A look ahead to the weekend’s hurling games...
Division 1 quarter-final:
Dublin v Limerick, Parnell Park, 7pm (B Gavin, Offaly).
The disappointment of another failed attempt to exit Division 1B is still being felt in Limerick and a third consecutive quarter-final defeat, a second to Dublin, would only compound it. TJ Ryan has more options with the Na Piarsaigh crew back in tow but the disparity in quality between Division 1A and 1B should manifest itself here. Ger Cunningham’s finally beginning to put his stamp on this Dublin outfit and their record in Parnell Park is also excellent.
Division 1B relegation play-off:
Kerry v Laois, Austin Stack Park, 5pm (S Cleere, Kilkenny).
Laois’ fortunes have improved since their opening day loss to Kerry but then the Kingdom have hardly gone back since that O’Moore Park win. The cameras of TG4 spooked Kerry when they entertained Limerick in Tralee last month and there is more of an onus of them to see off Laois again but Ciarán Carey has imbued them with a battling quality that should see them home.
Division 2B relegation play-off:
Wicklow v Donegal, Páirc Esler 2.30pm (J Clarke, Cavan).
Only score difference consigned Wicklow to this play-off in contrast to Donegal who have struggled plenty in this division.
Division 1 quarter-finals:
Wexford v Waterford, Innovate Wexford Park 3.30pm (J Ryan, Tipperary).
What a difference a year makes. In Division 1B last year, Waterford travelled to Wexford town as 7/4 underdogs. Tomorrow, they arrive as 10/11 favourites. The pair’s qualifier two seasons ago seems a distant memory now but Wexford will fancy keeping Waterford honest at least. Their work-rate will not only have to match but exceed Waterford’s, though, which will be difficult.
Kilkenny v Offaly, Nowlan Park 3.45pm (A Kelly, Galway).
Offaly haven’t been afraid to throw their weight around in Division 1B but will they be as inclined to do the same here when Kilkenny’s physical prowess is unrivalled?
Offaly need something to build on going into their May 1 Leinster opener away to Westmeath, which clashes with the Division 1 final. Guess nobody expects them to reach it. It’s the performance that matters for them, not the result.
Clare v Tipperary, Cusack Park 3.45pm (D Kirwan, Cork) Live TG4.
Tipperary have not been flying it in Division 1A but then their couple of defeats were marginal ones. If this goes down to the wire, it will be a real gut-check for a team that hasn’t shown it can win tight tussles for quite some time. Clare, though, are lacking several players, the absence of David McInerney and Shane O’Donnell from their spine likely to be felt by the hosts.
Division 1A relegation play-off:
Galway v Cork, Pearse Stadium, 3.45pm (J McGrath, Westmeath).
Seven weeks away from their Munster quarter-final against Tipperary, Cork will have plenty of time to get this league run out of their hair but there is bound to be some residual effect from a campaign that saw them finish one spot but four points shy of tomorrow’s hosts.
Galway have problems of their own but theirs would appear to be a little more cosmetic than Cork’s.
How the home crowd react if Galway go behind will be interesting to note after the autumn’s heave against Anthony Cunningham.
What’s certain is it won’t be anything like the pair’s bloodless opener in Salthill in February. A hesitant nod to Galway.
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