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This game kicks off an absolute blockbuster day of hurling on Saturday and it was originally scheduled to be played in Portlaoise. However, it’s since been changed to Croke Park to let in 8,000 fans as a Covid test event. Interestingly, despite the fact that Dublin won’t have to travel now, I believe the change of venue suits Galway better. If the game had remained in Portlaoise, I’d be giving Dublin more of a chance than I am now.
Dublin knocked Galway out of the Hurling Championship in 2019 after beating them in the tight dimensions of Parnell Park, but the wide-open spaces of Croke Park is usually a happy hunting ground for The Tribesmen. It certainly makes the task harder for Dublin to cause an upset on Saturday. Dublin’s u20s beat Galway’s u20s in the delayed 2020 Leinster final last week, and that should also serve to sharpen the focus for Shane O’Neill’s side for this match-up.
The Dubs were very impressive last weekend as they saw off Antrim in the Leinster quarter-final and scored 3-31 in the process. But, the hurling public are wondering if Galway are the real deal when it comes to challenging Limerick for the All-Ireland?
So, if they are to justify that kind of talk, The Tribesmen have to go and win this match by a decent margin. The handicap spread is six points and, while Dublin might give them a scare early in the game, Galway have too many aces in the pack for Mattie Kenny’s men to handle. I fancy Galway to win this one by seven or more points.
Out of all of the four great Championship games we have this weekend, you would be thinking if an upset going to happen, this is the game where it will come up. Wexford are coming off a fine win over Laois last weekend and they clocked up a huge score of 5-31 in the process.
The Yellowbellies look to be coming into this contest just exactly how they’d like it. Their energy levels look back to where they were in 2019, all their top players are playing well and they can also call on a few men (Cathal Dunbar and David Dunne) returning from injury now. Wexford will also like that this game has been switched to a much bigger pitch in Croke Park.
If this was five years ago, you would be saying Croke Park is like Kilkenny’s second home. But, I’ve seen evidence last year and in the National League this season, that when you ran directly at this Cats defence they can be in an awful lot of bother. Waterford did it to them in the Championship last term and Clare exposed them again a few weeks ago to score four goals.
TJ Reid is 34 years old, so the rest of Kilkenny’s forwards really need to step up to the mark to help him out now. If Wexford can curtail Reid’s influence on the game, then Davy Fitzgerald’s outfit have a super chance of winning this Leinster semi-final. I reckon this game is 50/50 and I’m going with the value play of Wexford to win it.
I’m travelling to Semple Stadium on Saturday evening to cover this game as a pundit and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s very hard to know what Cork are going to bring to the table this weekend, but we know exactly what we are going to get from Limerick.
There were some crazy question marks floating about the All-Ireland champions a few weeks ago, because they had two defeats in the League while they were trying out a few new players. But, Limerick are favourites to win the Munster Championship and All-Ireland Championship for a reason, and this game is one hell of a test for Cork.
People seem to have this mentality that The Rebels can just turn up and beat anyone on their day. I don’t know if that’s the case with this current crop of players. Maybe they can in the future, but I don’t see it happening on Saturday night.
Looking at the League meeting between the sides a few weeks ago, John Kiely’s men were comprehensive winners. Cork struggled to win their own puck outs that day and that’s going to be a crucial element of the match this weekend. Keiran Kingston charges will need to at the very least break even on winning their own restarts to have any chance of winning.
That is easier said than done against Limerick though, as they pressed Cork very high last time out. The question is now, if Cork have found an answer to that ahead of this clash. I really can’t look beyond Limerick winning this though, and if they raise more than one green flag on Saturday, the task becomes almost impossible for The Rebels. Back Limerick to beat the (-3) handicap available.
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