| 9.5°C Dublin

Yellowbellies to be rumbled by fired-up Kilkenny


(Nowlan Park, Tomorrow 2.30)

FANCY a quick and risk-free way to make a thousand euro? No problem -- but you'll need €25,000 of your own collateral to seal the deal.

Once upon a time, Kilkenny and Wexford were arch-rivals guaranteed to serve up a skin-and-hair flying experience whenever they met -- with no guarantees about the final outcome.

Not any more, it would seem, based on the match odds below. In truth, the fact that Kilkenny are a prohibitive 1/25 to claim the spoils, with Wexford a distant 10/1, isn't remotely surprising.

These counties have been heading in polar directions for many years, even before that standout shock of the 2004 championship when Michael Jacob's injury-time goal sealed a remarkable Leinster semi-final victory for the Yellowbellies.

The same Jacob is recalled to the starting team for tomorrow's daunting trek into enemy terrain: the versatile veteran starts in a new midfield role, having come off the bench during the narrow defeat by Waterford.

But his brother Rory is among the omissions in a team showing several changes, including one enforced by injury to key defender Keith Rossiter.


For Colm Bonnar, that two-point Déise reversal constituted a moral victory of sorts after the day one debacle in Pearse Stadium.

"We were shellshocked against Galway" was how Bonnar described that 21-point rout.

The unspoken fear tomorrow, of course, will be that Kilkenny are capable of inflicting something similar if the merciless mood takes them.

Brian Cody's men have made it two wins from two, against Tipp and Cork.

At the same time, they haven't exactly hurled like men possessed by their drive-for-five demons. Richie Hogan salvaged victory against Cork they lost their Walsh Cup final to Dublin.

Clearly Kilkenny aren't fully up to speed yet but there is every chance that they'll be smarting from that rare defeat by the Dubs.

All of which threatens to spell bad news for you-know-who.

ODDS: Kilkenny 1/25, Draw 16/1, Wexford 10/1

VERDICT: Kilkenny