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If you are to go on form, then there is only one winner in this game, and that’s Antrim. There seems to be a great buzz around the hurlers in the county and The Saffrons have been the story of the National League so far. Their only below par performance was against Dublin, and they were probably a bit tired going into that as it was their third week on-the-trot playing.
Antrim have just been magnificent to date. They were brilliant in their home win over Clare, they put up a great showing in Nowlan Park when they took on Kilkenny and last weekend they went toe-to-toe with Wexford. It was just great to see some supporters back at that game too.
I watched the Laois game last Sunday and they were very poor in the first half. But, Seamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett will be encouraged with what his team showed in the second period. But, how do you read that? Were Laois good or did Kilkenny take their foot off the pedal?
I just can’t look beyond Antrim here. They are playing at home and anyone that has watched their games will have seen how difficult its been for bigger teams than Laois going up to Corrigan Park. The Saffrons have secured Division 1 status in the National League already for next season, and I believe they’ll have four or five points to spare here.
I went against Clare last weekend and how wrong I was! They had a marvellous win up in Dublin, in a really tough venue to go to. There aren’t many teams that will go to Parnell Park and win there in the manner in which Clare did. It has to be said The Banner County were very impressive.
On the flip side, I was at the Kilkenny v Laois game and The Cats were good for the first quarter, but they conceded an awful lot of scores that Brian Cody will not be happy about after that.
When you consider the way Clare, under the stewardship of Brian Lohan, lost their first two games to Antrim and Wexford in really disappointing fashion. I believe Lohan will be delighted with how they’ve bounced back, beating Laois and Dublin in the process.
I know Clare’s meeting with Waterford in the Munster Championship is two weeks from now, but imagine the momentum they have heading into that fixture if they grab a victory over Kilkenny on Saturday? I believe they’ll really target a win in this game because of that. People are starting to talk about The Bannermen again and I just feel with home advantage, that this could be a tough fixture for Kilkenny. I reckon there is a lot of value in backing Clare and they get my vote.
I’m after tipping Dublin twice (against Kilkenny and Clare) and they are after leaving me down on both occasions. Admittedly, they were unlucky against Kilkenny and things were looking promising last weekend after they banged in two goals just before half-time.
It’s very hard to know where their opponents on Saturday, Wexford, are. This is year five of Davy Fitzgerald’s reign and he’s done an incredible job down there. But, I feel that this season could be his last hoorah with The Yellowbellies and it’s led to an over-reliance on the likes of Lee Chin, Rory O’Connor and Dee O’Keeffe this season.
These teams are out in Championship in a fortnight’s time. Dublin play Antrim and Wexford take on Laois, and both of their managers will be eager to win this considering their respective disappointing results last weekend. Wexford drew up in Belfast after being in a reasonably good position at half-time and they should have kicked on to win that. Mattie Kenny’s Dublin had a worrying defeat against Clare for their part.
I just have a funny feeling that the one weekend I don’t tip Dublin that they’ll win, so I’m sticking with The Dubs. Their price also represents a bit of value and that’s what attracting me to a victory for the visitors.
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