Limerick boss John Kiely will come up against an old friend on Sunday when he tries to lead his side into another All-Ireland SHC final.

Shane O'Neill, at the helm in Galway, will try to mastermind victory over his native county while also coming up against several players he managed when at the helm of Limerick kingpins Na Piarsaigh, with whom he won an All-Ireland club title in 2016.

Kiely aired his huge respect for O'Neill, and the Tribesmen, ahead of their mouthwatering clash as an absorbing winter hurling championship heads for its climax.

"Myself and Shane played hurling together since we were 14 years of age," he told RTÉ Sport.

"We know each other extremely well.

"We all have huge regard and respect for each other. On this occasion we're on opposite sides, so I'm sure they'll be giving it everything they can, and likewise, we'll be giving it everything we can.

"They're special occasions. All-Ireland semi-final matches over the last number of years have been incredible encounters, full of drama, really, really tight and never over until the final whistle is blown. I'm sure we'll have something similar on Sunday."

Limerick come into this game with the Munster crown in the bag thanks to a four-point win against Waterford ten days ago. Galway had to get past Tipperary in a tense All-Ireland quarter-final last weekend. 

Kiely expects a massive test.

"Galway were superb on Saturday. They were full of energy, full of strength, very direct in their running, scored two great goals.

"They're a fine team that have been there or thereabouts the last 10 years. They have superstars who can step up with big scores when it matters most. We have a big challenge ahead."

O'Neill has already admitted that he and and the Na Piarsaigh players agreed to cut off contact until after match. 

With friends briefly becoming foes, the Galway boss said: "Obviously I know the boys very well, particularly the Na Piarsaigh lads, and there's seven of them on the squad I think.

"I’d be regularly in contact with them in my own club obviously, but we decided we would stop after the provincial finals."

O'Neill also suggested that the Galway management team's intimate knowledge of the opposition would count for little.

"We would know the players, but that's maybe a hindrance, in that you might have preconceived ideas about players, and that is like any management going into a particular set-up, as well, having that element of freshness and seeing something different," he added. 

"I am not too sure if it will make much of a difference."

Watch Waterford v Kilkenny (6pm Saturday) and Limerick v Galway (4pm Sunday) live on RTÉ2, listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 or follow our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News app. Highlights on The Sunday Game (9.30pm RTÉ2).