Saturday 27 July

Limerick v Kilkenny, Croke Park, 6pm

ONLINE
Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 5.30pm.

RADIO
Live commentary on RTÉ Radio's Saturday Sport and Raidió na Gaeltachta

TV
Live coverage on The Saturday Game RTÉ 2 from 5.0pm. Also live on Sky Sports and overseas on GAAGO.
Highlights on The Sunday Game on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 9.30pm. 

WEATHER
Dry on Saturday with sunny spells and light westerly breezes. Isolated showers possible. Highest temperatures 19 to 21 degrees.. For more go to met.ie.

Limerick looking to join an elite club

Brian Cody's time in charge of Kilkenny has been marked by one phenomenon; counties don't beat the Cats consecutively in the championship.

Cork were the first county to get the better of a Brian Cody managed Kilkenny team when they claimed the Liam McCarthy in 1999. But the Cats would overturn them in their next clash, the 2003 All-Ireland final.

Michael Jacob's late, late goal helped Wexford to shock the then defending All-Ireland and provincial champions in 2004, but the Yellowbellies wouldn't taste victory over their neighbours again until 2017.

In the interim period, Kilkenny handed down some ungracious beatings to the Slaneysiders, including a double-scores Leinster final win in 2007.

Will Limerick do on Saturday what only Galway have done before?

This sequence goes on, Galway (2001/2004), Cork (2004/2006), Galway (2005/2006), Tipperary (2010/2011), Galway (2012/2012), Dublin (2013/2014), Cork (2013/2019), and Wexford (2017/2018) have all beaten the Cats only to lose when the counties next met in the summer.

Incredibly, the run was only broken in June of this year. Galway beat Kilkenny in the 2018 Leinster final replay, before repeating the trick at Nowlan Park earlier this summer.

A bit like the number 11 bus, having not seen one in ages, are we going to see two counties record a consecutive victory over Kilkenny in quick succession?

Can John Kiely join this elite group, which currently contains only Micheál Donoghue, and become the second manager to defeat Brian Cody's charges in championship twice on the spin?

Dealing with the favourites' tag

Limerick come into this game as defending All-Ireland champions, and their hang-up over beating Kilkenny in Championship was dispelled last year, after near misses in 2014 and 2017.

A first-day defeat to Cork was a blip on the card, but the Shannonsiders have found their groove since then, and that was emphatically proven in their Munster final win over Tipperary.

Declan Hannon, Cian Lynch, Gearoid Hegarty, and Graeme Mulcahy were re-called by manager John Kiely for that game, and the rest is history.

The Limerick players celebrate last year's win over Kilkenny

Kilkenny building a head of steam

Kilkenny, meanwhile, struggled somewhat in Leinster. They lost to the two sides they would consider their biggest rivals, Galway and Wexford, and failed to win the province for only the sixth time in Cody's 21 seasons at the helm.

But, a bit like their opponents on Saturday, the Cats are seeing the return of some big players at the right time of the year.

"Kilkenny are getting their best players on the pitch at the right time, with the exception of Cillian Buckley, whose form and fitness hasn't come right back," said former Waterford manager Derek McGrath after they beat Cork the last day.

"Richie Hogan is re-integrated into the team, Walter Walsh is making a big impact at half-time. So for me, they're just getting it right when it counts."

"They like nothing more than to be the underdogs, and everyone writing them off, like they were."

Cody won't mind the underdogs tag

Limerick laid down a marker in the Allianz League, going to Nowlan Park in March and emerging nine-point winners.

A simplistic analysis might suggest that keeping TJ Reid quiet would nullify Kilkenny. But the Ballyhale Shamrocks man was kept scoreless from play against Wexford in the Leinster round-robin and against Cork the last day; the Cats lost neither game.

Regardless of Reid's form, RTÉ analyst Michael Duignan says Limerick's defence can win them the game.

"Their full-back line is so settled," Duignan said on RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland this week.

"Sean Finn, Mick Casey and Richie English are one of the best hurling full-back lines I have ever seen. They do their jobs really well, the basics really well.

"The way they attack the ball, win the ball and then look up and pick out a man is unprecedented in terms of their skill levels.

"Kilkenny will try to move guys around to fill gaps. We saw Pádraig Walsh the last day going back to corner-back to pick up Alan Cadogan. Individually, Kilkenny have good players and will give it everything.

"However, the Limerick backline have a more settled look, are that little bit more solid.

"In what will be a rip-roaring contest, Limerick will scrape through."

Last 5 Championship meetings

2007 All-Ireland final: Kilkenny 2-19 Limerick 1-15
2012 All-Ireland quarter-final: Kilkenny 4-16 Limerick 1-16
2014 All-Ireland semi-final: Kilkenny 2-13 Limerick 0-17
2017 All-Ireland round 1 qualifier: Kilkenny 0-20 Limerick 0-17
2018 All-Ireland quarter-final: Limerick 0-27 Kilkenny 1-22

Teams

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Cian Lynch, William O'Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Graeme Mulcahy, Peter Casey.

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Huw Lawlor, Joey Holden; Conor Fogarty, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Conor Browne, Richie Leahy; John Donnelly, TJ Reid, Walter Walsh; Adrian Mullen, Colin Fennelly, Richie Hogan.

Listen to the RTÉ GAA Podcast at Apple Podcasts, SoundcloudSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow Limerick v Kilkenny on Saturday (6pm) via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app. Watch live coverage on RTÉ2 from 5pm and the RTÉ Player and listen to radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.