Weekend’s hurling previews and team news

Galway braced for difficult assignment in Wexford

SATURDAY

Leinster SHC round four

Wexford v Galway, Innovate Wexford Park, 5.0 [Live, Sky Sports Arena]

The temperature rises with the first match that could decide an issue this championship. If Galway win, they will be in the Leinster final next month. It's brilliantly balanced with Wexford at home and signs – despite Offaly's ragged challenge – that David Fitzgerald's team are gaining altitude. In last year's provincial final, Wexford struggled with their opponents' ability to compete physically and superior scoring capability. In the league quarter-final in March, Wexford's centrefield of Rory O'Connor and Kevin Foley had a big influence but David Burke and Johnny Coen looked more practised in Salthill beating Kilkenny last week and the team is stepping up all the time.

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)
 
Last meeting: 2017 Leinster final, at Croke Park, Galway 0-29, Wexford 1-17.
Just the ticket: Covered stand (no concession) €20, uncovered stand €20. Terrace €15. Juveniles €5.
Odds: Wexford 5/2, Galway 2/5 and 10/1 draw.
Verdict: Galway

Munster SHC round three

Cork v Limerick, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 7.0 [Live, Sky Sports Arena]

One interesting angle on this will be how Cork cope with a third weekend in a row, never mind a six-day turnaround after their charged affair with Tipperary in Thurles. Limerick have had a break since beating Tipp and, in keeping with their businesslike approach to the year, have opted to drop Séamus Hickey after his difficulties two weeks ago and bring in Mike Casey. They were strong in areas where they can counter Cork. Their puck-outs worked really well and their half back line was excellent and will expect to reduce the productivity of the opposition's half forwards. Pace will also be required, as Cork's movement and speed at times dismantled Tipp. But John Kiely will be more interested in the way his opponents wilted in the second half.

Referee: James Owens (Wexford).

Last meeting: 2014 Munster final, at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork 2-24, Limerick 0-24.
Just the ticket: Pre-pay – Stand €20, Terrace €15 Match day – €25, Terrace €20. Juveniles €5.
Odds: Cork 8/11, Limerick 7/5 and 9/1 draw.
Verdict: Limerick   

SUNDAY 

Leinster SHC round three

Dublin v Offaly, Parnell Park, 3.0

A massive match for the counties given the prescribed fate of the losers. Everything has gone Dublin’s way in the making of this fixture given their home venue and their rest last weekend. More substantively they also hurled more competitively against Kilkenny and Wexford, teams that beat Offaly comfortably.

Any concern about the home team's morale, having been beaten twice in injury-time, is surely allayed by their opponents' fourth straight week in action and the suspension picked up by Oisín Kelly, scorer of 1-1 against Wexford before his red card. Dublin's team news is more positive with the return after injury of Conal Keaney, whose exceptional display against Kilkenny did much to inspire the near-shock result two weeks ago.

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

Last meeting: 2011 Leinster quarter-final, at Croke Park, Dublin 2-21, Offaly 1-20.
Just the ticket: Stand €20. Terrace €15. Juveniles €5.
Odds: Dublin 1/8, Offaly 6/1 and 14/1 draw.
Verdict: Dublin

Waterford v Tipperary, Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 4.0

It’s hard to imagine farther extremes of fortune than those experienced by these teams last week. Tipp finally got their motor running to catch Cork in the second half but really had sufficient momentum to go on and win.

Later in the afternoon, Derek McGrath had to watch in despair as Waterford tried to emulate Monty Python's Black Knight, persevering as they lost a succession of key players to injuries and a red card.

It’s a terrible pity, as their season is now fatally undermined and that’s before the grim comedy of having to treat the Ennis Road as a ‘home’ venue. Tipp will build on last week’s momentum and use it to get further game time into Séamus Callanan’s legs whereas Waterford will give it a lash even in their straitened circumstances.

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).

Last meeting: 2016 Munster final, at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, Tipperary 5-19, Waterford 0-13. 
Just the ticket: Pre-pay – Stand €20, Terrace €15. Match day – €25, Terrace €20. Juveniles €5. 
Odds: Waterford 5/1, Tipperary 1/6 and 14/1 draw. 
Verdict: Tipperary

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times