Leading lights start to blow off cobwebs

I fancied one of the Division 1A games would be a draw this week and I was right, with Clare and Galway finishing all square in Ennis.

Unfortunately though that wasn't the game I picked! I went for a share of the spoils between Kilkenny and Waterford, I could hardly have been more wrong with the Cats securing a 4-22 to 0-14 win.

Kilkenny are getting the heavy artillery ready just as the biggest battles are about to commence. They meet Wexford in their quarter-final and even in Wexford Park there's going to be only one result there.

Before I go to the Tipperary/Dublin game, a word of praise for Clare, who managed to haul back Galway despite being down to 14 men for all the second half.

The one I was at though was in Thurles. A lot of questions were being asked about the Tipperary management team but they got it right yesterday, finally getting the performances from their big men that they were looking for. It started at the back with Conor O'Mahony at full-back and from there went right up the middle. Brendan Maher played at centre-back yesterday in the absence of namesake Padraic - he was outstanding. Shane McGrath got through an amount of work in midfield, Noel McGrath had a really impressive second half, three points from play, while Seamus Callanan at full-forward was again my man-of-the-match.

It wasn't just his free-taking - and some of his points in the second half were real pressure scores - it was his all-round play. Ominous as the display from Kilkenny in Nowlan Park was, this too was Tipperary sending out a message. I must mention two others also who didn't finish the game due to injury, Michael Cahill at wing-back, Bonner Maher at corner-forward. These are all the names you expect to see leading the charge for Tipperary and they did it yesterday. They still have a lot of work to do but at least they showed a bit true Tipperary steel yesterday, the true Tipperary style, no soft goals conceded.

Then again they were playing a team that isn't really set up to score a lot of goals, and that's a fault of this side, something they need to examine. Dublin didn't help themselves yesterday and this is a bad result for them.

They put themselves in the right position, they were playing well, looked to be in control, but somehow they left it slip and I'm sure Anthony Daly is disappointed today to find this team back in a relegation final again.

Alan McCrabbe again did well, and is a fine free-taker, but Dublin need to find that goal-scorer. They also need to become a bit more direct - so much lateral play yesterday, at times I thought I was in Thomond Park watching Munster

In Division 1B it went along expected lines though Limerick got a bit of a fright in Portlaoise. Cork put up a big score in beating Wexford but then they also conceded a big score - that was a problem against Clare last year in the All-Ireland finals and it looks like it's there again this year. They'll need to rectify that, even before Sunday when they meet a Tipperary team that will now surely be feeling a bit more confident.

I'm sure Limerick must be kicking themselves. Just over a week ago they were in control of this group, looked certainties for promotion - and I'd say they had targeted that.

Now they have again missed out. At this stage their supporters must be wondering if they'll ever again be in the top flight. They're meeting Galway next Sunday in the league quarter-final - that should be tasty.

Clare meet Laois, that's probably going only one way - the only chance Laois have is if it's played in Portlaoise but even then, that chance is slim!

Finally, a good win for Tipperary, helped admittedly by Dublin; an even more impressive win for Kilkenny for whom answering questions is second nature; Clare confirming their status. Progress for Wexford and Laois, but Galway, Cork and Limerick still have questions to answer.

A question I have for Croke Park though - why are all four games on the same day? Couldn't they have split it two on Saturday/two on Sunday, couldn't they even have made it two double-headers?

Then we'd all have been able to see all four games. Another good suggestion for the GAA, but it's not going to happen, is it?

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