ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE
GALWAY v KILKENNY
(Pearse Stadium, Tomorrow 2.30, live TG4)
IN last year's corresponding fixture, Galway's Iarla Tannion was sprung from the bench to score 2-1 in the last 10 minutes, thereby securing a thrilling Nowlan Park victory for the Tribesmen.
Forgive us our scepticism but, even with home advantage now, Galway may struggle to replicate that win.
For starters, the aforementioned reversal was Kilkenny's third defeat of a very untypical league campaign, whereas Brian Cody's men have started with three wins on the bounce this spring.
Secondly, Galway's lengthy injury list (including such marquee names as Joe Canning, Damien Hayes and Shane Kavanagh) may be starting to take its toll, judging from last Sunday's first league defeat on Leeside.
Thirdly, during his pre-match oratory, Cody will doubtless name-check last year's home defeat (and blissfully forget the Leinster final) to get the competitive juices flowing ... expect no half-measures from the wounded Cats this season.
"This is a terrific test for us," said Cody during the week. "If we can win we would be in a strong position. That is what you want at this time of year; you want this sort of match with something meaningful at stake. We're looking forward to the challenge.
"Galway are a big team, one of the biggest in the Leinster championship."
So it's a done deal? Perhaps not quite. Kilkenny may be winning but they aren't brushing aside rivals with the merciless streak of old: otherwise Cork wouldn't have almost come back from the dead and Wexford wouldn't have won the second half last Sunday. Expect more of the same here: Galway will tear into the visitors and the visitors will still do enough.
ODDS: Galway 7/4, Draw 10/1, Kilkenny 1/2