SUNDAY 19 AUGUST

Throw-in
Croke Park, 3.30pm

Online 
Live blog on RTÉ.ie and on the RTÉ News Now app from 11.30am.

Radio
Live and exclusive national commentary on Sunday Sport, RTÉ Radio 1, with commentary from Pauric Lodge and Anthony Daly.

TV
The Sunday Game Live from 2.15pm on RTÉ 2 will have commentary from Marty Morrissey and Michael Duignan and analysis from Ger Loughnane, Henry Shefflin and Liam Sheedy.

Coverage also on Sky Sports and on GAAGO. Highlights of all the weekend's hurling and camogie action, including the Hurling Team of the Year announcement, on The Sunday Game, RTÉ2 from 9.30pm. 

'The Dressing Room' hosted by Jacqui Hurley and Darren Frehill, with contributions from John Mullane, Anna Geary, Tomás Mulcahy and Shane McGrath, will preview the final on the RTÉ Player and RTÉ News Now from 11.30am.

Past 5 Championship Meetings
2005: Galway 1-18 Limerick 2-14 (All-Ireland qualifiers)
1981: Galway 4-16 Limerick 2-17 (All-Ireland semi-final replay)
1981: Galway 1-08 Limerick 0-11 (All-Ireland semi-final draw) 
1980
: Galway 2015 Limerick 3-09 (All-Ireland final)
1963: Limerick 3-09 Galway 2-07 (Munster quarter-final)

Intriguing pairing in the first August final

An All-Ireland hurling final before the tiara is placed on the new Rose of Tralee. 

Well, whatever about its position in the calendar, hurling’s biggest day is still one to savour.  It rarely lets you down. You have to go back to 2008 for the last one-sided decider as Kilkenny blew Waterford away early on en route to a 23-point victory.

Since then the thrill levels have varied from year to year but the expectation is after a summer of more games and an absorbing semi-final weekend at HQ that this Galway-Limerick finale could be a blockbuster in the making. 

Galway, the defending champions, will be out to emulate the side of 1987 & 88. They say you have to lose one to win one, but that Galway side lost two finals before they achieved their back-to-back. Indeed, Cyril Farrell’s men controversially lost the semi-final in 1989 (Antrim were waiting in the final) in a summer where the Tony Keady affair garnered many column inches.

Think about it, the Tribesemen could have won five-in-a-row.

In this decade, Galway tasted final defeats in 2012 and ’15 before finally ending a 29-year wait last September. In 2016, they narrowly lost to Tipp in the semi, so they were a side on the rise.

Micheál Donoghue’s shrewd stewardship and the addition of Lukasz Kirszenstein as strength and conditioning coach no doubt helped the Tribes to get over the line.

There’s an edge to this Galway team, physically they are imposing, and the manner in which they navigated their way towards this decider has been impressive. Kilkenny in the Leinster final and, more especially Clare in the All-Ireland semi, tested their mettle. They came through. There’s nothing windy about this Galway team would be the boastful claim from many of their supporters.

On past failures, current captain David Burke told RTÉ Sport: "Before I've been a part of teams that have maybe lost tight games - by a point to Tipp in 2010, and different games to Kilkenny as well. It was more of a mentality based thing and probably a bit of softness in us.

"It's not down to the quality of players we had, it was maybe just a natural thing that was out there and progressed in Galway as a hurling public or fraternity, something that was let creep into the hurling senior team."

On the back of recent minor and U21 success, there was the expectation that Limerick would emerge as a serious senior force again. Did many see them contesting an All-Ireland final this year? Probably not, but they are there on merit.

On 11 March last, the Shannonsiders came from eight-points down at the break to overhaul Sunday's opponents in a winner-takes-all game in league Division 1B. Promotion to the top flight after many years of trying was a notable way to kickstart the year.

Come championship time, John Kiely's men were flying against Tipp in their Munster opener, were even better in the draw against Cork the next day and then put Waterford to the sword. A ticket to the All-Ireland series was in their pocket, but not a Munster final appearance after a below-par performance against Clare - their only blip to date.

