herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Banner men to have the last shout

LIMERICK v CLARE

(Gaelic Grounds, Tonight 7.0, deferred Setanta Ireland)

THIS isn't the first time John Allen has moved seamlessly into a hotseat vacated by Donal O'Grady. Allen duly retained the All-Ireland for his native Cork in 2005 but he's starting from a less ambitious base in Limerick, notwithstanding the excellent progress made under O'Grady's watch last year.

The Banner, likewise, have a new boss and you can expect them to be utterly driven by Davy Fitz. The early signs have offered some encouragement, too: Clare played some unseasonally eye-catching hurling against Waterford in the Waterford Crystal semi-final, having qualified after two battling encounters with Limerick.

They won that Gaelic Grounds replay in the dying seconds, so tonight's rematch shouldn't leave them in mortal fear. Expect it to be close ...

ODDS: Limerick 8/11, Draw 8/1, Clare 11/8

VERDICT: Clare

OFFALY v LAOIS

(Tullamore, Tomorrow 2.30)

ANOTHER tale of new bosses. Ollie Baker's Offaly tenure began badly with a Walsh Cup defeat to Westmeath -- unlike Teddy McCarthy's in Laois, given they scalped Dublin. Still, Offaly bounced back in the Shield and, even minus their Coolderry contingent, are fancied here.

ODDS: Offaly 2/9, Draw 11/1, Laois 7/2

VERDICT: Offaly

ANTRIM v WEXFORD

(Casement Park, Tomorrow 2.30)

NOT exactly the ideal fixture for Liam Dunne to launch his league managerial career, given how Wexford teams travelled to Antrim in 2008 and 2009 and came away empty-handed each time. Still, the absence of the All-Ireland chasing Loughgiel crew might tilt the balance back in favour of the visitors.

ODDS: Antrim 7/2, Draw 10/1, Wexford 1/4

VERDICT: Wexford

- BY FRANK ROCHE

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