All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-finals

Saturday

Antrim v Cork, Corrigan Park, 2pm

Kerry v Wexford, Austin Stack Park, 2pm

After the epic poetry of last Sunday in Thurles, this weekend brings us two preliminary quarter-finals.

Antrim and Kerry played a high-scoring Joe McDonagh final a week ago and their reward is a seven-day turnaround that most feel will end with the words: 'thanks for playing lads, we'll see you next year.’

Antrim welcome Cork who have been honed in one of the best Munster Championships in years and have had time to regroup.

Kerry play a Wexford team whose last game was a victory over Kilkenny.

Both Antrim and Kerry will wonder who needs friends when you have enemies like this on the fixture committee at Croke Park.

Cork have named all-time top scorer Patrick Horgan on the bench with Tim O’Mahony in from the start.

The Rebels’ form has improved drastically and memories of early Munster Championship days should have them on guard against any kind of complacency.

Antrim produced some of their best in the surrounds of Corrigan Park, and their haul of 25 goals is worthy of note. They will make it awkward but it will be the shock of the season if Cork don’t advance.

Kerry battled bravely in headquarters last Sunday and deserve credit for never throwing in the towel, even when going 12 points adrift.

Manager Stephen Molumphy will take the positives and has done well to introduce new blood into the squad. Both him and Pat Bennett have been involved with Wexford of late, so they won’t be short of intelligence on the Yellowbellies.

However the facts don’t lie and last weekend was Kerry’s third Joe McDonagh defeat in a row.

Wexford will be mindful of their Westmeath experience earlier in the season and while you’d love to be saying otherwise, if the Kingdom keep the margin to single digits, they’ll be doing well.

We better make the most of it though, because there are only three hurling weekends left after tomorrow and it’s still early June.

Before we leave afternoons of July and August empty, with all the kids flocking to school in early September with no All-Ireland finals to get their imagination racing.

Pound-shop populists may disagree but if you think that long summer gap, along with the disadvantage that the quick turn-around that Kerry and Antrim are landed with this weekend is positive, then good luck from the hurling nation with shooting yourself in the foot to improve your dancing.

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