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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Biggest test of Kilkenny's class lies a little further down the tracks

All-Ireland SHC Qualifiers

Colin Fennelly. Pic: Sportsfile
Colin Fennelly. Pic: Sportsfile

Kilkenny v Limerick (Nowlan Park, Tonight, Live Sky Sport 7.0)

It's not quite uncharted territory for Kilkenny but neither is it customary to be so unsure about their ability to challenge for the Liam MacCarthy this deep into the hurling year.

If anything, the performance against Wexford swayed the undecided towards the naysayers.

Apart from Colin Fennelly, TJ Reid, Cillian Buckley and a couple of others in Wexford Park, Kilkenny uniformly failed to win their individual battles and for the first time in a generation, their attack looks to be gummy - if not quite toothless.

Talented

Reid and Richie Hogan's inability to bi-locate leaves Brian Cody with serious decision to make over where best to station his most talented pair.

The loss of Michael Fennelly to injury again deprives him of that brutish physicality he loves around the middle.

Limerick are full of pace and full of running and in Barry Nash and Cian Lynch, have a couple of match-winners.

And all those theories about Kilkenny may well prove prophetic.

But Limerick aren't yet the team to prove them and Nowlan Park is hardly the place.

ODDS: Kilkeny 2/11, Draw 11/1, Limerick 16/5

VERDICT: Kilkenny

Tipp primed to stir

Tipperary v Westmeath (Semple Stadium, Thurles, Today, 5.0)

Word seeping from Tipperary prior to last Monday's draw was that the squad had regrouped with a vengeance and were ready to unleash on someone soon.

Since that loss to Cork and the dropping of Cathal Barrett and all the scandalous rumours of in-fighting and goat-acting, Tipperary are understood to be hopping off the ground again and maybe they will reflect on this season and see that they needed a storm to clear the clouds.

That they drew Westmeath was seen largely as an anticlimax and today will be a clinical victory, even if their brio will be stored for later use.

ODDS: Tipperary 1/500, Draw 50/1, Westmeath 50/1

VERDICT: Tipperary

Déise to strike back

Offaly v Waterford (O'Connor Park, Tullamore, Today, 3.0)

The gods of qualifier draws haven't been kind to Offaly of late and given their current state, this was a stinker.

Waterford have been on the warpath over Stephen Bennett's 'trial by TV' but their flatness against Cork will have been a more pressing issue for manager Derek McGrath over the past fortnight.

In Shane Dooley and Oisín Kelly, Offaly retain the ability to score but ineffectiveness elsewhere will scupper their chances of avoiding a mauling at home.

ODDS: Offaly 12/1, Draw 25/1, Waterford 1/50

VERDICT: Waterford

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