Weekend’s provincial hurling championship matches:
Saturday 6th May
Munster SHC round 3
Cork v Tipperary, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 7pm (GAAGO)
When these two teams met in Round 4 of the 2022 Munster SHC, Cork claimed a bloodless 12-point victory. It’s highly unlikely this game will be so one-sided.
Tipperary are a renewed force under Liam Cahill and their first-round win over Clare looks even more impressive in light of the Banner County’s subsequent victory over All-Ireland champions Limerick.
Cork, too, have started the championship in very impressive form, beating Waterford by nine points in their first-round match. The Rebels hurled that day with the sort of physical aggression that hasn’t always been their calling card in recent years.
The big news from a Tipperary point of view is that Seamus Callanan has recovered from the knee ligament injury he sustained in the League and is named on the bench. Sean Ryan and Conor Stakelum come into a rejigged Tipp attack with Patrick Maher and John McGrath dropping to the bench.
Cork have named the same team that defeated Waterford last time out.
TIPPERARY: Barry Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Michael Breen, Johnny Ryan; Ronan Maher, Bryan O Mara, Seamus Kennedy; Alan Tynan, Noel McGrath; Dan McCormack, Gearoid O Connor, Conor Stakelum; Jason Forde, Jake Morris, Sean Ryan. Subs: Rhys Shelly, Conor Bowe, Seamus Callanan, John Campion, Pauric Campion, Enda Heffernan, Mark Kehoe, Patrick Maher, Conor McCarthy, John McGrath, Kian O’Kelly.
CORK: Patrick Collins, Niall O’ Leary, Damien Cahalane, Ger Mellerick; Tommy O’Connell, Ciaran Joyce, Robert Downey; Brian Roche, Luke Meade; Declan Dalton, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Shane Barrett; Conor Lehane, Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy. Subs: Ger Collins, Cormac O’ Brien, Brian O’ Sullivan, Eoin Downey, Tim O’Mahony, Ethan Twomey, Conor Cahalane, Brian Hayes, Robbie O’Flynn, Shane Kingston, Padraig Power
Leinster SHC round 3
Dublin v Wexford, Croke Park, 5pm (GAAGO)
This is a vital match for both teams. Win, and you’re really in the picture for qualification for the All-Ireland series, lose and you face an up-hill struggle.
Neither team has really caught fire so far in the campaign. Dublin were somewhat fortunate to come away from Corrigan Park with a draw against Antrim and laboured for much of their win over Westmeath.
Whereas Wexford were well-beaten by Galway and had to endure a nervy final few minutes before finally getting the better of Antrim last weekend.
The big positive for the Slaneysiders is the return to fitness of Lee Chin. He scored three points from play against Antrim and brough the best from fellow forwards like Rory O’Connor, Cathal Dunbar, Jack O’Connor, and Oisin Foley.
Wexford have a lot of firepower, but they have a lot of defensive holes they’re struggling to plug.
Dublin, in contrast, have a more solid shape defensively but not as keen a cutting edge as Wexford. That could change though if Donal Burke hits form after two relatively quiet matches by his very high standards.
There won’t be much in this one.
DUBLIN: Seán Brennan; Paddy Doyle, Eoghan O’Donnell, Paddy Smyth; Conor Donohoe, Conor Burke, Daire Gray; Mark Grogan, Chris O’Leary; Danny Sutcliffe, Donal Burke, Cian Boland; Ronan Hayes, Cian O’Sullivan, Alex Considine. Subs: Eddie Gibbons, John Bellew, James Madden, Ronan Smith, Darragh Power, Cillian Costello, Paul Crummey, Fergal Whitely, Dara Purcell, Joe Flanagan, Sean Currie.
WEXFORD: James Lawlor; Shane Reck, Liam Ryan, Conor Devitt; Matthew O’Hanlon, Damien Reck, Simon Donohoe; Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Conor Hearne; Oisin Foley, Jack O’Connor, Liam Óg McGovern; Rory O’Connor, Lee Chin, Cathal Dunbar; Cian Byrne, Ross Banville, Ian Carty. Subs: Mikie Dwyer, Conor Foley, Kevin Foley, Richie Lawlor, Conor McDonald, Charlie McGuckin, Niall Murphy, Joe O’Connor.
