ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 1A
TIPPERARY v DUBLIN
(Thurles, Tomorrow, 2.0, TG4 Deferred)
IN this Division 1A, the League which has carried last year's levelling of standards amongst hurling's elite into a new season and held its form so true that victories and valuable points have, 11 times from 12 so far, gone to the side playing at home.
Which, of course, means Dublin will lose in Thurles tomorrow, doesn't it?
Comparatively, Dublin's two home performances (authoritative and at least mildly redemptive wins over Clare and Kilkenny) and their away efforts (defeats by Galway and Waterford) have been taken from both sides of their collective personality, but even within that, there are shades of grey.
"I would still argue to this day that in the Waterford game, we produced a fair bit of fight and a fair bit of tenacity," Anthony Daly told the Herald this week.
"That goal and a point at the end of the game in Waterford, when we never gave up, how important might that be on Sunday evening?"
It's a pertinent point and one that might well save Dublin, even if the permutations are too many, complicated, varied and dependent on other results to fully divulge here.
But if Dublin win, there is more than a good chance they make the quarter-finals and should they lose, the most likely ending to their spring is a relegation play-off.
Well ... sort of.
A loss, depending on the margin of Tipp's superiority, might be dependent on a likely Waterford defeat and the size thereof in Nowlan Park.
"We just never took our chances," he said of Walsh Park and a stodgy performance in worse conditions. "And we gave away too many silly frees.
"But in terms of Walsh Park and Salthill, they were oceans apart, to be honest with you. I mean, the tackle count in Waterford was almost identical to Waterford's tackle count. The scoring chances were almost the same as Waterford's.
"Whereas in Salthill, both of those were embarrassingly one-sided. That's always the way we judge ourselves ... first and foremost in the tackle count," he said.
Encouragingly for Dublin, both Danny Sutcliffe and Niall Corcoran have been named to start, despite being doubts earlier this week, with Simon Timlin coming in for Cian O'Callaghan at corner-back in the only change from the Kilkenny win.
So Dublin travel settled, in good spirits, high confidence and now, in this new phase of their collective maturity, without much internal pressure or expectation.
And what of Tipp?
They are, so far, the only team in Division 1A to lose a home match. Moreover, they should have lost two, only for Stephen O'Keeffe's slippery hand gaff on the League's opening night depriving Waterford their win.
For some reason, Eamon O'Shea reckons tomorrow afternoon is a good time to give Darragh Egan his debut in goals.
Egan's last involvement with Tipperary was back in 2010, when he came on as a substitute in an All-Ireland qualifier and scored a goal and a point from attack.
Conor O'Brien, Kieran Bergin and Jason Forde also come into the team as Pádriac Maher is out with injury, Conor Kenny to illness, and Michael Heffernan dropped.
This week, O'Shea admitted his team were a little "edgy" about their mini predicament.
Which wasn't nearly so blunt as the assessment of John McIntyre, who, when speaking on Tipp FM, described Tipp's position as being "in a hole", the team of "lacking confidence", and went on to question the wisdom of O'Shea bringing Kieran McGeeney into the management team.
"The one thing that also struck me about Tipperary was their lack of physique, their lack of big men, their inability to win primary possession," he added, with specificity. "They were too easily 'hooshed' off the ball and they looked physically light compared to Galway."
It's all very long-grassy sort of talk and remember, O'Shea stood over that flukey Waterford victory and told anyone who'd listen that he had no, repeat – no, spring expectations for his team.
And for what it's worth, the last time these teams played each other, Tipp beat Dublin seven shades of purple, a 4-20 to 0-17 rout that was both humiliating and over by half-time.
Yet Dublin lasted three rounds and two months longer in the summer.
It's effectively a toss-up but if Dublin get physical, like they did against Kilkenny, and find the net – as they have done five times in four games – early on, they can keep Tipp in this current rut for a little while longer.
Still, home advantage rules and Tipp ain't as bad as some are making out.
Then again, Dublin's form has, by their own admission, been inconsistent.
It's just a hunch but Dublin to do it.
ODDS: Tipperary 8/13, Draw 10/1, Dublin 6/4