Thursday 22 March 2018

Offaly have all the motivation to win

OFFALY v CLARE (Tullamore, Tomorrow, 2.30)

PREDICTING what Davy Fitzgerald is going to do is about exact a science as playing the Lotto so for the purposes of this preview, we're going to have to rely on hypothesis.

Clearly, Clare are the best, fittest and most in-form team in Division 1B but that won't stop the Sixmilebridge livewire obsessing about the potential perils of the promotion final in two weeks' time - a match the Banner have already qualified for.

So, can we expect to see Clare at full mast in Tullamore? Probably not, but there is no sense speculating on whether Fitzgerald sees Offaly or Limerick or even Antrim as the greatest threat to his topflight ambitions.

Offaly, meanwhile, have a very clear task in hand: win, and a final spot is theirs. It should be motivation enough.

ODDS: Offaly 6/5, Draw 10/1, Clare 4/5


ANTRIM v LIMERICK (Casement Pk, Tom, 2.30)

HOPE springs eternal for both teams here, although neither side's promotion fate is in their own hands.

The permutations are thus: Antrim must win and hope that Clare maintain their 100 per cent record by beating Offaly, in which case the Saffrons will finish second and qualify for the promotion final.

A draw would leave Antrim behind both Limerick and Offaly in the final table but would be enough for John Allen's men only if the Faithful lose in Tullamore.

A Limerick win would see them finish on seven points - a total Offaly could match with victory against Clare - in which case scoring difference (Offaly +16, Limerick +3) would be used to separate them after their draw in the Gaelic Grounds last week. Got it?

ODDS: Antrim 5/2, Draw 10/1, Limerick 4/11

VERDICT: Limerick

WEXFORD v LAOIS (Wexford Pk, Tom, 2.30)

CHOOSE your cliché; phoney war, dead rubber, anticlimax - they all apply. These two will, irrespective of this result and those in Tullamore and Belfast, finish in the bottom two of Division 1A and will meet in the relegation decider in two weeks time.

Which, when you consider Wexford played in hurling's topflight last year, must rank as a fate worse than death. No wonder Liam Dunne has named such an experimental team, although there is a return to the side for veteran defender, Paul Roche.

With nothing at all at stake (and if anything, distinct motivation not to reveal too much about oneself) it's hard to call a winner but we'll go with Wexford on the basis of home advantage. It's not the one they want to win, though.

ODDS: Wexford 2/9, Draw 12/1, Laois 7/2

VERDICT: Wexford


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