If it feels after the first five games that this year’s Munster Hurling Championship has been special, that’s is because it has.
This is the fourth year in which a similar format of a five-team round-robin championship has been played.
Through the first five games to be played in each of those four seasons 2023 has produced the tightest margins of victory and the most number of goals.
Saturday night’s draw has been almost matched by a one-point and a two-point margin in each of the previous two full rounds and like its nearest rival in the competitive stakes, 2018, there has yet to be a double-digit win for any of the teams.
2019 was the reverse of this year to date with the fewest number of goals and the widest winning margins.
Looking ahead to what this might mean in the second half of the Championship, 2019 remained the most one-sided with the aggregate winning margin of 53 points matched exactly in the second five games.
In 2018 and 2022 the aggregate winning margin increased by almost two points per game so if history is a guide we may have seen the closest of the hurling already.
Looking at the performance of the dominant Limerick side over the same period, last year was the only one in which they won their opening two games, by 11 points over Cork and seven over Waterford.
In 2019 they beat Waterford by 20 points having lost by seven to Cork. In 2018 they drew with Cork and then beat Tipperary by six.
Last year Clare were eliminated from the All-Ireland with four points in the Munster Championship. In a tight year again it may be that the reigning All Ireland Champions will need to get something from both their remaining games, against Cork and Tipperary who presently sit above them in the table.