Cats to Come Through in Thurles

Lonesharkoy looks at two of Sunday's leading Championship games - one hurling and the other football.

Kilkenny vs Limerick

In advance of tomorrow’s second All-Ireland hurling quarter final, much has been made of Kilkenny having to run the three-game gauntlet that causes so many teams difficulty during the provincial round robin stages. Certainly when we look at the odds that are on offer – 6/5 in places – that is being factored in to a considerable degree by the oddsmakers. There’s no doubt that the third game in a row is a critical factor but when we go through the actual results for teams in this position, in context rather than the bare stats, the evidence is conclusive but not nearly as damning.

In Munster we had:

  • Tipperary, drew with Waterford. Below par for a team that started as 1/4 favourites certainly, but hardly a disaster, and certainly no worse than the likes of their opening round hammering at the hands of Limerick.
  • Waterford, lost heavily to Limerick. A bad beating certainly, but as much about injuries as it was fatigue, while again it was no worse than they fared in week one.
  • Limerick, lost heavily to Clare. This was definitely out of character and has to be considered as strong evidence in favour of the hypothesis that playing for a third week in succession is a huge obstacle.

Meanwhile in Leinster there was:

  • Offaly lost heavily to Wexford. Here too, the evidence is somewhat damning. Up to this point the Faithful men had been competitive, but that went out the window here.
  • Wexford, lost at home to Galway. Outclassed certainly, but when we look at other results for Galway and Wexford, it was no more comprehensive than we might expect.
  • Galway, scraped past Dublin. No incentive to try and win the game, so can be dismissed for statistical purposes.

There’s no doubt that Kilkenny have a lot of work to do to muster up a third successive high-level performance, but while we could focus on what Galway did to them in the early stages of last week’s game in Thurles, we could also look at the way they came back into the tie. What other team in the country could have rallied as they did?

There is every possibility that Galway will win this year’s hurling All-Ireland without anyone laying a hand on them – and be under no illusion that if you’re from Athenry or Clarinbridge, you want a Limerick win in Thurles tomorrow. Colin Fennelly comes in for the injured Walter Walsh, but we expect it’s not the last we’ll see of the big target man this year – Kilkenny will get another game.

Recommendation

Kilkenny @ 6/5, generally available

Kerry vs Galway

These sides met in an All-Ireland quarter-final last year and Kerry won well. The Kingdom have started this year by looking incredibly impressive against Clare and Cork in the Munster championship. However the extent of challenge faced by Kerry is questionable. On paper, the Munster championship should be one of the stronger provincial competitions in the country, with four teams that finished in the top twelve teams in Ireland according to the recent Allianz League. However subsequent results – and indeed performances – from Clare and Cork suggest that when the championship came around, they simply weren’t at the pitch they needed to be.

By contrast, Galway have come through two very tough tests against Mayo and Roscommon and, quite clearly, have made significant strides forward since the 2017 championship. Kerry won’t be able to just fill their boots on Sunday as they did in their provincial championship, and while they are the county with a little bit more upside, Galway deserve far more credit that odds like those available afford them.

Kerry are undoubtedly a better team than they were last year, but they’re going to be subjected to their first meaningful challenge tomorrow, and against a battle-hardened Galway side with a strong sense of what they want to do and to achieve, they won’t have it easy. 2/1 would be fair value, 3/1 is possibly on the generous side.

Recommendation

Galway @ 3/1, generally available

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