SATURDAY 7 AUGUST

All-Ireland SHC semi-final
Limerick v Waterford, Croke Park, 5pm

SUNDAY 8 AUGUST

All-Ireland SHC semi-final
Kilkenny v Cork, Croke Park, 3.30pm

ONLINE

Live blogs on RTÉ Sport Online and RTÉ News Now app

TV

Both games live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, from 4pm Saturday and 2.30pm Sunday. Also live on Sky Sports. Highlights on The Sunday Game, RTÉ2, 9.30pm.

RADIO

Live commentaries on Saturday Sport and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1.

WEATHER

Saturday: Blustery outbreaks of rain, merging into longer spells of rain at times, and isolated thunder. Some bright or sunny spells too. Highest temperatures 18 or 19C. Breezes will be mostly moderate to fresh in strength.

Sunday: A scattering of morning showers but it will be mainly dry by the afternoon and it will brighten up with some nice spells of sunshine. Moderate to fresh and gusty westerly winds. Highest temperatures 18 to 20 degrees.

For more, visit met.ie.

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So then. Normality is somewhat restored at Croke Park this weekend with a traditional (well, since 2018) summer hurling semi-final weekend.

24,000 fans will be in attendance - the biggest crowds at an Irish sporting event since the start of the pandemic - and they are in for a treat as Limerick, Waterford, Kilkenny and Cork battle it out for a place in the final in a fortnight's time.

Although it is still an Irish summer so those in the lower tiers will want to bring their ponchos.

Negotiating Treaty obstacle a formidable task

First up, we have the All-Ireland final rematch of Limerick and Waterford.

The reigning champions are deserving favourites, having retained their Munster title with a phenomenal second-half display against Tipperary.

But Waterford also come in on a high after holding off the Premier men in last week's quarter-final.

The question is, which Waterford will show up? The team that was flat against Clare and scraped past Laois or the side that thundered into Galway and Tipp?

Limerick have had three weeks off since the Munster final while it will be Waterford's fourth game in 22 days.

Will the Déise legs be weary or are they now more match-fit than their opponents?

We can expect another furious start from Waterford but the key question is how long they will be able to sustain their all-action style.

Against both Galway (admittedly while down to 14 men) and Tipperary they were reeled in towards the end and you sense Limerick won't let them off the hook in the same way - see the ruthlessness with which they pulled away in the closing stage of last year's Munster final after Waterford had drawn level.

Captionasd

As expected, Aaron Gillane has regained his place in the Limerick full-forward line. He replaces Graeme Mulcahy as Dan Morrissey comes in for Richie English at full-back, the two changes that John Kiely made after half an hour when Limerick were 10 points down against Tipp.

Liam Cahill has kept faith with the same XV who started against Tipperary meaning Conor Gleeson is among the subs on his return from suspension. Iarlaith Daly has not yet recovered from a quad injury that kept him out of the quarter-final.

Waterford have scored eight goals in four games and will need more to overcome a Limerick outfit built for picking off points. But the Treaty have also managed two per game so far, including that memorable solo effort from Kyle Hayes last day out.

"Teams have identified that if they're going to take down Limerick – who score 30+ points – they are going to have score a couple of goals," says 10-time All-Ireland winner Henry Shefflin. "Wateford are goal-thirsty.

"Waterford conceded a lot of goals in the league. We would have questioned Limerick when they needed goals in the Munster final and they answered superbly in the second half.

"They responded like true champions and for that reason alone I think they'll be very focused.

"They can see the speed train of Waterford coming and they’ll go about their business. I think it’ll be tighter than the All-Ireland final last year but that Limerick will have too much."

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon (captain), Kyle Hayes; William O'Donoghue, Darragh O’Donovan; Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Peter Casey, Seamus Flanagan, Aaron Gillane.

Waterford: Shaun O'Brien; Ian Kenny, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Shane Bennett, Kieran Bennett; Jamie Barron, Peter Hogan; Jack Fagan, Jack Prendergast, Stephen Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Patrick Curran.

Subs: Billy Nolan, Kevin Moran, Darragh Lyons, Billy Power, Shane Fives, Michael Kiely, Neil Montgomery, Jake Dillon, Conor Gleeson, Colin Dunford, Mikey Kearney.

Cats coming in quiet for Rebel rumpus

Kilkenny's TJ Reid battles with Mark Coleman and Sean O'Donoghue in the 2019 quarter-final

Sunday's second semi seems harder to call.

Despite easing to a second Leinster title in a row, it's hard to remember a Kilkenny team being so overlooked as All-Ireland contenders.

