Talking points: All on the line next week in Munster dogfight

Our writers pick out the key takeaways from the weekend’s action.

Still clear as mud in Munster battle

Defeat for Clare, Tipperary or Waterford next Sunday will all but end their chances of winning through to the All-Ireland senior hurling championship. Should Clare lose to Tipperary, they would only be able to finish level on four points with their opponents next weekend. However, they could sneak ahead of them on score difference should another team finish up with them on four points.

A win over Clare may not guarantee Tipp’s progress as they could yet finish level with several teams on four points.

Lose to Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds next Sunday and Waterford would at best finish with three points, two points fewer than Limerick who would also have another game to play. Cork (four points) must play a waiting game on Sunday as they have a bye weekend. As they have drawn with Limerick and Tipperary, score difference will have to be used if they finish level with one or two of that pair. The top two teams qualify for the July 1 Munster final with the third team advancing to an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final against Joe McDonagh Cup finalists.

— John Fogarty

Worn down by workload

The more these hectic if absorbing provincial championships, particularly in Munster, go on the more it appears the integrity of them is brought into question by the demands placed on those involved. Was it fair that Cork had to face Limerick after Limerick had enjoyed a two-week break compared to their six days?

How could Offaly be expected to keep their heads above water when they had no time to scratch themselves never mind heal wounds between their four outings. Would Kilkenny have made a better fist of it in Salthill if they, like Galway, had a longer lead-up to the game? You bet they would. Whatever about the relegation situation, there mightn’t be a need to alter the format of the Championship but there is most certainly an argument that the format needs to be changed so that each team is on a level footing; something that is clearly not the case at the moment.

— John Fogarty

Sun going down on Saturday fare

As you will read elsewhere in these pages, Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash is in favour of more Saturday evening Championship games. His quotes will read as gold to Sky Sports who want more of them too. But then that setting sun sure appeared to affect players in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday even if Nash played it down. “I wouldn’t say it was massive – it wasn’t there in the first half. It didn’t affect any of the defenders or anything like that. I don’t think it was a massive influence on the game, to be honest, but ideally you prefer if it wasn’t there. I’d say it was affecting the Limerick forwards as much as our defenders.” “Not ideal,” are the operative words in Nash’s comments. Championship conditions should come as close to ideal as possible even if HawkEye wasn’t in the stadium on Saturday. In the second half, the floodlights were on in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but it’s widely argued they don’t suit hurling.

— John Fogarty

Goal shy in green and gold

It seemed impolite, churlish even, when they scored 32 points to mention the fact that Kerry again failed to find the net in Killarney yesterday. Except, you know us glass-half-empty hacks, we had to go and bring it up with Éamonn Fitzmaurice afterwards.

“Something to work on,” he half-smiled. In fact, it is. Not since February 3 , in their second league game against Mayo in Castlebar, have Kerry found the net.

That’s 120 days (work out the minutes yourself), and failed attempts against Monaghan, Galway, Kildare, Dublin and Tyrone.

And now Clare in Killarney. In itself, it’s not a keep-you-awake-at-night concern, but one can’t remember Clare keeper Eamonn Tubridy called into action too often yesterday either. As Fitzmaurice said, something to work on.

— Tony Leen

Donnelly’s magic moment

It was a moment frozen in time for Fermanagh’s Captain Fantastic Eoin Donnelly as he soared gracefully to grab the most sensational of winning goals.

Fermanagh’s heroic efforts were not to be in vain as Healy park erupted and the net rippled in glorious, thunderous harmony.

Donnelly will lead his side out for an Ulster SFC final at Clones later this month, and no man has done more to get them there.

“The ball came in and I heard a shout from the ’keeper, but thankfully I got a hand to it,” he recalled amid the post-match mayhem and emotion. It could easily have gone over the bar, I could have been clattered and the ball went out, but thankfully we were on the right side of it, the luck was in our favour.”

With either Donegal or Down in the decider, Fermanagh will once again go in as underdogs, a role they’ll happily accept.

“We were completely written off but I can see why – Monaghan are a top-class side with high expectations, and they were probably favourites to win Ulster after they took Tyrone out the last day. We’ll enjoy it but we’ll work hard. We’re not going there to make up the numbers.

“We’re a side that thinks we should be in Ulster finals, we should be able to compete, and we showed that there today.”

— Francis Mooney

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