Winners And Losers For The Weekend’s Action
By Joel Slattery
After an enjoyable weekend of hurling, some teams set themselves up nicely for a knock-out stage run while other are staring down the barrel of relegation. Here, are our biggest winners and losers from the weekend.
The purists in Thurles:
It was a good, old-fashioned helter-skelter battle between Tipperary and Kilkenny on Saturday night. Okay, so maybe the floodlight and the game being exclusive on satellite television won’t please the purists, but the action on the field was incredible from start to finish. This was a pulsating clash and undoubtedly the game of the year so far. If both sides can maintain this level of performance and even improve as we head into summer, then the other counties better be on notice. This was a fantastic encounter and the fact it was a draw whets the appetite for more between these sides later in the year.
The one-on-one penalty:
Goalkeepers have had the upper hand in this battle of wits since the ‘Nash rule’ came into effect. However, in both of Saturdaynight’s games, there was penalties converted. We even got some goalie versus goalie action in Portlaoise and TJ Reid hit a brace in the aforementioned game in Thurles. While you want goalkeepers to have a chance at saving them, the advantage should be firmly with the striker, otherwise we would see endless amounts of cynical play.
They have seen the more column inches written about them than any other side and they saw out the win over Offaly to seal promotion. Obviously, this is a game they were expected to win, but after wins over Limerick and Galway led to, dare I say it, hype, surrounding Wexford, they held their nerve and saw out the job.
Having shipped 40 points against Galway (3-31), the Midlanders had a score of over 50 put up on them (6-33) on Saturdaynight. The Leinster side have shipped 13-98 in just four games to date, far more than any other side in the country. It has been a torrid spring for Laois who, at this rate, look like they could really struggle in the Leinster qualifying group.
After Tipp and Kilkenny, The Deise have the infamous ‘best of the rest’ tag, usually reserved for Galway. However, despite this, they were well beaten by Cork down in Walsh Park on Sunday, in a game where they were comfortably second best. Like everyone not named Tipperary, they can still be dragged into the relegation mess, which is something they will look to avoid.
They were never expecting to beat Wexford but sitting at the bottom of 1B with no points is a bad look for the Faithful. Luckily for them, it is very hard to get relegated from the second tier as even if they lose in a relegation playoff, they then have a promotion/relegation playoff to fall back on, most likely against Antrim or Carlow.