Limerick v Tipperary
Limerick and Tipperary open the Munster Championship on Sunday with the home side coming off the back of Division 1B promotion while the visitors, so impressive in the league, failed to fire when it mattered on league final day. Tipperary looked far and away the best team throughout the league, with Jason Forde in top class form hitting 7-72, but their performance against Kilkenny in the league final will have many Tipperary fans worried.
They seemed to be outfought by Kilkenny in Nowlan Park, but the return of Seamus Callanan is sure to be a huge boost to this Tipperary side. Limerick finally gained promotion from Division 1B this season, and they have built on their under-21 success in recent years, with Cian Lynch making a huge impact since his move to midfield. Four points or less have separated these sides in four of their last five championship meetings, and it took extra-time to separate them in the league semi-final, so expect a close encounter again on Sunday.
Selection: Limerick +3
Cork v Clare
Cork survived a relegation play-off against Waterford to secure their place in Division 1A for another season, but John Meyler’s side will be worried by their league performances after a stellar year in 2017. Cork were shock winners of the Munster Championship last year, defeating Clare in the final, but the loss of manager Kieran Kingston and his backroom team seems to have had knock-on effects this year. Clare started the year very brightly and were very unfortunate to lose out to Limerick in the league quarter-final after a free-taking competition and the joint-management of Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor, now in their second season, seem to have regrouped a team that have failed to perform since their All Ireland win in 2013. Clare were four point winners when these sides met in the league, and although Cork should improve from that, Clare will be confident of getting a result in Pairc Ui Chaoimh
Selection: Clare to win
Tyrone v Monaghan
If you dislodge a demolition job from Dublin from your memory, Tyrone’s 2017 championship campaign looked like this – 11-point win over Derry (0-22 to 0-11), 9-point win over Donegal (1-21 to 1-12), 8-point win over Down (2-17 to 0-15) and 18-point win over Armagh (3-17 to 0-8). They scored an average of 21.25 in those four games and conceded an average of just 12.25 points per game. After a shaky start when Mickey Harte was experimenting, Tyrone finished their league campaign with three straight wins against Donegal (2-13 to 1-10), Mayo (2-14 to 0-8) and Kerry (1-16 to 0-14).
Their five-point defeat of the Kingdom, despite Ronan O’Neill missing a penalty, was their first over Kerry in eight years. It was a monkey off their backs and teed them up perfectly for the summer ahead. Monaghan’s price for this tie collapsed after their shock win over Dublin in the final round of group games of the league but, by that stage, the Dubs were already safely through to the decider so it was a bit of a nothing encounter. Tyrone have home advantage in Omagh and can win convincingly.
Selection: Tyrone -2