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I’m heading to this game to cover it, and it’s another tough assignment for Laois. To be honest, I’ve been disappointed with them so far. The handicap against Clare the last out was 10 points and I thought they would cover that, but they lost by 13 in the end. They were not good against Wexford or Dublin either, and it’s just been a poor National League from Laois to date. Seamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett and his team are not going to get any sympathy off Kilkenny here either.
Kilkenny boss Brian Cody doesn’t do sympathy and we saw that in their previous game against Wexford. He does not care who the opposition are, he just wants momentum for his team and you only get that by winning. I believe he’ll be eager to keep the momentum The Cats currently have going here too by clocking up a big score.
TJ Reid was on fire for Kilkenny last weekend – scoring 1-18 on the day – while Billy Ryan grabbed 1-04 from play for himself. You are also going to have fringe players looking to make a Championship case for themselves.
Nowlan Park is a difficult venue to go to, and this is an extremely hard fixture for Laois as well. With that said, I reckon Kilkenny will cover the 15 points on offer.
Life really doesn’t get any easier for Westmeath in Division 1A of the National Hurling League. They had a 17-point handicap on their last day out against Cork, and we were saying that 17 points was just about doable for Cork because they were scoring goals.
But, Cork went and scored seven goals, while Westmeath conceded a whopping total of 7-27 that day, to lose by 33 points. Westmeath were unlucky in their previous outing against Waterford, but that was very much a second-string Déise side they played. They also got a good beating from Galway in their opening League fixture too and unfortunately it’s not going to get any easier on Sunday for Shane O’Brien’s men when they face Tipperary.
Tipperary come into this on the back of a very good victory over Galway two weeks ago and you would firmly believe that their manager Liam Sheedy will rest a few key stars for this match. That said the players coming in for them will want to throw up their hand and show Sheedy – along with his management team – what they can do before the Championship begins.
The handicap available for this contest is 19 points and that sounds like an awful lot to beat. You could well see Tipperary bang in four or five goals here and that’s not being disrespectful to Westmeath, it’s just a reflection of the calibre of opposition they are playing at the moment. But, Westmeath had one of their best performances of the last few years against Tipperary in the 2017 Championship and I just believe the handicap might be a little too high for Tipp to cover. The fact that Westmeath are at home as well helps their cause too.
Waterford had a very good win over the All-Ireland Champions Limerick on their previous outing. It was probably an expected result going into the second half as they began with a numerical advantage after Séamus Flanagan was sent off for Limerick after just 28 minutes. But, The Déise got the job done with an impressive second period showing and the word on the street is that Waterford targeted that game as one to win. So, we might see a couple of changes from them this weekend.
On the other hand, Galway are coming in off the back of a defeat to Tipperary and they’ll be keen to get back to winning ways here. Salthill is a hard place for anyone to get a result, we saw that when Limerick went there and failed to get anything.
This is a big fixture though, and it’s possible these two could meet in a big game in the Championship later in the summer. But, I feel Galway’s need is greater for a victory on Sunday and I believe The Tribesman will really go after this match.
On the Waterford side, their manager Liam Cahill will be delighted with the Limerick victory and may look at a few different opinions for this clash. With The Déise possibly set to make a couple of changes, I believe Galway will win this match.
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