Leinster SHC round three: Galway v Wexford
Throw-in: 4pm, Sunday. Venue: Pearse Stadium. How to follow: The Irish Times GAA Sunday liveblog will begin at 2pm. On TV: Live on RTÉ 2.
Leinster is turning into something of a slow bicycle race with only Kilkenny, apparently fatally undermined by injuries, and Galway managing a 100 per cent return so far. It is early days but certain trends have already emerged. Galway's laboured win over a feisty Carlow side, taken in tandem with Kilkenny's first-half riot against the latter, suggests that the absence of Joe Canning is proving every bit as inhibiting as originally appeared likely.
Dublin have been held up to scrutiny under a few headings – free-taking and running out of steam in the final quarter were both highlighted in these pages – and although they last week gained their first point in two years from one of what might be called the permanent members of the Leinster round-robin, they still have it all to do to make the top three.
This round in Salthill is of unmistakable significance. Wexford were hampered by having to play their two away matches first up but having taken a point in Parnell Park, a match that Dublin had targeted all year as the opportunity to leapfrog their opponents, they should be in reasonable spirits heading west.
They came strongly from behind last week when applying an unusual full-court press and ended up faintly unlucky – 20-metre free, last puck of the match – not to win.
They started poorly but as a team playing a first match against practised opposition that was forgivable. Liam Ryan is a very good day full back even if the scale of his dominance on Liam Rushe was influenced by the latter's suspect fitness. Shaun Murphy was excellent in raiding from the back in the second half Lee Chin was terrific, not least from the dead ball.
The problem for Davy Fitzgerald’s team is the perennial one against Galway of size and speed. The champions’ forwards are physically imposing and have the wheels to trouble the opponents’ half backs.
Micheál Donoghue is likely to be able to welcome back All Star full back Daithí Burke and there is an urgency about the situation that demands a response.
Could be a lot closer than 5-2, though.
Verdict: Galway to win