most disappointing Leinster SHC loss to Galway.
Fitzgerald spoke open and honestly about requiring improvement when their qualifier campaign commenced. It is imminent now, and his native county provide the opposition.
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohue, Liam Ryan, Joe O’Connor; Paudie Foley, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Aidan Nolan, Liam Òg McGovern; Jack O’Connor, AN OTHER, Rory O’Connor; Conor McDonald, Paul Morris, David Dunne.
Cork v Tipperary, LIT Gaelic Grounds, 4pm
With Robbie O'Flynn and Seamus Harnedy rifling cute points, Cork flourished against Dublin.
Kieran Kingston and his management team made tweaks and Cork dominated that match from start to finish.
Mark Coleman was delightful in the backs, O'Flynn, Harnedy, Kingston, and Declan Dalton all summoned scores when it mattered.
Following the Waterford setback, Cork certainly gained confidence at Semple Stadium. A wounded Tipperary are next on the agenda.
Perhaps mitigating circumstances existed when Tipperary faltered against Limerick.
An injury to Padraic Maher restricted his training, while Seamus Kennedy's unavailability was another factor.
It can't be avoided, but the back to back All Ireland talk still swirls around Tipperary. Nobody in the camp wants to make too much of an issue about that, but the blue and gold should be pumped up for this fixture.
CORK: Anthony Nash; Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane, Sean O'Donoghue; Tim O'Mahony, Robert Downey, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Luke Meade; Seamus Harnedy, Shane Kingston, Robbie O'Flynn; Jack O'Connor, Declan Dalton, Patrick Horgan.
TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Ronan Maher, Alan Flynn; Niall O'Meara, Brendan Maher, Padraic Maher; Noel McGrath, Michael Breen; Dan McCormack, John McGrath, Patrick Maher; Jason Forde, Seamus Callanan, Jake Morris.
Joe McDonagh Cup
Saturday November 14
Antrim v Kerry, Corrigan Park, 1.30pm
The Joe McDonagh Cup continues to provide rich entertainment and dramatic matches.
Last month Antrim edged out Kerry in the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A decider.
That result earned Darren Gleeson's charges top flight status for 2021, but Antrim and Kerry will both feel the Joe McDonagh Cup can be gleaned.
Ciaran Clarke has been in prolific form for the Saffrons, while Shane Conway's sweet striking has been a real feature for Fintan O'Connor's Kerry.