The bloodletting in Offaly has been postponed for the time being but the heavy defeat to Westmeath has undoubtedly exposed a lot of pain in the county. Eamonn Kelly will hope the players’ pain and, yes, embarrassment will be harnessed sufficiently enough to recover in Tullamore today. Carlow are in last chance saloon too but Offaly’s urge should be greater.
Westmeath will be buzzing making the trip to the south-west and having seen off Offaly won’t be perturbed in the slightest that Kerry have been playing a higher grade of opposition this spring. For the Kingdom, it’s all about breaking down this fine Westmeath back-line but they have the materials to do so. They are better than what they exhibited in Carlow last weekend and should show it here.
Down were five-point losers to London last weekend but the five places between them and Roscommon in the league should be evident here.
Kildare recovered strongly from losing to Antrim against Wicklow but they should be concerned about the danger London present having finished four points behind them in Division 2A.
Who gets the feeling this pair will be facing one another later in the season? Cork can often be slow starters so one wonders how much can be read into Mayo’s win on Leeside, their first in nine years, at the start of the campaign.
Cork have recovered well after poor early round performances to make their fourth final in a row and they will thrive on not being fancied as much as usual against a Mayo team who have looked so good this spring. There’s little doubting the goal threat posed by the Mayo attack but the collective experience of Cork could be the difference at the end.
It has to get better, doesn’t it? The fact is it was getting better. The second half of the second half was great; extra-time even better. Now people want more after a first half where plenty could have been forgiven for switching off. There won’t be 39 wides nor the foustering and flustering that tarnished the first 50 minutes or so of last Sunday’s clash. The game is likely to be more open but that may see more points rather than goal opportunities. Of all the comebacks in last Sunday’s clash, Clare’s were marginally better. Going down three points against the wind in the first half of extra-time, their recovery was excellent as was their coolness in chasing that equaliser at the end of regulation time.
Waterford can’t be too unhappy with how they performed, particularly in defence. Jamie Barron’s developing more into a midfielder of stature and the character shown by Shane Bennett and Patrick Curran was excellent. Not all cards will be shown ahead of June 5, of course. Be that as it may, Derek McGrath may be a little annoyed at how well Podge Collins did on Austin Gleeson. Shane Fives will also be missed after a strong show last weekend. Tomorrow will have little or no bearing on what happens next month but Clare know they have the capability of counteracting Waterford’s system. They can’t afford to let them put dead another 12 first-half shots because the Déise have shown they learn quick. But they have shown they can bear with Waterford’s high work-rate. On this occasion, they may just have enough quality available .