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I went with Westmeath on the handicap last weekend against Tipperary. The handicap was 19 points then, and I just thought when they were at home in Mullingar that Westmeath might be able to defend that. But, even after a slow start, Tipperary racked up 4-27 to win by 23 points on the day.
It really doesn’t get any easier for Shane O’Brien and his charges on Sunday, they are coming up against the best team in the country. I reckon Westmeath will be glad to see the back of this National League campaign. Thankfully, things will get a little bit easier for The Lake County in the Joe McDonagh Cup, as the calibre of the teams they’ve been playing over the last number of weeks is through the roof.
I don’t know if playing in the top tier of the League will be a benefit to Westmeath or not going forward into the Joe McDonagh Cup, but I can only see this Sunday’s game being one-way traffic. If John Kiely goes in any way strong with his Limerick line-up – and don’t forget they’ve got the best panel in Ireland – they can better the handicap of 21 points placed on them.
The Treaty County just don’t cough up scores to their opposition and they create the opportunities at the other end to punish teams. This 21-point handicap is well manageable for Limerick, and they should cover it.
I believe the prices are wrong heading into this contest at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday. The betting shouldn’t be as close as it is, and Galway should be a much heavier favourite. If Galway come down with a strong side and Cork go with a similar selection to last week, then this is only going one way.
I’d expect a couple more bodies to come in for Cork, but they also have a few injuries to mind as they play Limerick on July 03 in the Munster Championship. The Rebels could still be down a couple of big players for this though, and I don’t believe their manager Kieran Kingston will want to risk them with that Limerick game on the horizon.
If Galway’s Shane O’Neill picks somewhere along the lines of the team he named last Sunday, I would expect Galway to win away from home here. I was very in impressed by the performance of The Tribesman last weekend. They are the nearest team to Limerick in the country and I’ve already got a few bob on them to win this year’s Leinster Championship.
Galway are the real deal and I believe they’ll have a big say in the All-Ireland Championship yet. O’Neill will be keen to keep up the momentum Galway have built in this game, and they can top the group by beating Cork here. If they do that, they could meet Kilkenny with the National League title on the line as well – that’s if both sides were to make it to the Leinster final. I fancy The Tribesmen to score victory here first though, and I reckon there is a bit of value about their price too.
I thought Waterford were brilliant in the first half against Galway last time out, scoring a total of 3-22 in the end. That score would win you most games, but they conceded 4-28 and that would worry you. This is a clash of Liam Cahill v Liam Sheedy on the sideline, and it will be fascinating to see how both managers approach this match.
Sheedy does have a bit of a luxury of an extra week to prepare for Championship after this game. It is also possible that these counties could meet in the Munster Championship too as the winner of Clare v Waterford takes on Tipperary in the semi-final. We saw a little shadowboxing between Cork and Limerick last weekend in the National League, and it’s possible we could see some of that here too – especially on Waterford’s side.
Cahill may experiment with his Waterford line-up because of that, and you might see some star names only get 35 or 40 minutes on Sunday. Whereas I’m sure Sheedy will want to keep Tipperary’s momentum going as they could top the Division 1A section of the League with a victory and I see them getting the two points in this one.
The handicap is three points and I fancy Liam Sheedy to go for this contest more than Liam Cahill for the reasons I’ve stated above. I still believe the game will be a tight enough affair though, and Waterford cover the three point spread they have.
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