The hurling championship is still crying out for a good game. With only five remaining games in this summer’s championship, we here at Pundit Arena HQ give you five reasons to look forward to this weekend’s action.
1.Managers Under Pressure
Out of the four manager that will be present on the sideline this Sunday, three of them are under pressure. Derek McGrath will look to lead his Waterford side from the depths of despair after the Déise’s Munster final horror show, while Micheál Donoghue and Galway have come under a wave of criticism after their Leinster final loss to Galway.
Clare and Davy Fitzgerald, who we hope to see on the sideline, are looking to make inroads after a couple of disappointing campaigns, and a loss to Galway will be of huge disappointment to the Banner.
2.Waterford’s Bounce-Back Ability
Waterford’s loss to Tipperary was a hammer blow for Derek McGrath’s young side. The now renowned sweeper system that Waterford implement was shattered by a razor-sharp Tipperary side who out-worked and out-foxed the Déise. This Sunday presents Waterford with their chance to get back on the horse and set up a semi-final showdown with Kilkenny for the second year on the trot.
Derek McGrath will more than likely stick to his guns and leave Tadhg de Búrca to sweep as per usual. A more direct running game and a much improved work-rate should see Waterford over the line. However, Wexford will challenge their bounce-back ability.
3. Galway’s Leaders Must Prove Themselves
Some of the criticism Galway received after their Leinster final defeat was simply unwarranted and unnecessary. Ger Loughnane’s war of words with Ollie Canning will only fuel the fire in Galway’s bellies for this Sunday’s clash with neighbours Clare.
That said, Galway have plenty to prove. The winter saga which saw Anthony Cunningham’s reign come to an abrupt end has but the pressure on the players to perform. The likes of Joe Canning and David Burke must be dominant leaders on the pitch while the rest of the Galway forwards must possess more of a goal threat.
The quality and potential is there but the Tribesmen have plenty to prove.
4. Liam Dunne’s Wexford March
For hurling’s sake, it is fantastic to see Wexford back where they belong. Back in Thurles for a quarter-final tie is where the yellow bellies belong. However, the last time they were at this stage, it turned in to an embarrassment.
It is essential for Liam Dunne’s side to avoid a repeat of the 2014 quarter-final showing. Having beaten reigning All-Ireland champions Clare, Wexford suffered a heavy defeat to Limerick on a scoreline 4-26 to 1-11, which significantly hampered their progress.
It is critical that Wexford give a good account of themselves this weekend.
5.We Are Due Good Games, Surely?
This season’s championship has been a serious let down and with not many games left to play, time is running out for the championship to come to life. This weekend has the potential to ignite this year’s championship.
With a potential Wexford rising on the cards and Waterford needing to get back on the road, the first game is sure to be a keenly contested affair. The second game could very well end up being a war of attrition as a Galway side with plenty to prove do battle with the Banner.
We are surely due good games, surely.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena