WITH a couple of honourable exceptions, most top-flight hurling teams seem to be veering between brilliant and brutal right now.
John McIntyre's Galway, the long-established high kings of inconsistency, took this theme a step further last Sunday.
After 32 minutes, they led Tipperary in their own Semple Stadium patch in Thurles by 0-13 to 1-4. They were positively regal. And then they scored just one more point, losing by nine at the finish.
This isn't the first time that John McIntyre has witnessed a costly fade-out, but this one bordered on embarrassing.
Suffice to say, the return of Joe Canning (heroic in defeat for Portumna against Ballyhale Shamrocks last Wednesday in the All-Ireland Club SHC final in Croke Park) can't come quickly enough.
Big Joe won't be starting tomorrow but we'll take his county colleagues on trust (we're in a risky mood!) on the grounds that McIntyre will have demanded them to shape up against his former Offaly charges -- or else ship out.
ODDS: Galway 2/11, Draw 10/1, Offaly 9/2
WATERFORD v CORK
(Walsh Park, Tomorrow, 2.30, Live TG4)
THERE'S nothing quite like the quiet life, is there? Cork are a strike-free zone and the benefits are there for all to see, with three wins on the trot, including last Sunday's uplifting triumph against Kilkenny.
This certainly wasn't a flawless display, with some of those old forward failings still evident. By way of proof, consider this: Cork required two fine saves from Donal óg Cusack as well as seven points from their inspirational wing-back, John Gardiner, to dig out a two-point win, even though Kilkenny, already depleted, were forced to play with 14 men for half the game.
Suffice to say, even more so in the circumstances of their numerical supremacy, this was a game that Cork needed to win far more than Kilkenny.
Suitably buoyed, we'll take the Rebels to push on against a Waterford team which emerged from first- quarter slumberland to eventually cruise past Limerick with 10 points to spare at the finish.
ODDS: Waterford 7/5, Draw 9/1, Cork 4/6
LIMERICK v TIPPERARY
(Gaelic Grounds, Tomorrow, 2.30)
THIS game could well constitute the second-last act in this sorry Shannonside saga, as club delegates prepare to vote next Tuesday on whether they retain confidence in Justin McCarthy.
Given the divisive nature of this split, it's debatable whether those clubs pushing for McCarthy's axe will receive the two-thirds majority that their motion will need. But McCarthy will find himself in an impossible position if (a) a simple majority vote against him and (b) the vast majority of senior clubs are in the 'no' camp.
They will lose tomorrow, possibly by another double-digit margin to match last weekend's 10-point loss to Waterford, when not even the fillip of two Paudie McNamara goals in the first 11 minutes could stave off the inevitable.
ODDS: Limerick 14/1, Draw 20/1, Tipperary 1/100