Sky Sports GAA analyst Jamesie O’Connor looks ahead to the weekend’s hurling action.
Clare vs Tipperary in Ennis is a massive game for both teams.
Tipp are in the driving seat in Munster – they’ve bagged 2-28 and 2-30 in their two games so far – producing a healthy scoring difference.
However, head-to-head is the first thing to determine rankings if two teams finish on the same points, so Liam Sheedy will appreciate the importance of a win on Sunday.
They would certainly prefer to have things tidied up and not have to worry about Limerick coming to Thurles on June 16.
From a Clare perspective, it was great to go to Waterford and get the win. But they’re now looking at three games in 14 days.
Clare’s record against Tipp up to 2018 was poor for a decade. That win last year was massive for them in terms of getting a monkey off their backs, overcoming the likes of Padraic Maher, Brendan Maher and that crop of players.
Clare are hard to beat in Ennis. They’ve a great record there. They spoke about turning it into a fortress, and won two from two last year.
So much has been made about the Tipp forward line, but Clare are also strong in that department.
If you were picking a combined forward line between the two teams, you’d find it very hard to leave off Shane O’Donnell, John Conlon and possibly even Peter Duggan. That’s not even mentioning Tony Kelly!
The question is, can the Clare defence contain that Tipp attack? If the home side don’t concede goals, they’re in with a real shout.
As a Clare man, I think it’s a 50-50 game and home advantage gives us a great chance.
Waterford vs Limerick
Waterford’s season is on the line on Sunday. They’ve lost twice already, they can’t afford to go down again. It’s do or die for them.
Limerick didn’t perform against Cork. The league couldn’t have gone any better. Their subs had all gotten game time, and it appeared like they were heading into the championship in a great place.
But championship hurling is funny. Cork had come in with their character being questioned, and boy did they deliver.
There is an element of backs-to-the-wall stuff for the Treaty. They have Clare coming to the Gaelic Grounds, and they’ve Tipp in Thurles. Sunday’s trip to Walsh Park has assumed must-win status for them.
At the same time, they’re All-Ireland champions. They’ve been defeated by a team that was obviously hungry, questioned, and they were only barely beaten in the All-Ireland semi-final last summer. So it’s not like they lost to a weaker county – it’s about perspective.
Their margin for error is gone, but I still expect Limerick to get the ship back on track on Sunday. I think the Cork loss was a setback, but they’re still one of the teams that you fancy to get out of Munster.
Carlow v Dublin
Carlow have made no bones about it – they’re targeting Dublin. And why wouldn’t they?
That’s traditionally been the case. Whether it’s Laois, Westmeath or Carlow, Dublin are a team they’ll view as beatable. You’re not playing Kilkenny. That history is not necessarily there.
There’s talk that qualification spots from the Leinster Championship may come down to scoring difference, and therefore it’s going to be target practice against Carlow.
If you’re a Carlow player, that has to have grated with you. It’s not going to be easy for the Dubs going down there. But at the same time, Mattie Kenny’s side have had the chance to rest up after two big weekends against Kilkenny and Wexford. They know the importance of getting a result, then their fate is in their own hands heading into the last game against Galway.
I just can’t see Dublin slipping up. They’ll have to be up for it, they’ll have to be prepared, and I think they will be.
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