Hurling fever is gripping Limerick and Cork this week as the two counties wait for their big Munster Senior Hurling Final showdown. The countdown to Sunday is now well and truly underway as Limerick for the first time ever go in search of back to back minor and senior doubles, and Cork seek a first senior hurling title since 2006.

The senior final will be preceded by the minor decider featuring, for the second year in a row, the novel pairing of Limerick and Waterford. Both games are in Cork’s Pairc Uí Chaoimh with the minor getting underway at 2pm and the senior showdown at 4pm.

It will be a nostalgic day for hurling followers, especially Cork supporters as it is the last big game at Pairc Uí Chaoimh in its present form. The stadium which was opened in 1976 is set to undergo a major revamp and redevelopment, work on which is set to commence later this year.

Few games in recent years have captured the imagination of the hurling public like Sunday’s final. They both did it the hard way to get there, Limerick defeating Tipperary for a second year in a row this time in Semple Stadium, while Cork after defeating Waterford in the quarter final after a replay had to face the biggest task in, All-Ireland champions Clare.

Nowhere is the excitement more palpable than along the Limerick-Cork border where bragging rights on Sunday evening are of the utmost importance.

Jimmy Barry Murphy in his second reign as Cork manager will be aiming to bring Munster hurling’s top prize back to Leeside for a record 51st time, while his counterpart, new Lim-erick manager T.J. Ryan, in his first year in charge, will be aiming to mastermind a 20th success and a first back-to-back since 1980-81

Many local players are involved in the respective panels for Sunday. It will be a very special day for the Kanturk club which will have three representatives, Anthony Nash, Lorcán McLough-lin and Aidan Walsh and they will be joined by other locals Jamie Coughlan, New-townshandrum, William Egan, Kilbrin and Mark Ellis, Millstreet.

In the Limerick colours will be Gavin O’Mahony, Paudie O’Brien, Graeme Mulcahy, Barry Hennessy, Kilmallock, Nicky and Thomas Quaid, Effin, Stephen Walsh, Glenroe, Richie McCarthy, Blackrock, Conor Allis, Croom, James Ryan, Garryspillane, Paul Browne, Bruff and Aaron Murphy, Hospital/Herbertstown.

The scramble for precious tickets continues unabated as hurling fans endeavour to be part of a very special occasion which will be played out in front of what is expected to be a sell-out 32,168 capacity crowd.

Both Limerick camps are reporting a clean bill of health ahead of the finals as the county chase a senior and minor double back-to-back for the first time. Jimmy Barry Murphy is sweating on the fitness of Mark Ellis but otherwise is reporting everybody fit and raring to go.

Standing in the Shannonsiders’s way of a slice of history are Cork legend Jimmy Barry Murphy and his highly motivated and skilful Cork charges and a much fancied Waterford minor team.

It promises to be a very special occasion and it is all to play for on Sunday, (see pullout finals special on pages 45 to 61).