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After being so poor in losing to Galway on their first day out, we are surely going to see a reaction from Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford this weekend. There are is no better man than Davy to get the dressing room to respond from defeat, and I know that from experience.
For their part, Clare were below par as they saw off a brave Laois side by a point last week. But, the big thing to come out of that game was the sending off for David McInerney. Outside of Tony Kelly, he’s probably next in line as The Banner County’s top performer. He’s going to be a colossal loss for them, as he’s suspension was upheld for this game.
If Clare had him on board, I’d have it still about 55/45 in Wexford favour. But without him it’s a seriously uphill task for Brian Lohan’s charges. We know there is a bit of history there between the two managers in this one too, with Fitzgerald and Lohan being former teammates. That should make this a feisty affair, but I believe Wexford have what it takes to get over the line on Saturday.
This was a mouthwatering clash as soon as it came out of the hat for Round 2 of the Qualifiers last Monday. If this game was where it should be in the height of summer, you would be looking at a 40-45,000-person sell-out. It’s a hard game to call I’ll admit, it really depends on which team actually turns up on the day.
You’d expect Tipperary to come on from their loss to Limerick in Munster, there should be a big improvement from them for this match. But, I have to ask, what Cork side are we going to get? Will it be malfunctioning Rebels outfit we saw against Waterford, or the Cork team with a bit more hunger and drive that battered Dublin?
Tipperary won’t need reminding that the last time they faced Cork as All-Ireland champions, The Rebels management team of Keiran Kingston and Diarmuid O’Sullivan masterminded a victory over them. Something is telling me, despite my criticism of them in recent weeks, that there is value to be found backing Cork to win this.
Galway arrive into this Leinster Hurling final on the back of a very impressive showing against Wexford in the semi-final. Outside of Limerick, they look the most likely team to challenge for All-Ireland honours. But, you can never, ever rule out The Cats of Kilkenny!
We saw it last year, everyone wrote off Kilkenny and they ended up in the All-Ireland final again. I honestly can’t believe the pundits have been so quick to dismiss them again this year! Galway have seemed to have Brian Cody’s number over the last few years though, and The Tribesman have won three of the last four Championship meetings of the pair.
But, any team that has the likes of TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly in their starting XV has a big chance. I reckon Kilkenny are going to bring everything they have to the table to win this game. I don’t think The Cats will want to be the first team ever to lose three Leinster finals in-a-row, so the need is greater with Cody’s men. I’ve said Kilkenny would win Leinster from the start of this Championship, and I’m not changing that prediction now.
As much as I hate to say it, it is going to be a mammoth task for Liam Cahill and my beloved Waterford to win the Munster Hurling Championship this weekend. They are up against Limerick, and the way the John Kiely’s side performed last time out against Tipperary – scoring 3-23 in horrendous conditions – was frightening.
I do believe this game will be a bit closer than most pundits will predict though, the conditions forecast for Sunday could play a part in that. Waterford should also bring a better work ethic to this than what Clare and Tipperary did earlier on when they played Limerick.
Limerick should win though, but The Déise should give them a scare along the way. Waterford will throw everything at The Treaty County and should land the (+6) handicap available to them here, even if they don’t bring home the trophy at the end of the contest.
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