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Déise set to sink Lakers

ALL-IRELAND SHC PHASE 1

WESTMEATH v WATERFORD

(Mullingar, Today, 5.0)

WATERFORD have nurtured a habit of meeting expectations – but never bettering them – under Michael Ryan's stewardship and so it has proved this year.

Twice under Ryan they have survived in Division 1A, despite looking ripe for relegation. And despite going down in flames to Clare in Munster, they were better and won well against Offaly in Tullamore last weekened, a team which – given their performance against Kilkenny and home advantage – might have fancied themselves.

And if they can keep Maurice Shanahan in the sort of form he showed last Saturday night (eight points from play) they could yet rattle a few cages further down the tracks, despite recent negative comment from past players.

Waterford have, in recent weeks, had their fitness questioned, and Ryan has had his tactical acumen shown in a non-too-complimentary light. But they can recalibrate today in Mullingar before setting their sights on hurling's prize fish.

Westmeath manager Brian Hanley and captain John Shaw have both publically called for a performance rather than a result, the former pointing to the fact that in Cusack Park they have a tradition of hurling well against the game's aristocrats.

It still should be 10 points plus, though.

ODDS: Westmeath 12/1, Draw 33/1, Waterford 1/50

VERDICT: Waterford

MODELS CAN DRIVE ON

ALL-IRELAND SHC PHASE 1

WEXFORD v CARLOW

(Wexford Park, Tonight, 7.0)

THERE was much comment about the differing paths of the prospective winner/loser of the Dublin/Wexford tie after it went to a replay, given the relative ease of one and the acute difficulty factor of the other.

Now, with the loser of the Dublin/Kilkenny game set to face Tipperary, that very point has only been exacerbated.

From that tempestuous night in Parnell Park which Dublin won, Anthony Daly's team might well have to do nothing worse than lose to arguably hurling's two best teams to exit the championship.

Wexford, who lost, had Antrim and now Carlow – both at home – to get back into summer relevance. Go figure.

Shaun Murphy comes in at midfield, replacing David Redmond, and while it won't prepare them thoroughly for what's coming, Wexford will, at least, find safe passage and a couple of weeks recuperation.

ODDS: Wexford 1/20, Draw 20/1, Carlow 9/1

VERDICT: Wexford

– CONOR McKEON


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