Michael Duignan: Limerick need big performance to stop the Cats

Updated: Sunday, 10 Aug 2014 13:52 | Comments

It's 1973 since Limerick last beat Kilkenny in the championship
It's 1973 since Limerick last beat Kilkenny in the championship

Limerick will have to be at their very best if they are to prevent Kilkenny from reaching an eighth All-Ireland hurling final in nine years.

That's the view of RTÉ analyst and former Offaly star Michael Duignan ahead of Sunday's semi-final clash between the counties at Croke Park.

Duignan also believes that the hunger is back in the Kilkenny camp after a 2013 season in which they did not feature at the business end of affairs.

2014 has, so far, seen the Cats retain their Allianz League crown, while after a gap of three years, the Leinster title was regained

The additions to the Kilkenny set-up this year have made a huge difference, according to Duignan, who said: "Kilkenny have re-built their panel and management team this year.

"If you take the Leinster final; Henry Shefflin, Tommy Walsh , Michael Fennelly, Richie Power and Aidan Fogarty all came on. They have 30 All-Ireland medals and 24 All Stars between them.

"Their options off the bench are incredible and they can fill any gap if it arises. There seems to be a great team ethic about them again. The hunger is back.

Limerick Expect

Duignan, however, believes Limerick won't be found wanting against KIlkenny.

“I don’t think you can write them off", he added.

"TJ Ryan [manager] has a very strong personality. He was a determined hurler himself and you have a team in his liking that will turn up on Sunday.

"Against Cork in the Munster final, they had loads of chances early and didn’t take them. Cork eventually got a run on them and won by six points

"I thought they were brilliant the last day against Wexford in Thurles. Their full-back line, from a hurling point of view, are outstanding. The midfield is very mobile and upfront they have all sorts of options.

"They have power through the likes of Kevin Downes and Declan Hannon; pace from Graham Mulcahy and David Breen and accuracy from Shane Dowling. They are a threat to anybody."

Despite all that, Duignan believes that the Munster men will have to really pull out all the stops to reach their first final since 2007.

"I think it’s going to take a phenomenal effort from Limerick to stop Kilkenny. To me, Kilkenny will be in the All-Ireland final come Sunday evening," he concluded.  

Watch live coverage of Kilkenny v Limerick on RTÉ Two television, RTÉ Player and worldwide on GAAGO.

Live radio coverage on RTÉ Radio 1.

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