Jamesie O’Connor and Ollie Canning gave their predictions ahead of the weekend’s hurling action, speaking on Inside The Game.
Waterford vs Clare
Two counties who endured hugely disappointing seasons in 2019 have a golden opportunity to reach an All-Ireland semi-final.
The Banner have built momentum through the qualifiers, as they look to return to the last four after their 2018 heartbreak at the penultimate stage.
The Déise have been resurgent under Liam Cahill, and will be buoyed by their display in the Munster final.
Canning: “I think Liam Cahill has a serious problem to solve in the run-in this week, and that problem is Tony Kelly. I feel myself that Waterford will have gained a lot of confidence from that Limerick game. I know they are coming off a loss to a Limerick team who are most people’s All-Ireland favourites at this point.
“So they will have taken confidence from that performance, even though they came up four points short. I think Waterford will solve that Tony Kelly problem. I don’t think Tony will get the free run that he had the last day against Wexford. So I’m going to give a slight nod to Waterford.
“They’re coming with something different this year. Their support play from the back is good. They look like a team that has really, they’re in great physical condition.
“If they can get a performance out of Austin Gleeson for 70 minutes, I’d give Waterford a great chance against Clare.”
O’Connor: “I think Clare have a good chance. We have got a great record against Waterford, we’ve beaten them the last two years. We had an extra 24-hours recovery.
“That game on Sunday had to have taken a lot out of Waterford, because Thurles looked relatively soft. They put in a huge amount of effort, and it’s not easy to recovery in six days coming off a defeat. Clare are coming in with the tails up as well, after the performance against Laois they really circled the wagons. They’ll feel very good about themselves.
“It’s a good draw for Waterford in the sense that they avoid Tipp. But it’s also a good draw for Clare.
“If Kelly can deliver a similar performance, and if we can get more from Shane O’Donnell and the other Clare forwards, I think Clare have a great chance. I fancy our chances.”
Galway vs Tipperary
The Tribesmen were stunned in the Leinster final. Having led by five points in the second half, they found themselves victims to a Kilkenny comeback.
Tipperary meanwhile are coming into the tie off the back of a win over old foes Cork, putting their Munster semi-final defeat to Limerick in the rear-view mirror.
Canning: “I think it’s going to be very difficult for Galway the next day. They’re coming from a game that they probably feel they should have wrapped up. Even coming back after being hit for those two goals, they actually responded well but just couldn’t find it within themselves to see that game out. So that’s definitely going to be a bit of a downer for Galway coming out of that game.
“Tipperary on the other hand, I felt in the second-half Cork were starting to gain the upper hand, had the legs on this Tipp team. But Tipperary brought on some subs that really made a difference. If it’s going to be a tight game coming into the last five or 10 minutes, I think Tipperary will have more confidence at that stage of the game. So I would have a worry for my own county Galway coming into this game.
“I’m worried from a Galway point of view.
“My heart is saying Galway but my head is not in full agreement.”
O’Connor: “In Limerick, conditions are completely different to Croke Park where the surface is immaculate. Galway have played their two matches in Croke Park. Limerick is a different kettle of fish. The ball won’t bounce, the pitch is tighter, and Tipp have an advantage having been there last weekend.
“Physically you’d imagine Galway along with the Treaty are the biggest side in the competition. They’ve plenty of physicality all over the field. I still think there’s an element of unfinished business for Galway in a sense that they won an All-Ireland, were beaten in the final in 2018 and lost that game when they couldn’t really have played any worse on the day, and still had a chance at the very end.
“So you’d imagine there’s still a hunger there, especially to get another crack at Limerick in a big game.
“For me, it’s the toss of a coin, but I’m going to go for Galway, narrowly.”
Watch Waterford vs Clare live on Sky Sports Mix from 2:45pm Saturday.
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