With the National Hurling League facing into a bumper Sunday of quarter-finals and a Division 1A relegation play-off, Pundit Arena columnist Eoin Larkin looks ahead to the action.
Cork moving in the right direction, but need to push on
Of all the teams left in contention for the League title, I think Cork need it the most. The Rebels could do with the run of games, and they seem to be building confidence. The longer they stay in the league, the better for them.
Today’s clash with Limerick is an important one for Cork.
Down through the years, this is where they have let people down; when everyone is building them up and they’re on the crest of a wave, they put in a disappointing performance and get beaten.
To really nail down their good form, keep the Cork public in good spirits and build momentum ahead of the Championship, they need to win today. I think they will.
Limerick failed yet again in a promotion bid. They’re underachieving.
The Treaty just seem to fall apart on the big day too often. They don’t seem to have the leaders to drag them through a tough, tight games.
When things are going well, they’re very good, but when they’re not, they just seem to accept it.
They need to have a really good hard look at themselves, look where they’re going, and where they want to go.
There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t head down to Cork and win today; that’s the level they should be aspiring to, but I just don’t see it happening.
When we played them in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final, it was probably in the back of our minds that if we were still in the game with 10/15 minutes to go, we were probably going to win.
It didn’t go well for us that day. Everything Limerick hit went over the bar and they still didn’t win the game.
That’s where Limerick falter. They seem to be able to put themselves in good positions, put themselves within a good shot of winning the game, but just aren’t able to get over the final hurdle.
You have to be able to kill games off, and if you don’t, teams will catch you and then you get a reputation that you can’t close games out.
That can give the opponents a serious edge. At present, every team sees that with Limerick.
That needs to be rectified if the Treaty are to compete for honours again.
Déise to enjoy day out in Salthill
The Tribesmen are coming in under the radar. Nobody is talking about them. Wexford got promoted, and Galway will be in Division 1B next year.
I know myself, Pearse Stadium is a tough place to go. It’s a cold, windy ground.
Micheál Donoghue has done a good job up there. He cleared out what he wanted to clear out, and brought through a few young lads.
Waterford are a young fast team, with real emphasis on physicality and fitness. But this is a good test for Galway after being stuck down in Division 1B, playing a real top team will stand to them getting ready for that Leinster Championship opener against Dublin.
I fancy Waterford to go up and sneak it. They are in a better place at the moment.
The Cats to sneak past old rivals
I don’t think it will be as straight forward as everyone thinks. Playing in Nowlan Park, where Wexford haven’t won against Kilkenny in 60 years, is an advantage, but Kilkenny are that bit further down the line than Wexford.
Davy is putting them through a building process, and they’re undoubtedly moving in the right direction. They have had a good league, securing promotion. This League has been a huge success for them, regardless of whether or not they win today.
I think they’ll be coming up with huge confidence, a nothing-to-lose attitude, and we all know what Davy brings as well. He won’t be going up there just to make up the numbers, he won’t be sending his players out to do that.
But I just think Kilkenny have a bit more experience at this part of the League, and they should shade it.
This is going to be the most one-sided game of the weekend, unquestionably. Offaly are in dire straights at the moment.
I know they came down to us last year and we beat them easily enough as well. It’s going to be very difficult for Offaly to even keep down the score.
I think we should all say a few prayers for Offaly. I can’t see anything other than a comprehensive Tipperary win.
Dublin look to be going down
I think Clare should win handy enough. I know you couldn’t be putting your house on Clare at the moment, as they’ve been inconsistent throughout this League.
I was in Parnell Park last week, and wasn’t impressed with Dublin. They did all the hurling in the first half and Kilkenny still went in at the break a point up.
They weren’t able to make their dominance count and push the advantage home.
Kilkenny were always in the driving seat after that. They were always able to get a point or two when they needed it.
I think it’s worrying times for Dublin at the moment.
Eoin Larkin, Pundit Arena