Galway v Dublin
Dublin scored 3-31 last weekend but still there's a feeling that they won’t bring enough in attack against Galway.
I don’t think the venue of Croke Park will suit them against this Galway outfit. Galway have long stock between Joe Canning and his supporting cast and Shane O’Neill has tweaked them further this year after last year’s semi-final loss.
Dublin’s defence will get it’s biggest test in the Croke Park space, especially with Galway’s interchangeable range of top-quality forwards.
Galway have literally and figuratively emerged as the big boys of Leinster and even though Dublin’s form in recent years shows no sign of an inferiority complex when it comes to playing Galway, it would be huge shock if Dublin were to win here.
Wexford v Kilkenny
There will be 8,000 people in Croke Park for one of the biggest draws of the day, to witness a personal battle between two men. Cody versus Davy on the sideline is the must-see feature of the biggest weekend of hurling so far.
Is there any chance this is their last waltz? At times in the past spring, even after the phony war between the counties, Cody must have been tempted to feel that his old nemesis was in decline. But last weekend a passive Laois team gave Wexford the injection of confidence they needed.
Defeat for either man will be sharp reminder of their mortality.
Kilkenny, as usual, have been are under the radar and as secretive as North Korea since the league. Are they still the Kilkenny of old and is this still enough? Do they know their best team?
TJ Reid remains a talisman and there’s a lot that will rest on his broad shoulders.
It’s a very tough call, I’m really looking forward to this one but if Wexford can get their big guns, like O’Hanlon, Chin and McDonald all firing at the same time, they have enough to provide Davy with one more coup.
Cork v Limerick
How many ways are there to slay a dragon? Are Cork about experiment by taking an old style to a new problem?
Limerick are built for the bump and grind of modern hurling and didn’t look particularly bothered by Cork’s style in the National League game in the Gaelic Grounds.
Both sides will have different personal on the pitch tomorrow and surely Cork are likely to mix things up more than they did on that day.
Having Patrick Horgan on the pitch from the start will give Cork a different outlet but Cork’s problem in recent years hasn’t been a shortage of skill. Their midfield and half-back line will need a manic passion and presence that they haven’t shown if they are disrupt Limerick’s familiar rhythm.
Limerick do what they do and defy you to do anything about it. Cork will look intelligently for weak points and Limerick don’t look at their best when turned and protecting their goal.
All Cork people long for a victory tomorrow night but on evidence today, you can’t go against Limerick.
Clare v Tipperary
Is this momentum versus stagnation?
The league started with experts looking for a pulse or any sign of life in Clare hurling. Last weekend they brushed Waterford aside with a half-back line that made Waterford’s forwards look lightweight.
Clare have Tony Kelly in form and with Shane O’Donnell yet to return.
As for Tipp, robbed of the injured Bonner Maher, they’ve looked short of inspiration, new ideas and new faces this year.
Tipperary have the hurlers but they’ve looked leggy at times and the impression is that despite the league game against Galway, they have lost ground on the front two of Limerick and Galway.
The question here now is how much have Clare pulled back on Tipp?
Clare stopped the Waterford inside attackers winning primary possession last weekend and this was key to victory. However, Tipp will present a different challenge in this department.
Tipps’ attackers have gifted hands and gifted hands make light work in this game. It’s Tipp for me.