Leinster and Munster hurling semi-finals: Throw-in times, TV channels and verdicts

Seán Moran looks ahead as the provincial championships are whittled down

TJ Reid was lucrative for Kilkenny in the league and they will need him to be again. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

TJ Reid was lucrative for Kilkenny in the league and they will need him to be again. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Saturday

Leinster SHC semi-finals

Dublin v Galway

Throw-in: 2pm. Venue: Croke Park. On TV: Live on Sky Sports Arena

Reasons to be upbeat for Dublin are the strong display against Antrim plus a 50-50 record against Galway in Leinster. Danny Sutcliffe had his best game for a long time and Eoghan O’Donnell was in top form. Galway, however, have looked in a different dimension so far this year. They have the established capacity for points from distance but when the goal’s on they have been impressively single-minded. Their strength in the air and pacey athleticism have again made them number one challengers to Limerick. In attack Brian Concannon has developed into a consistent performer and Conor Whelan exudes greater menace to complement his work-rate. If the league wasn’t flattering to deceive, Shane O’Neill’s team are on a mission and it’s Dublin’s misfortune to be on the same side of the draw and switched to Croke Park from Portlaoise.

Verdict: Galway

Kilkenny v Wexford

Throw-in: 4.30pm. Venue: Croke Park. On TV: Live on Sky Sports Arena

After the counties’ league match in UPMC Nowlan Park, the first reaction was to call for a stewards’ inquiry. If it actually was the death of Wexford’s season no-one was crying at the funeral. Thumping Laois shouldn’t have radically altered the calculation but Wexford had a cut about them - plus the championship matches between this pair during the Fitzgerald era have been tightly contested with Wexford having the edge over four matches - none decided by more than a score. Rory O’Connor is in form and although they’re a familiar cast they looked up for it last week. Kilkenny had a solid league even if their defence raised some concerns, including whether using Pádraig Walsh at centre back is robbing them of an excellent wing back. TJ Reid returned prodigious totals during the league and at least has Adrian Mullen back and improving after injury to share the load. Kilkenny don’t suffer from Wexford’s mood swings and are the better for it. The pendulum looks to be swinging their way.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Munster SHC semi-final

Cork v Limerick

Throw-in: 7pm. Venue: Semple Stadium. On TV: Live on Sky Sports Arena

In the league Limerick’s swarming of the Cork puck-out was something to behold and possession was regularly turned over. Limerick looked to have their buzz back, hounding defenders and shooting with abandon - three wides in the first two minutes, eight by the first water break and 31 attempts by half-time. All Star Dan Morrissey starts on the bench, as John Kiely goes for three inside defenders rather than an anchor full back, in order to counter the pace of the opposition attack and exposure to goals. Cork’s record against the champions is excellent and they are hardly any less fancied this weekend than two years ago in the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Can they create sufficient goal chances - they had five in the league but scored two? Can they limit Cian Lynch’s influence, which was fatal the last day? Can they find a way through the minefield of Limerick’s middle third? Too many questions.

Verdict: Limerick

Sunday

Munster SHC semi-final

Tipperary v Clare

Throw-in: 3.45pm. Venue: LIT Gaelic Grounds. On TV: Live on RTÉ2

Kudos to Clare for a well-executed win over Waterford. This will be different, however. Tipperary may have the air of a ‘one last job’ gang in a film but they are strong where they need to be. The defence is unlikely to allow itself be ragged in possession - in the manner Clare persecuted Waterford. Noel McGrath will ensure that a share of decent ball goes into the forwards and you’d expect the movement and interplay of Jake Morris, Séamus Callanan and John O’Dwyer to be smoother than when losing in Walsh Park three weeks ago. Clare need to be better than the festival of not being afraid to miss that they celebrated in Thurles where even Tony Kelly sent six wide. Brendan Maher tagged Kelly well when the counties last met but Clare are more buoyant now than two years ago. There is though only so much he can do and Tipp won’t be as disturbed by Aron Shanagher’s signature threat in the air. Goals will be important and Tipp look more likely to get them.

Verdict: Tipperary

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