Westmeath v Galway, TEG Cusack Park, 6pm
An injury-hit Westmeath have had a tough time so far in the Leinster Championship.
They fell to a heavy 22-point defeat to Kilkenny in Round 1, and though they improved in Round 2 against Dublin they were still beaten in the end by 12 points.
Both of those matches were on the road though and they have a well deserved reputation for being a tough nut to crack in TEG Cusack Park.
Galway have started their campaign impressively, with a commanding win over Wexford and a come from behind draw against Kilkenny last weekend.
They’ve made a few changes to the team that claimed that point, with Darren Morrissey and Fintan Burke coming into defence, Joseph Cooney moving to midfield to partner Cianan Fahy, and Liam Collins coming into the attack.
Westmeath will make it a battle, but Galway’s greater power around the pitch and cutting edge in attack should give them a clear advantage.
WESTMEATH: Noel Conaty; Darragh Egerton, Conor Shaw, Johnny Bermingham; Tommy Doyle, Robbie Greville, Charlie McCormack; Gary Greville, Cormac Boyle; Kevin Regan, Niall O’Brien, Joseph Boyle; David Williams, Davy Glennon, Eoin Keyes. Subs: Conor Bracken, Darragh Clinton, Derek McNicholas, Shane McGovern, Jack Gillen, Aaron Craig, Shane Clavin, Ciaran Doyle, Peter Clarke, Rian Holding, Owen McCabe.
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Darren Morrissey, Gearóid McInerney, TJ Brennan; Padraic Mannion, Daithi Burke, Fintan Burke; Cianan Fahy, Joseph Cooney; Brian Concannon; Cathal Mannion, Conor Whelan; Evan Niland. Kevin Cooney, Liam Collins. Subs: Darach Fahy, Jack Grealish, Eoin Lawless, Seán Linnane, Ronan Glennon, Jason Flynn, John Cooney, Declan McLoughlin, Martin McManus, Jarlath Mannion, Jamie Ryan.
Sunday 7th May
Leinster SHC round 3
Antrim v Kilkenny, Corrigan Park, 1pm (GAAGO)
It’s 80 years since Antrim defeated Kilkenny in the 1943 All-Ireland SHC semi-final, and the Saffrons would love nothing more than to celebrate that anniversary in style.
As they showed against Dublin when they were perhaps fortunate to only come away with a draw, they’re a formidable force in Corrigan Park and will make things difficult for the fancied visitors.
Antrim faded badly for a decisive portion of last weekend’s four-point defeat to Wexford, and if they’re to pull off a shock nothing less than a forceful performance for the full 70 minutes plus injury-time will do.
Kilkenny will feel like they threw away victory against Galway last weekend, but they still have far more positives than negatives at this stage of the season.
Eoin Cody is on fire, TJ Reid remains as influential as ever, and Darragh Corcoran excelled when moved to half-back against Galway where he will start this game.
Martin Keoghan made a big impact off the bench in that match and starts in attack for this game, as does Tom Phelan who comes into the half-forward line.
Players like Richie Hogan, Walter Walsh, Padraig Walsh, and Cillian Buckley are included in a strong substitutes list, so even if Antrim are competitive you’d imagine Kilkenny’s strength in depth will see them through.
ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Paddy Burke, Ryan Mc Garry, Niall O’Connor; Gerard Walsh, Eoghan Campbell, Conal Bohill; James Mc Naughton, Michael Bradley; Keelan Molloy, Conal Cunning, Niall McKenna; Conor Johnston, Neil Mc Manus, Rian Mc Mullan. Subs: Tiernan Smyth, Stephen Rooney, Conor Boyd, Enda Og Mc Garry, Caolan Mc Kernan, Scott Walsh, Joe Maskey, Paul Boyle, Eoin O Neill, Seamie Mc Auley, Domhnall Nugent.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; David Blanchfield, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran; Adrian Mullen, Alan Murphy; Tom Phelan, John Donnelly, Billy Ryan; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Eoin Cody. Subs: Darren Brennan, Conor Delaney, Cillian Buckley, Pádraig Walsh, Conor Heary, Cian Kenny, Niall Brennan, Timmy Clifford, Shane Walsh, Walter Walsh, Richie Hogan.