SEMI-FINAL REPLAY PREVIEW
So, have we all got our breaths back by now?! Last Sunday’s semi final well and truly lit up the Championship and the replay tomorrow evening is eagerly awaited by all hurling fans . The question as to who has the advantage heading into Saturday still remains– will Waterford carry their form and belief into the replay or can Kilkenny reach the necessary improvement all round to reach another Final.
Kilkenny are unchanged while the Deise have not yet named their team – perhaps they will retain the same fifteen though Colin Dunford might be a better option off the bench this time with Patrick Curran starting. Stephen Bennett could also be a wildcard judging by his displays at Under-21 level.
From a Noreside perspective, I would have some concerns that the tank is running low, with a lot of miles built up and that our strength in depth would not be as good as Waterford’s. Eoin Larkin made a big impact when introduced last Sunday but I’d like to see a chance taken on Kevin Kelly who would be someone different for Waterford to think about. John Power might also have a greater impact coming on as a sub. His pace and strength is the last thing a tired defender might want to see in the second-half.
While the Deise midfield did well last week, they missed the scoring threat which Daragh Fives provides – if he is fit it would be a major plus for them. I expect another fiercely-contested encounter and have a hunch that both teams will get goals. Don’t rule out extra-time, as it happened when the sides met in an All-Ireland qualifier in Thurles in 2013, but I give Kilkenny a hesitant vote to prevail, by three points.
In the second semi-final on Sunday,I believe Tipp can gain revenge on Galway for their semi-final defeat last year but it will be tight. The Premier’s greater degree of scoring options, with the return of Bubbles Dwyer now too, might prove the decisive factor.
Enjoy the games!