Darren Frehill setup the draw beautifully this morning. Larry McCarthy on hand to complete the All Ireland series opening round qualifier draw and it did not disappoint as Clare and Wexford were paired together.
Cork and Galway have the weekend off but they will be fully aware that the victors this weekend will have momentum heading into the next round of qualifiers.
Tough fixture for Laois as hungry Waterford awaits
The draw this morning saw Laois fresh from their win over Antrim play a Waterford side who will be keen to get back to winning ways after a performance against Clare which was criticized by head coach Liam Cahill.
Laois provided good moments aplenty last weekend against Antrim but you would fear for them. Wexford exposed massive issues for Laois defensively and Waterford’s run game spells a long afternoon at Nowlan Park this weekend.
Liam Cahill will be keen to give some squad players game time and an opportunity to stake a claim for the starting lineup against either Cork or Galway next time out. Motivation aplenty for Waterford here.
Laois under Cheddar Plunkett are safe from relegation but Plunkett was pragmatic post game after the Antrim win to say that there was plenty of improvement required for the county to compete. This weekend may provide more proof of that.
Davy and Brian renew rivalries
The marquee fixture is in Thurles as Clare and Wexford renew acquaintances. A good rivalry has formed in recent years with Davy Fitzgerald’s connections to both counties.
The relationship between Fitzgerald and Brian Lohan is one that is as brutally honest as it was during their playing days with Clare. This one looks feisty on paper again.
Rewind the tape to last year’s championship encounter. Wexford were second best to Clare in Portlaoise when Tony Kelly produced a masterclass. Wexford will be eager not to repeat a dismal exit like last year.
Wexford killer instinct?
The Wexford performance against Kilkenny was excellent in parts but again questions on their ability to kill teams off surfaced at the end of regular time. Some key scores missed and opened the door for Kilkenny.
The sin bin of Eoin Murphy also represented an opportunity for Wexford to move on and close the game out but Kilkenny contained the threat. Once they had their opportunity to close the game out, they did not think twice.
Clare progressing but issues to address
Clare have improved after a shock opening Allianz NHL round loss to Antrim. They have accounted for Kilkenny in the league and their performance over Waterford was workmanlike and should have being much easier only for poor finishing.
The Tipp game. The Aidan McCarthy incident is the talking point. Sin bin and penalty swung the game in Tipperary’s favor but the early promise evaporated as Clare then went deep in the forward line. They allowed Tipperary to setup a platform in the half back line and with no inside full forward line, the initiative of the game was lost.
Clare need to go back to the two man full forward line. Shanagher and Kelly inside will pose Wexford defensively issues provided early ball is supplied.
John Conlon at half-back needs a big performance this weekend. His distribution is outstanding but he left ball inside particularly in that second half where Callanan’s influence was huge.
An intriguing fixture. The end of the championship for a quality outfit here and the year will be described as an utter failure for the vanquished.
Wexford need to provide that killer instinct in the forward line. O’Connor, Chin and McDonald need to be the key men and nail key opportunities when they arise. Otherwise Clare should prevail and questions on Davy’s future with Wexford will surface yet again.