ALLIANZ NHL DIVISION 1
KILKENNY v GALWAY
(Nowlan Pk, Tomorrow 2.30, deferred TG4)
TWO teams with very different graphs collide in Nowlan Park tomorrow. Kilkenny, after halting their 'losing streak' of two back-to-back matches in Parnell Park last Sunday, are likely to be on the way up.
Galway followed defeat by Tipp with a poor display, despite their victory, against Offaly and it seems as though their form has taken a turn for the worse.
The Ballyhale Shamrocks contingent returned to Kilkenny training on Tuesday night, strengthening Cody's squad not just with quality hurlers but successful and sharp ones too, though Henry Shefflin has been given an extended leave of absence as Cody tries to keep his talisman fresh for the real hurling later in the year.
John McIntyre has been given some good news this week, though, after it was confirmed that top scorer Iarla Tannion (3-6 in the league so far) could return from the hand injury suffered against Tipperary earlier than expected, while the Portumna gang could all play some part.
ODDS: Kilkenny 2/5, Draw 10/1, Galway 9/4
OFFALY v LIMERICK
(Tullamore, Tomorrow 2.30)
WE can see the post-match quotes now: "Ah, I'm not talking about Tuesday night any more. That was a different night and I'm just happy with how these new lads battled today," says Justin McCarthy as he skips across O'Connor Park at a pace lively enough to scupper the attempts of the pack of reporters trailing in his slipstream to extract anything of meaning from the Corkman.
The vote is in and Justin stays, but the new equation is this: unless some of the disaffected 2009 players swallow hard and return soon, Limerick's year will be a write-off, featuring increasingly heavy defeat after defeat.
ODDS: Offaly 1/12, Draw 14/1, Limerick 7/1
TIPPERARY v WATERFORD
(Thurles, Tomorrow 2.30)
SUCH was Limerick's ineptitude last Sunday that Liam Sheedy could rest a cluster of championship certainties, then take off a large chunk of the remaining quality during the game, ease up, and then win by 22 points.
Duly, Brendan Cummins, Declan Fanning, Conor O'Mahony, Shane Maher, Lar Corbett, Noel McGrath and John O'Brien all return for tomorrow.
Davy Fitzgerald's Waterford must take great solace from drawing a great game with Cork last Sunday, while Eoin Kelly's 1-17 personal haul is unlikely to be matched by anyone this year.
But Tipp are starting to click in a big way.
ODDS: Tipp 2/7, Draw 10/1, Waterford 3/1
BY CONOR McKEON