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Monday 11 December 2017

Leinster look likely to be top Cats at Nowlan

LEINSTER v MUNSTER

(Nowlan Park, Tomorrow, 2.0)

THE story goes that players love playing for their province ... it's just the fans that don't care, at least not in sufficient numbers.

That theory certainly rings true when you cast your beady eye through the respective Leinster and Munster squads for tomorrow's semi-final. There are 13 Kilkenny men in Joe Dooley's Leinster squad, and nine Tipperary hurlers in the Munster panel assembled by their former county manager, Liam Sheedy.

Do the maths: that's 22 players who togged out for their counties on All-Ireland final day last September. All decorated hurlers, needless to say, who don't view the revival of the Interprovincial series as a complete waste of their time, even as they limber up for the launch of another busy league season.

Dooley, you suspect, will also include several of his Dublin cohort in his starting 15. It remains to be seen whether Liam Rushe is thrown straight back into the starting fray, given that he only made his comeback from a broken hand in the Fitzgibbon Cup last Tuesday night.

His fellow 'Dub', Ryan O'Dwyer, will doubtless relish the chance to have another cut off his erstwhile Tipp comrades. As for the outcome, this is a real toss-up but a team backboned by Cats operating in their own backyard looks the marginally better bet.

ODDS: Leinster 4/5, Draw 9/1, Munster 11/10

VERDICT: Leinster

CONNACHT v ULSTER

(Ballinasloe, Tomorrow, 2.0)

LAST weekend provided an all-too-rare sprinkle of stardust for Ulster hurling, as Loughgiel put paid to the All-Ireland club ambitions of Na Piarsaigh after extra-time. You shouldn't expect the same level of excitement and passion here ... or a similar surprise outcome either. Connacht/Galway to advance with plenty to spare.

ODDS: Connacht 1/10, Draw 14/1, Ulster 11/2

VERDICT: Connacht

-- BY FRANK ROCHE

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