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Weekend Talking Points

Hurling League action heats up with plot lines galore as big hitters cross paths on a cracking weekend in February

Treaty and Banner rivalry to light up League

There is always something spicy about meetings between Limerick and Clare, no matter the time of year, and tomorrow night in the Gaelic Grounds will be no different.

There is plenty of talk about the shadow boxing taking place throughout the League given its proximity to championship but these Munster neighbours don’t know how to hold back and there could be a hurling feast in store.

John Kiely’s Treaty met Brian Lohan’s Banner three times between League/championship last year with nothing separating them at the end of normal time on each occasion.

Limerick needed extra-time to eventually prevail in a classic Munster final and Niall Moran is expecting another “humdinger” with the former Treaty star knowing the rivalry inside out given that his brother James is involved as a coach/selector under Lohan.

Hold onto your hats with plenty more drama in store.

Family rivalries add further spice on many fronts

You’ll often have brothers lining out alongside each other at club and county level with names like Bonnar, Dooley, Whelahan, O’Connor and Maher synonymous with a family tradition in the GAA.

It’s rare that siblings are fighting it out for the same place within a county set-up, though, and that’s a position which Pat Ryan will become well-accustomed to in his role as Cork hurling boss.

The fight for the goalkeeping position is between the Collins brothers, Patrick and Ger, with the former edging out his younger sibling at present and that surely creates an interesting dynamic at the family dinner table.

The Ballinhassig brothers are not the only ones in that position either given that the Downey siblings, Eoin and Rob, are duking it out for the No 3 shirt in front of them.

That may pale in comparison to the position which Adrian and Shane O’Brien find themselves in tomorrow, however, as a father and son from Kilmallock operate against each other in different camps.

Adrian joined Brian Lohan’s Clare backroom team for this season as strength and conditioning coach where he will have a few meetings with his son Shane, who is making a name for himself as an attacking option for the All-Ireland SHC champions.

Interesting times for all the families involved.

Henry’s chequered past with the Rebels

There are few who have a more storied history with an opposition county than Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin has with Cork.

Shefflin was only a rookie starting out at senior level when the Rebels edged out the Cats in the 1999 All-Ireland SHC final but the boot was on the other foot seven years later when he helped to thwart their three-in-a-row efforts.

Donal Óg Cusack famously branded Kilkenny as “Stepford Wives” while Shefflin retorted many years later when saying that they saw Cork as “having a little too much of a welcome for themselves”.

Shefflin led the 2009 League battering of a Rebel squad which was patched-up, under-prepared and vulnerable after their second strike with the Ballyhale Shamrocks attacker scoring one of the best points of his career in that famous 27-point beating in Nowlan Park.

It was misery for Sheflflin when they met in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final, though, as he suffered a cruciate knee ligament rupture that would ultimately play its part in seeing their five-in-a-row dreams go up in smoke the following month against Tipperary.

Shefflin’s only championship sending off at inter-county level, which was subsequently rescinded, came when the Rebels dumped them out in the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final and there has always been drama when he faces the Leesiders.

Even last year, Shefflin’s Galway stared a disastrous exit to the championship in the face following their Leinster final flop against Kilkenny before they regrouped and edged past Cork in a nervy All-Ireland quarter-final.

More drama is likely to be in store in Salthill on Sunday when another chapter in this rivalry is written.

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