GROUP BCARLOW v DCU (Dr Cullen Pk, Tom 2.0)
CARLOW v DCU (Dr Cullen Pk, Tom 2.0)
IN normal circumstances you'd automatically plump for DCU but, with no tangible prize on offer, this isn't the straightforward call you might otherwise expect. After all, in the past week, Carlow defeated a Wicklow crew who had earlier drawn with the Students. Much may depend on which DCU team is selected and their mindset come throw-in.
WESTMEATH v OFFALY (Mullingar, Tom, 2.0)
AS with the above, player availability could be the key. Westmeath had no Dessie Dolan, Denis Glennon (or Callum McCormack from early doors) against Laois on Wednesday night and their lack of scoring punch ultimately told. Offaly have made a flying start under new boss Emmet McDonnell, who'll be hoping to put one over his native county here. All they need is a draw; the in-form Niall McNamee could be the man to seal their semi-final place.
LAOIS v ATHLONE IT (Portarlington, Tom 2.0)
THE students have coughed up 4-33 in just two matches, an ominous portent against opponents who could still sneak a semi-final place in a three-way play-off if Westmeath do them a favour in Mullingar.
KILDARE v WEXFORD (Newbridge, Tom 2.0)
THERE'S an obvious subplot here -- Jason Ryan's first encounter with his old Wexford charges since joining the Kildare backroom team. This might be the only reason for some competitive spice, given that the Lilies are already guaranteed semi-final progress while Aidan O'Brien's Wexford reign has got off to a worrying start with back-to-back defeats by DIT and Carlow IT.
CARLOW IT v DIT (Carlow IT, Tom 2.0)
ON paper, DIT have the stronger hand and they should make it count, even on enemy turf.
By FRANK ROCHE