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5 talking points after the All-Ireland hurling qualifier draw

It’s not hard to pick out the tie of the round.

It's Laois v Waterford and Wexford v Clare in the qualifiers.
It's Laois v Waterford and Wexford v Clare in the qualifiers.
Image: Inpho

1. Davy v Lohan again 

IT WAS WRITTEN in the stars that Clare and Wexford would be drawn together in the opening round of the All-Ireland SHC qualifier draw.

It’s a tie that’s not short of subplots. The fall-out between former team-mates Davy Fitzgerald and Brian Lohan stretches back to the days when they were in charge of LIT and UL respectively.

It had become old news before things ignited recently after two Clare players were named as close contacts when two Wexford players tested positive for Covid-19. It sparked a war of words between both counties.

Prior to that there was the off-season row in Clare that involved the county board where Fitzgerald’s father Pat is long-serving secretary. In last year’s qualifier meeting between the counties, the Wexford boss said he suffered verbal criticism from an individual who was seated in the stand.

Only in his second year in charge of the Banner, this will be Lohan ‘s second championship meeting with Wexford despite playing in different provinces. They’ve also clashed in the league both seasons, with Wexford snatched a late win after a rousing comeback in this year’s game.

2. Byes for wounded Cork and Galway

Even though Clare, Laois and Wexford all won their opening games in the provinces, they came out of the hat in round 1 of the backdoor. 

Cork and Galway, beaten at the first hurdle by Limerick and Dublin in Munster and Leinster respectively, received byes into the second round. Some have suggested the byes should have rewarded sides who picked up championship wins. 

The games will come thick and fast for teams looking to progress to the All-Ireland final through the qualifiers, so Cork and Galway certainly have been given an extra week of preparation time and avoided a potentially tricky tie. 

3. Laois enter bonus territory

Given the space of injuries suffered by Waterford this season, it’s not the worst time for Laois to face them.  

Cheddar Plunkett’s side avoided relegation with a thrilling win over Antrim on Saturday, pulling off a 2-27 to 2-21 victory that saved their season. They lost to the Saffrons in the league and Darren Gleeson’s side surfed the wave of momentum during that campaign. 

Laois are in bonus territory now and nobody expects them to overcome Waterford next weekend. 

But this is a side that defeated Dublin in similar circumstances two summers ago. It can’t be underestimated how much confidence a big championship victory can give a group of players. Waterford must be on their guard.

4. Ideal game to focus Wexford minds

By the end of their Leinster semi-final extra-time loss to Kilkenny, Wexford bodies were strewn all over the Croke Park turf in exhaustion.

Going so close in such a taxing game would have drained minds and bodies, so being drawn in a high-profile qualifier against a team they’ve developed a rivalry with should give them energy. 

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Clare enjoyed a convincing qualifier win last year with Tony Kelly on fire that afternoon.

Davy Fitzgerald admitted recently we didn’t see ‘the real Wexford’ in 2020, so this is a good time for them to return to winning ways against a side who also prevailed in their 2018 All-Ireland quarter-final clash.

5. Deise reaction

Waterford showed good heart to finish within four points of Clare in their Munster SHC meeting, but they’ll know that if the Banner took their chances they could have easily won by double figures. 

Liam Cahill was without a number of key players but would still feel the Deise performed well below their best.

They had just seven of their lLl-Ireland team for the championship opene., Tadhg de Burca is out for the year, while Shane Bennett and Jamie Barron are facing a race to be fit, although Conor Prunty stands a good chance of appearing after returning to training this week. It’s an ideal game for Cahill’s troops to get back on the horse and start building some form. 

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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