Twenty four hours after the big Leinster clash in Portlaoise, all hurling eyes will turn towards Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the meeting of Cork and Tipperary. The reigning Munster champions have the advantage of an opening round success over Limerick, and that is a big help.
Tipp looked sluggish at times in the Limerick game, but the manner of its success, coming with a late rally should see the team play with much more confidence against Cork.
Sunday’s game will be Cork’s first outing since their heavy defeat to Kilkenny in the League final. Manager Jimmy Barry Murphy thought he had assembled a decent side up to the Kilkenny game, but his team’s performance that afternoon has necessitated a major reassessment of the squad.
It is on occasions like Sunday that the loss of captain Donal Óg Cusack will be sorely felt. His influence has always been significant, as is his goalkeeping ability.
The Cork defence was all at sea against Kilkenny without Cusack’s guidance. He will be sitting in the dugout on Sunday, but his leadership will be a huge loss out on the pitch.
Maher a key man
It was noticeable in the Tipperary versus Limerick game that the introduction of Patrick Maher was the key to Tipperary eventually wearing down the Shannonsiders. Maher may not be the most skilful of hurlers or a regular scorer, but his grafting and work rate are vital.
Lar Corbett will be back on the Tipp match day panel, and even if he does not start, his availability is an important option for manager, Declan Ryan.
The atmosphere in Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be electric, as it always is for a Cork versus Tipperary clash. Tipp will be favourites, but home advantage will be important to Cork.
The players relish playing on their home patch, but unless the Cork mentors have sorted a range of inadequacies which were evident in the League final, it is hard to see the Rebels preventing Tipperary from reaching another Munster final.
Galway gave an accomplished display on Sunday when easily disposing of Offaly to reach the Leinster final in early July. The Westerners amassed an impressive 5-23, but will be concerned at the concession of 3-15.
The latter score would win most championship games. The writing was on the wall for Offaly after five minutes when Galway had two goals on the scoreboard. Both goals were the result of dreadful Offaly defending and it was an uphill battle thereafter.
In their opening round tie against Wexford the Offaly defence struggled to cope at times. The difference this time was that Galway had a more clinical attack which punished almost every error by the Offaly rearguard.
Good and strong
If Galway will be a little uneasy at conceding 3-15, the team mentors will also be a little worried at the manner in which the team dropped the tempo in the second half. However, that was probably understandable given the margin between the sides from the early stages.
This was a typical Galway early-championship performance, full of energy and running and with a sharp eye for goal. The current Offaly side is not equipped to live with that style right now and we got a result that was inevitable.
Experience was the key to Waterford’s narrow victory over Clare, but when Davy Fitzgerald looks back on this game he will rue many missed scoring opportunities in the closing five minutes.
Clare is young, but very naive and it showed on many occasions last Sunday. There is no magic formula for Davy Fitzgerald and his players other than to continue the hard work he has already commenced.
Full credit to Waterford for reaching yet another Munster final! The old hands led the way, but the astute introduction of a number of young players paid rich dividends.
After a slow start, this was a highly entertaining game. Well done to both teams!