Sunday’s Allianz Hurling league previews

Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan: will be back for the relegation play-off against Clare at Nowlan Park. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan: will be back for the relegation play-off against Clare at Nowlan Park. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

DIVISION 1 QUARTER-FINALS

Offaly v Tipperary, O’Connor Park, 3.0 – Offaly’s season has marked an improvement on last year and their prospects might have been enhanced had manager Brian Whelahan succeeded in getting the fixture switched to Birr.

When they played in last year’s championship, Offaly kept pace until the final quarter and then got blown away.

Tipperary have had a buoyant campaign following their opening loss to Dublin. Their forward movement and scoring is functioning at a high level for this time of the year.

Offaly will be happy to keep it as keen as it was last July and try to ensure that the roof doesn’t fall in as completely as happened then. Verdict: Tipperary

Cork v Wexford, Páirc Uí Rinn, 4.0 – Both teams were on the end of poor results last week but it was questionable as to how deeply the setbacks cut into Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Liam Dunne.

Cork had nothing to play for and whereas Wexford’s performance clearly irritated Dunne. They struggled to create goal openings for Conor McDonald and Liam McGovern but Cork won’t be setting out a chain-link ultra-defence.

The home side have been forced into a few changes which weaken the team with Stephen McDonnell, Mark Ellis and Alan Cadogan out but at their best they have been high-scoring this season and if they get the sort of territory and opportunity that Waterford managed in Wexford Park, they can be relied on to charge a higher price for it. Verdict: Cork

Waterford v Galway, Walsh Park, 4.0 – This is probably the best prospect for a Division 1B team to reach the semi-finals, as there’s great difficulty remembering when Galway last won in Walsh Park and Waterford were impressive winners of their division.

Galway have strengthened after last week’s fitful display against Dublin and much will depend on how driven they are in this. They have the physique to trouble the home side whose manager Derek McGrath pointed out last week that, aside from veterans Kevin Moran and Michael Walsh and Maurice Shanahan, his side lacked heft.

They are playing well, however, with plenty of defensive cover. The attack did well last week and Waterford have the momentum. Verdict: Waterford

DIVISION 1A RELEGATION PLAY-OFF

Kilkenny v Clare, Nowlan Park, 2.0 – Although last week’s defeat didn’t make any material difference in the end, it still wasn’t great for Clare’s morale to get beaten by a shadow Kilkenny side.

It was always going to be the case that this play-off would be different as the All-Ireland club champions Ballyhale would be returning their troops for county service. Then Kilkenny won the toss for for home advantage.

Clare haven’t been far off the mark in their matches this season despite losing all but one of them and it’s likely they’ll throw the kitchen sink at this. Nonetheless it’s hard – especially after the turmoil of this past week – to see Kilkenny not rising to this. Verdict: Kilkenny

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