Kilkenny v Waterford, Saturday, 7pm, Thurles
Old foes Kilkenny and Waterford meet in what is a big game for both sides on Saturday. The sides met last year in the All-Ireland semi-final where they played out a draw in the opening game, however Kilkenny won the replay at this venue and they will have the psychological edge coming into it. Kilkenny had a narrow win over Limerick at Nowlan Park on Saturday evening last winning by 0-20 to 0-17. A few players stood out for Kilkenny, players like the impressive TJ Reid, Walter Walsh and Cillian Buckley who played at centre back. At full back Padraig Walsh was very comfortable. Michael Fennelly and Paddy Deegan both also impressed. However, Brian Cody will be hoping he can get more from Richie Hogan, Ger Aylward and Colin Fennelly.
Derek McGrath’s Waterford travel to Thurles in high hopes after easing past Offaly in Tullamore by 24 points last weekend. Austin Gleeson looked back to his very best scoring 0-06 from play, while Jamie Barron, Pauric Mahony and Kevin Moran also all played. McGrath will look to these players again in what is set to be a massive crowd at Thurles. More will need to come from Brick Wash, Stephen Bennett and Tadgh De Burca though.
This game is very hard to call. Going by statistics, Waterford haven’t beaten Kilkenny in championship hurling in 50 years so Kilkenny would seem to have the edge. Kilkenny are 4/5 to win this, while Waterford are 13/10. There is very little to separate the sides going into this but I think Waterford’s failure to score goals will be their downfall on Saturday as Kilkenny with the likes of Fennelly, Hogan and Aylward are bound to have big games. Kilkenny to win, but only just by a point or two.