With the GAA season in full swing, we look at five talking points ahead of the weekend’s action.
Can Laois spring a surprise?
The whole country is talking about a rematch between Wexford and Kilkenny in the semi-final. For that to happen, the Yellowbellies must overcome Laois in tomorrow’s quarter-final.
However, despite being underdogs, there are a few reasons for the O’Moore County to believe.
Firstly, they ran Davy Fitzgerald’s side close in the League, losing an entertaining contest 2-24 to 2-20. That tie was in Wexford Park, while now they enjoy home advantage in Portlaoise.
Secondly, they have the benefit of three championship matches under their belt, all of which they won. Wexford have not had a competitive tie since their League semi-final defeat to Tipperary on April 16.
Laois have been threatening an upset for a few years now.
This is a banana skin for Wexford. If they are at the standard we believe them to be at, they ought to get the job done.
Can Galway back it up?
Galway have not won the All-Ireland title since 1988. Is this finally the season when the Tribesmen can bridge a 29-year gap?
After their League triumph and Tipperary’s loss last week, Mícheál Donoghue’s side are now favourites to lift Liam McCarthy.
They open their campaign against an inexperienced Dublin side in Tullamore. Few are expecting Ger Cunningham’s forces to put up much of a fight, but the longer they stay in the game, the more their belief will grow.
Joe Canning and Co. will be eager to put this one to bed early.
Just how far have Derry fallen?
It has been lamented this week how a Derry vs Tyrone fixture has lost its edge, mainly due to the Oak Leafers’ decline.
Few are expecting much of a challenge for Tyrone, following Derry’s relegation from Division 2 of the National Football League.
Without a huge amount to draw upon for confidence, Derry will have to find a performance from somewhere. In truth, a resectable loss to set them up for a qualifier victory wouldn’t be the worst result imaginable.
Where are Tyrone at?
The reigning Ulster champions are being talked up as All-Ireland contenders. Following the first four rounds of the League where they won three and drew with Dublin, their credentials were backed up.
However, losses to Donegal, Mayo and Kerry followed, and it cast question marks ahead of the summer.
Nobody will remember what Mickey Harte’s side did in the League come the end of the year. A win over Derry is a must. The much-anticipated showdown with Donegal will then follow.
Before we can talk about their All-Ireland credentials, they must prove themselves in the coming weeks.
Offaly will need more than tradition alone
Much was made about an Offaly Express article during the week, which suggested that the Faithful have too much tradition to lose to Westmeath.
However, The Lake County won this fixture last year by double scores, and have three Championship wins under their belt.
Will the Faithful get caught flat-footed like they did two years ago against Laois?
Make sure to check out the latest episode of The 16th Man podcast, where we look ahead to all the weekend’s GAA action, and hear from Dublin hurler Shane Barrett ahead of the Galway tie.