You get the feeling Ballyboden are almost insulted by people claiming they are a physical team. They are more than that but this is one such an occasion where their raw strength could be crucial. On a tight pitch like Portlaoise, physical exchanges will be plentiful and the Dubliner’s midfield pairing and the likes of Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney are men who can take and give punishment. It will be the team who can absorb such hits that will succeed here. Like Ballyboden, Commercials have some class operators but they don’t have so much experience and do they have enough muscle to protect them?
Ballyboden St Endas.
Crossmaglen Rangers haven’t been setting the world alight in recent challenges against the likes of Kildare and Ratoath, although the performances won’t have worried management too much. They will too enjoy the venue more than Castlebar considering how familiar they are with winning there. If Tony Kernan is silenced by either Richie Feeney or Tom Cunniffe then the Ulster champions may find themselves in a sticky patch. Jamie Clarke will need Kernan for supply.
Responsibility is shared more equally among the Mitchels’ men and that may be the most telling factor in deciding this one.
Were this game in Parnell Park, our prediction might be different. The Donnycarney venue has been good to Dublin and coupled with Tipperary’s habit of slow starts it would lend to tipping Ger Cunningham’s side. But this evening they travel to Thurles without the suspended Liam Rushe and are missing from their spine in the shape of injured pair Peter Kelly and Ryan O’Dwyer. Tipperary’s attack doesn’t look as sharp without Seamus Callanan and we suspect John O’Dwyer may start despite being named on the bench.
Tipperary’s defence has a formidable look to it and can be the rock on which Dublin perish.
There is pressure on TJ Ryan but then he and the players should consider it’s high time they did something about wallowing in Division 1B for so long. The Na Piarsaigh men are missing as is James Ryan but then so too is Conor McDonald and Paul Morris for Wexford. A tight finish in store but Limerick more than want to win.
Galway traditionally start well in the league — they have won their last five openers — and they don’t need any reminding that they must keep picking up results or their ousting of Anthony Cunningham will be thrown back in their faces.The word from the Cork camp is that morale is good and they will hope to add some more steel to their game from last season and develop a game-plan that is clear in its definition. For different reasons, each group are a work-in-progress and that might be reflected on the scoreboard by the end.
The potency of the Kilkenny training session was all too evident against Wexford last summer in helping them to bridge a 12-week gap between their relegation play-off and Leinster semi-final. To a similar if lesser extent, they will hardly be affected by the lack of Walsh Cup games last month. Waterford’s start to this year has been slower than the previous campaigns and the Munster Senior League was a
period of experimentation for them.
On a heavy pitch, the Cats’ wiliness and size may be enough to brush off Waterford’s tyros.
As evidenced by their impressive January showings, Clare have been working like beavers these past couple of months. The absence of Pat Donnellan and Tony Kelly, particularly the latter who has linked up so well with Shane O’Donnell, hampers them although it may take Offaly longer to recover from Brian Carroll’s retirement.
The chances of a Kerry win look slim on the basis of their Munster Senior League campaign last month and the fact Ciaran Carey is still getting to know his players.
Cork have had a rocky start to the League following two losses in a row so the visit of Tyrone could not come at a better time. The Ulster side were hammered last weekend by Armagh and are favourites for relegation. This should be a morale boosting win for the hosts which will put them into a positive frame of mind going into a two-week break which will give Ephie Fitzgerald and James Masters plenty of time to work with their new charges.
This is the tie of the round. Galway have played one game, enjoying a comfortable win over a Monaghan side in transition. Mayo on the other hand have been the story of the League as they have managed to claim the two biggest scalps around as they defeated both Cork and Dublin.
Armagh had a gentle introduction to the top flight against a Tyrone side that are favourites for relegation but this weekend it will be a different challenge as they welcome the Kingdom to Pearse Ógs. It’s been a stuttering start for Kerry who have been on the receiving end of a hammering from Dublin but then defeated Cork at home. The worry for Kerry is that they don’t travel well and without star forward Louise Ní Muircheartaigh they may struggle for scores.