They shouldn't be. The trademark Brian Cody grit and perseverance till the end was on full display in the epic extra-time win over Wexford and they have adapted their tactics from going direct all the time to playing the ball around a bit more.

It's not quite Cork or Limerick's ultra focus on keeping possession but it does make them less predictable. And if the forecast heavy rain hits you would expect it to bother the men in stripes less.

Eoin Cody has taken some of the scoring burden off TJ's shoulders and they will be confident of outmuscling a very young Cork side.

"Maybe it's because Brian Cody has been there so long and they’ve been at such a high level that we have spoken about them so much, and the newer teams coming through now get more air-time," says Shefflin.

"They have some of the most skilful hurlers and one of the all-time greats in TJ Reid. That narrative is sometimes lost.

"There have been subtle changes in the way they’ve played. I think that has led to an improvement in their performances."

Cork bounced back from their Munster exit to Limerick with impressive wins over Clare and Dublin.

They beat the latter by eight points compared to Kilkenny's nine against a weaker, Covid-impacted version.

The Rebels have scored seven goals in three games, with young guns Shane Kingston (3-02) and Jack O'Connor (1-06) potent threats alongside the still outstanding veteran Patrick Horgan, who scored a hat-trick in defeat when the sides last met in the 2019 quarter-final.

"More so than any other team in the championship, Cork seem to have this thing that if the opportunity arises they are going to go for goal as often as they can," says former Limerick star Shane Dowling.

"Forwards know that they can now take the man on and that the backs can't pull them down - if they’re fouled the chances of getting a penalty are quite high. In previous years you knew you were going to be pulled down and would just get a point anyway.

"If Kilkenny can bring the physicality to it, like they did against Limerick two years ago, there’s only going to be one winner.

"But I don’t think it’s going to be that straightforward. Cork are the fastest team in the country and in Croke Park they can utilise that."

Cody has made three changes to the team that beat Dublin. Michael Carey comes in for hamstring injury victim Conor Browne at wing-back, Conor Fogarty is in for Richie Leahy in midfield and Alan Murphy gets the nod at corner-forward in place of Martin Keoghan.

Niall O'Leary and Luke Meade are both named to start for Cork after apparently shaking off injuries and the only change is Shane Barrett coming into the forwards in place of Shane Kingston - manager Kieran Kingston surprisingly dropping his son despite a third goal in as many championship games against the Dubs last week.

Cork are playing their third weekend on the trot while Kilkenny have had the same three-week break as Limerick.

The Munster men are aiming to end their three-match losing streak in semi-finals while Kilkenny are seeking a second final appearance in three years. Kilkenny won 16 of the 19 previous semis they reached under Brian Cody.

"Cork have that bit of resilience and steel that wasn’t there in 2018," says Shefflin. "They have improved.

"It's a short turnaround for Cork and Kilkenny are improving steadily. I think Kilkenny will have too much."

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Tommy Walsh, Huw Lawlor, Paddy Deegan; James Maher, Padraig Walsh, Michael Carey; Conor Fogarty, Richie Reid; Adrian Mullen, John Donnelly, Billy Ryan; Eoin Cody, TJ Reid, Alan Murphy.

Subs: Darren Brennan, Joey Holden, Ciaran Wallace, Conor Delaney, Darragh Corcoran, Cillian Buckley, Martin Keoghan, Walter Walsh, James Bergin, Richie Hogan, Liam Blanchfield.

Cork: Patrick Collins; Niall O'Leary, Robert Downey, Sean O’Donoghue; Tim O’Mahony, Mark Coleman, Ger Millerick; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Luke Meade; Conor Cahalane, Seamus Harnedy, Robbie O’Flynn; Shane Barrett, Patrick Horgan, Jack O'Connor.

Subs: Ger Collins, Sean O’Leary Hayes, Colm Spillane, Eoin Cadogan, Niall Cashman, Damien Cahalane, Billy Hennessy, Shane Kingston, Alan Cadogan, Alan Connolly, Declan Dalton.

Follow the All-Ireland senior hurling championship semi-finals this weekend with our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app.

Watch Limerick v Waterford live on RTÉ2 or RTÉ Player from 4pm Saturday, and Kilkenny v Cork live on RTÉ2 or RTÉ Player from 2.30pm Sunday.

Watch highlights of all the weekend's action on The Sunday Game at 9.30pm on RTÉ2.

Listen to live and exclusive national radio commentaries on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday and Sunday Sport.