By Micil Glennon
Offaly v Waterford, Tullamore, 7pm
In what is the stand-out tie of the preliminary round qualifiers, Offaly welcome Waterford to O’Connor Park.
While Offaly might have fancied one of the lower-ranked sides, the visitors’ calibre will ensure that there is no loss of focus, which may have crept in had Antrim or London or Westmeath come out of the pot.
Ollie Baker’s men performed admirably against Kilkenny in the quarter-final.
While the Cats were nowhere near their best, Offaly, from 1-15, went about their jobs in a tenacious manner and had they been a bit more efficient the result would have been even closer than the five points that separated them in the end.
Brian Carroll, Colin Egan and Joe Bergin all stood out for the Faithful and took some of the pressure off Shane Dooley, who, by his own standards, was off form.
Baker told the Tullamore Tribune that they need to improve on the last outing.
He said: “The performance we put in against Kilkenny is only any good now if we repeat it against Waterford. We will need that performance and more to reach the next stage.”
Coolderry’s Cathal Parlon will miss out with a hand injury but Dooley (hamstring) and Dan Currams (arm) are named to start.
Waterford, on the back of an eight-point defeat to Clare, will arrive in Tullamore as justifiable favourites.
They retained their league status comfortably enough with wins over The Banner and Tipperary as well as a draw with Cork.
Former county star John Mullane has said that this is the biggest game that the Déise have faced in years, saying that defeat would be a “disaster”.
Jamie Nagle has recovered from an ankle injury and is due to start at right half-back.
All things being equal, the Munster side should have too much for Offaly but the home team, traditionally famed for upsets, are due one.
Any performance close to the tempo they showed against the Cats will have them there or thereabouts.
Offaly: James Dempsey, Chris McDonald, David Kenny (c), Dermot Mooney, Rory Hanniffy, Ger Healion, Derek Morkan, Brian Carroll, Kevin Brady, Colin Egan, Derek Molloy, Ciaran Slevin, Shane Dooley, Dan Currams, Joe Bergin.
Waterford: Stephen O'Keeffe, Shane Fives, Liam Lawlor, Noel Connors, Jamie Nagle, Michael Walsh, Darragh Fives, Paudie Prendergast, Kevin Moran, Jake Dillon, Seamus Prendergast, Shane O'Sullivan, Jamie Barron, Maurice Shanahan, Brian O'Sullivan.
Highlights and analysis of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game from 22:00 on Sunday 23 June on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only). Expert and fan reaction on Take Your Point from 18:00 on Sunday 23 June on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).