Former Cork Star Tom Kenny previews this weekends hurling quarter finals for Sportstalk. The Grenagh man gives the nod to Waterford and Clare.
Waterford v Wexford
Wexford will be delighted to have reached the quarter final stage of the hurling championship. They were outsiders against Cork but were the hungrier team in that game and deservedly take their place in Thurles this Sunday. Conor McDonald is spear heading the Wexford attack this year and he will be hoping to take a leaf out of the Tipperary manual and raise a green flag against Waterford.
Waterford will be thoroughly disappointed with their Munster Final showing. For all their development and progress under Derek McGrath, on paper they are no closer to Tipperary than their 2011 Munster final mauling. However, this is the perfect opportunity for them to get their season back on the road. Their U-21 contingent will have got that Munster final showing out of their system and will be all guns blazing to make amends.
I don’t believe Waterford should alter or change their system just because it was taken apart in one game. Being a teacher Derek McGrath will have learned some invaluable lessons from that defeat and I expect them to be put to good use in the first game on Sunday. I believe that Wexford are in bonus territory and should approach this game by going at Waterford straight away. It will be high scoring and potentially open but the Deise to advance to the semi-finals.
Clare v Galway
This has the makings of a fantastic game of a hurling. Galway will be bitterly disappointed after their Leinster Final showing. For the second time in 9 months, their second half performance left them down badly. Galway have a Jekyll and Hyde nature to their performances – brilliant one day/half, disappointing the next day/half. If Galway could manage to perform to a consistent level throughout games, they would be serious All Ireland contenders every year. This is the perfect opportunity for them to start laying those accusations to bed. Beat their near neighbours from the Banner and people will be more supportive.
If anything, Clare are productive this season. They have secured their promotion from Division 1B and went onto win their first League title for the first time in over years. I believe losing to Waterford in the subsequent Munster match after that League final has helped dampen the hype around the team. In Donal Og Cusack, Clare have a shrewd thinker of the game of hurling and between Davy and himself, there is some serious knowledge of hurling on the side-line. But I hope that the Clare players won’t show signs of paralysis by analysis.
This will be a very close game to call and while the first game could be open and high scoring, this game could see some fire and brimstone. The bookies have the draw at 9/1 and it is very tempting to say that the draw is the one to go with. However, coming down the home stretch, Clare’s greater cohesion should get them over the line to see them reach their first semi-final since that breath-taking year of 2013.