Darach Honan: I would say Limerick have gotten away with an awful lot more than they've been called on
John Kiely and Shane Dowling and all of Limerick were adamant that, having being shown a red card during their round-robin game against Clare, Gearoid Hegarty was extremely hard-done-by.
They weren't the only ones who felt that way, to be fair. His first yellow card was a harsh one, when he was cautioned, basically, because David McInerney stood in his way as he attempted to take a sideline. The second one was also dubious, given that, at the merest flick of Hegarty's hurl, Clare's Aaron Fitzgerald went down like he'd been smacked with a shovel.
But others will argue that, regardless of Fitzgerald's reaction, Hegarty shouldn't have been flicking the hurl in the first place and, in general, he and his team-mates have gotten away with more than they've been pulled up on over the last few years. Aaron Gillane against Tipperary springs to mind.
Kiely, however, feels that Hegarty has been unfairly targeted by refs a stance which, as he spoke on this week's GAA Hour Hurling Show, compelled Darach Honan to take issue with the narrative that Limerick are whiter than white.
"I mean, it's definitely the narrative that Limerick are trying to put out there," the 2013 All-Ireland winner says.
"You know, they were quite strong on that after the Clare-Limerick game that they're very much sinned against and poor auld Limerick but it's not one that I'd be buying you know, at all.
"I think, over the last few years, I would say they've gotten away with an awful lot more than what they've been called on you know and you could say that the red card above in Ennis, you know, it was kind of a borderline call. In my eyes, I don't know why he was swinging the hurley in the first place - the play was over a few seconds and I wouldn't think it was an outrageous call."
Shane Dowling and Davy Fitzgerald felt Gearóid Hegarty received two harsh yellow cards during Limerick's draw against Clare. #RTEGAA #SundayGame pic.twitter.com/OqGu3nymu4
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 15, 2022
"If I compare it to the red card that Ian Galvin got, for instance, for Clare against Cork, and didn't manage to get rescinded, I think Ian Galvin's case was far more clear-cut where it wasn't actually a red card at all so you know, we can all go on with the poor boy act and say we're very much sinned against but I don't think it's a case at all for Limerick and you definitely saw them trying to put out that narrative out on The Sunday Game as well.
"Shane Dowling had his clips picked out of Gearoid Hegarty who being pulled to the ground but you had that going on all over the field on both sides."
As a neutral in this debate, the show's host Diarmuid Lyng asked why Limerick have received more red cards than other teams.
"It's the Balotelli thing isn't it," Lyng says.
"It's like 'why always me?' and it's like well, 'why is it always you?"
It's guaranteed to be a momentous occasion on Sunday, when the neighbours clash in Thurles on Munster final day, but Honan feels that, if they want to win, Clare will need to up their game from when they last met, and drew, in the round-robin.
"The physicality that Limerick bring - it just brings you into a different place mentally, straight away - you're no longer in your comfort zone. You're out of your comfort zone straight away. Clare and Limerick had a great game three weeks ago, and the intensity was just through the roof, but you could see at times that the Clare lads were lagging that bit more than the Limerick lads in terms of physicality.
"Clare haven't played at that intensity for a few years, while Limerick are used to it. So Clare will have to maintain that for longer in the Munster final. Anything less just will not be good enough."