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When these teams met in Division 1 of the National League, I was there working as a pundit. Dublin won by eight points, but Antrim were a very tired team that day. They’d just come off beating Clare and putting up a huge display against Kilkenny at Nowlan Park, so they were not quite themselves when asked to go again for the third week in a row.
This fixture takes place in Pairc Tailteann, Navan this weekend, so Dublin won’t enjoy the home advantage they did in the League fixture and this game will be a close affair, despite Dublin being favourites in the betting.
I believe Dublin should triumph in the end, the experience that they’ve had over the last few years at the top level of hurling – even if they haven’t really picked up the results they would have liked to – will stand to them against an Antrim side just up from Joe McDonagh level. The Dubs have some marvellous players at their disposal and they also have Eoghan O’Donnell – who is quite possibly the best full back in the country at the moment.
The handicap for this match is five points though, and I don’t believe Dublin will cover it. Antrim have been tremendous all season under their manager Darren Gleeson and I reckon they can get within three or four points of Dublin in this Leinster Championship quarter-final.
The 11-point handicap on offer heading into Saturday evening’s Leinster quarter-final is a fair reflection of where both these teams are at currently. Laois have been thoroughly disappointing throughout the course of the National League, but you have to factor in that they’ve been missing some of their key players.
When Wexford met Laois at the start of May in the League, The Yellowbellies ran out comprehensive winners. So, if Wexford are to kick on and have a say in the outcome of the Leinster Championship, they need to hit the ground running at Nowlan Park. Their manager Davy Fitzgerald will demand that of them, and I believe they will cover that 11-point spread.
Laois have been conceding too many scores all season, while they haven’t been putting them up on the other side of the pitch to balance out what they’ve been letting in. I fully expect Wexford to win, and they will probably raise a few green flags along the way in doing so.
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