Diarmuid O’Sullivan: Wounded Limerick are a massive ask for Kilkenny

Legendary Cork full-back Diarmuid O’Sullivan looks ahead to a fest of hurling at the weekend and feels Davy Fitzgerald may motivate Clare from the opposition dugout…

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If there’s one thing I learned over the years, it’s that you’d be foolish to back against Kilkenny because, when you think you’ve opportunity to get them, that’s when they come back and bite you!

What you’ll get from The Cats is the utmost honesty and you’ll always get 100 per cent out of them.

They’ve been through two tough battles with Galway, a big physical side, and are heading into another one with another burly enough outfit in Limerick.

We’ve seen how much the three-week turnaround has affected teams in a round robin series. It could be a big factor on Sunday.

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Wonderful Wally Walsh

Since Walter Walsh first came on the scene, this has probably been one of his most consistent years in a Kilkenny jersey.

He’s improved all around and he’s a lot more involved – not only in the scoring stakes – but in assisting scores too.

He’s working his arse off to get the ball back for his team and his distribution has come on too.

If he was still involved in the Galway game last Sunday – with Kilkenny a point down – I believe The Cats would have pushed and won it.

Leaning to Limerick

It’s like the Leinster final has kind of been a mini round-robin series with an All-Ireland quarter-final thrown into the bargain for Kilkenny.  So, it’s going to be a massive ask for the players – both physically and mentally.

I would be very, very hesitant to say that Limerick will win. But, there’s a couple of contributing factors.

There’s the freshness, the youth and Limerick have legs. They will be able to match up to Kilkenny physically.

John Kiely’s side has been hurt by the criticisms received after the Clare defeat. You wind them couple of things together and you have a bit of a wounded animal, with plenty of ability coming into an All-Ireland quarter final against a team who, on the other hand, have given a hell of a lot already.

You just fear that Kilkenny really can’t go to the well once more. Not this time, on such a short turnaround, and the conditions they’ve been playing in will have hampered them greatly as well.

I’d be very slow to back against Kilkenny, but there’s just a couple of reasons stacking in Limerick’s favour at the moment. I could be eating my words come Monday morning though.

Clare are past Davy hangover

For the first time, Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor have put their mark on this Clare team.

They were suffering a Davy hangover – their style of play, the way fellas were still conducting themselves on the field and the manner in which they played the game. But, the lads have kind of stamped their own authority on it now.

So, I don’t believe Davy will deter them. If anything, seeing him in the opposite dug-out will be more of a motivating factor.

Look, there’s been a lot of criticism, but this team has really pushed on since Davy left.

They’d be very naïve to forget the fact that Davy brought them to an All-Ireland. But still, there’s a competitive edge to a player at this level, and that will always say, ‘I want to win’ no matter who you’re facing.

On the other side, Wexford are progressing, but they need to win big games now.

To be a real success, they need to beat Clare and put up a massive performance.

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What do you think?