Saturday 18 November 2017

Four talking points ahead of this weekend's GAA action

John Hayes being shown a red card during the heavy Munster Final loss to Kerry in Páirc Ui Chaoimh
John Hayes being shown a red card during the heavy Munster Final loss to Kerry in Páirc Ui Chaoimh
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

This weekend sees a hurling double header in Thurles as four teams battle it out to join Cork and Kilkenny in the last four while the All-Ireland football qualifiers continue in Tullamore.

Different Rebels, different result?

Manager Brian Cuthbert has rung the changes for Saturday’s qualifier with Sligo, hardly a surprise given the meek display in the Munster Final defeat to Kerry. Colm O’Neill is sure to add to the firepower up front, but other changes would indicate the Rebels boss is placing a huge amount of faith in the new faces.

Ian Maguire didn’t feature in the National League, but his impressive displays for U-21s will see him line up at midfield with Aidan Walsh, while brothers Colm and Brian O’Driscoll will get their first ever championship starts.

The men from Connacht will not be overawed by the occasion and in light of the recent performances of both sides so far this summer, can justifiably travel in more than just hope to Tullamore.

Cuthbert will hope Cork's season doesn't come to an end before the quarter-final stage after such a bright start to the year that raised expectations around the county.

Can the Tribesmen repel razor-sharp Premier attack?

Tipperary have been blitzing a trail in the qualifiers, seeing off the challenges of Longford and Laois with score lines of 2-17 and 3-17 respectively. Their opponents on Saturday Galway conceded 3-14 to Mayo in the Connacht Final and their defence has been an area of concern for some time.

“We take every game on its merits but we're delighted with the scoring, though, in general.,” Tipp manager Peter Creedon admitted.

Gauging where the Tribesmen are at is difficult based on what we have seen, but the future looks a whole lot brighter than it did following their defeat at the hands of Mayo in 2013.

Tipp come into this encounter with the momentum and few would be surprised to see them advance.

Big job on Peter Kelly’s hands

Dublin possess one of the most accomplished full-backs in hurling in Peter Kelly but he will need to be in top form if Anthony Daly’s side are to progress to a semi-final meeting with Cork.

He will go toe-to-toe with Tipperary’s most potent attacker Seamus Callinan and their duel could be worth the admission fee alone.

Last time out Callinan bagged 2-3 from play against Offaly from 14 plays while against Galway he finished from 3-1 from play.

A difficult game to call is likely to be decided by such small margins as an individual match-up.

Yellowbellies on the march

The hurling championship is matching last year’s incredibly high standards and Wexford have been at the centre of the excitement. Two outstanding displays against Clare that saw them eventually dethrone the All-Ireland champions was followed by another nail biter, this time with victory over near neighbours Waterford.

Munster finalists Limerick stand in their way of a meeting with the Cats in the last four this weekend.

TJ Ryan voiced his disappointment of the provincial defeat to the Rebels and again will look to Shane Dowling and Kevin Downes to lead the attack.

The pair scored four points from play last time out but may need to up that tally if the Treaty men are to put an end to the Wexford’s eye-catching run.

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