A facile win over Carlow was followed by an encounter where more heads were raised at what this Limerick team could do. Kilkenny were sent packing at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage.

Three of Limerick's 27 points came from placed balls - two frees and a sideline cut - and they were also calm and composed when hitting quick scores following Richie Hogan's late goal for the Cats. 

And then when it all looked lost, a late surge reeled in Cork in the semi as the introduction of Shane Dowling and Pat Ryan helped them push on in extra-time

Unlike 2007, when expectations of success were based purely on folly, Limerick have a real chance of success here. 

Former Limerick star Ciarán Carey believes that the current crop of Treaty players are the best he’s seen come out of the county. 

He told 2fm's Game On: "I wasn’t surprised because at the start of the year I could see what was manifesting during the league campaign, that it was possibly the strongest and the best squad that I’ve seen coming out of Limerick in my time.

"When you see that, you have to say it as you see and it’s their time now. 

"There’s a lot more in this squad, even when you get Sunday out of the way.

"I believe that Limerick have another two or three gears in them. When you’re facing an All-Ireland final, that is going to maximise the potential that you have as an individual and as a team."  

Player watch

Mike Casey (Limerick)

Much of the pre-match talk will be how Limerick full-back Casey deals with Johnny Glynn. In terms of height and stature, this is no contest but Casey has warmed to the task of manning the square.

John Conlon was the only player to give the Na Piarsaigh player some discomfort this summer, but collectively the Green and White were all off colour that day in Ennis.

Casey will have to be tenacious in the tackle and go all out in his effort to win the ball from Glynn’s clutches. Limerick may opt to drop a man back if the aerial bombardment starts early, but as was shown against Cork, the desire to defend as if their life depended on it was there. That adventure will need to be present again. 

Padraig Mannion (Galway)

Galway may be have reached a consecutive All-Ireland final, but many of their star names have yet to show their true form this season. That can't be said of Mannion, a player who is most comfortable on the ball and he excelled when deployed as a sweeper against Clare in the replay. 

Another All Star should be heading his way in early November - maybe even Hurler of the Year.

Did you know   

Limerick have been in five All-Ireland finals since last winning the title in 1973 - unfortunately for them they lost them all (1974 v Kilkenny, 1980 v Galway, 1994 v Offaly, 1996 v Wexford and 2007 v Kilkenny).

Galway are unbeaten in 13 championship games (won 11, drawn 2) since losing to Tipp in the 2016 All-Ireland semi.

The Treaty have win 14, drawn one and lost two of their 17 competitive games played so far this year.

The Tribes have won 10, drawn two and lost two of their 14 competitive games played so far this year. 

Limerick have seven All-Irelands to their name from 16 final appearances.

Galway have five All-Irelands to their name from 23 final appearances.

Remembering 1980

Teams
Galway: James Skehill; Adrian Tuohy, Daithí Burke, John Hanbury; Padraic Mannion, Gearóid McInerney, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen, David Burke; Joseph Cooney, Joe Canning, Jonathan Glynn; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Cathal Mannion.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Graeme Mulcahy.

Richie Power's verdict

"This is not a foregone conclusion by any stretch, Galway are favourites and deservedly so. If they can produce a 60-70 minute performance they'll win it.

"However, the strength of Limerick's panel could be a serious factor. If they are still in it after the first 25 minutes then they will have enough coming off the bench with 20-25 minutes to go to get over the line.

"This final might have come a little too soon for Limerick. If Limerick play like they did in the quarter and the semi-final then we're in for a hell of a game.

"I'm just leaning towards Galway by two or three points based on how they've started the last few games.

"That said, I very much expect this Limerick team to win Liam MacCarthy in the next two or three years."

Weather

A humid and warm day for many on Sunday, with temperatures in the high teens or low twenties. A damp, wet start with rain, mist and low cloud for a time in the morning, but turning drier and somewhat brighter for the afternoon and evening in most places, but there will be some light showers. For more go to met.ie