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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 22 February, 2019

Waterford and Tipperary to take first steps of recovery, tough task for Limerick and the delayed draw

We take a look at the 5 main talking points from today’s All-Ireland SHC Round 1 qualifier draw.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The All-Ireland SHC Round 1 qualifier draw was made this morning and it threw up the following match-ups:

Dublin v Laois
Kilkenny v Limerick
Offaly v Waterford
Tipperary v Westmeath

Here’s 5 talking points to discuss following the draw.

1. No humdinger

HEAVYWEIGHTS TIPPERARY, KILKENNY and Waterford were all kept apart in today’s draw and that trio, plus Dublin, will be heavily fancied to advance to the next round.

The draw may not have thrown up a humdinger clash, but it did guarantee that after this week we’ll have enticing games for the rest of the summer.

Waterford and Tipperary will be expected to easily account for Offaly and Westmeath respectively. Kilkenny-Limerick is the most intriguing encounter, while Dublin should have too much for Laois.

Just two teams will emerge from the qualifiers to face the losers of the provincial finals in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

2. Waterford and Tipperary handed chance to recover

Both Waterford and Tipperary have been afforded the chance to rediscover their form with ties against Division 1B opposition on Saturday.

Waterford have been handed a reprieve with a trip to take on Offaly. It’s a good opportunity for the Deise to rebuild some confidence following their Munster semi-final loss to Cork.

Noel McGrath Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Tipperary haven’t played a competitive game since their defeat to the Rebels on 21 May, and they’ll be glad to get back into action this weekend. The rumour mill went into overdrive in the Premier County following their shock exit from the Munster SHC, and this clash against Westmeath offers Michael Ryan’s side the chance to put all that nonsense behind them.

Derek McGrath takes his charges into the backdoor for the first time since his debut campaign of 2014 and the game will see Faithful boss Kevin Ryan managing against his native county. It’s a first ever hurling championship meeting between Tipperary and Westmeath.

3. Tough draw for Limerick

The tie of the round is undoubtedly the meeting of Limerick and Kilkenny. Having lost two competitive games in-a-row, it’s reasonable to expect a sting in the tail of the Cats this weekend.

It’s the first clash between these counties since the epic rain-soaked 2014 All-Ireland semi-final, when Kilkenny edged through by 2-13 to 0-17. Wexford’s thrilling win in the Leinster semi-final will give Limerick hope that an upset is possible.

Like Wexford, John Kiely’s Limerick are a young, coming team littered with talented U21s. There are a number of selection issues facing Brian Cody and it’ll be very interesting to see how many changes he makes from the last day out in Wexford Park.

Laois players stand for the national anthem Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

4. Laois hamstrung by injuries

If they weren’t down so many bodies, Laois would be expected to give this young Dublin team a stern examination. The reality is they’re likely to be without John Lennon, Cha Dwyer, Willie Dunphy and Picky Maher through injury, while Ross King is suspended for the game.

The high-profile absentees from the Dublin panel have been well-documented at this point, but a full-strength Laois would fancy their chances against the Metropolitans.

Despite all the stench surrounding Dublin hurling of late, Ger Cunningham’s young guns should come through this with plenty to spare.

5. Five-day turnaround

There have been some grumblings in the hurling community in the past week over the decision to delay the draw until this morning. The Carlow-Laois preliminary round game had to be played first as the latter couldn’t be drawn against Westmeath if they won, but the former could.

Still the eight teams involved only learned of their opponents five days out from the games, giving them very little time to tactically prepare.

Given the level of detail that goes into developing gameplans in the modern game and the ‘last chance’ nature of these ties, such a short turnaround is far from ideal.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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