Take Tipp and Galway to set up Allianz Hurling League decider
Allianz Hurling League semi-finals
Wexford v Tipperary (Sunday, Nowlan Park, 4pm, live on TG4)
Limerick v Galway (Sunday, Gaelic Grounds, 2pm, live on TG4)
UNBEATEN Wexford take on All-Ireland champions Tipperary for a place in the Allianz Hurling League final, while in the other semi-final, Galway and Limerick clash for the second time in three weeks.
The rise of the Yellowbellies, seeking a first league title since 1973 and a first appearance in a final since 1993, under Davy Fitzgerald has been the hurling story of the season so far.
How serious a contender they are for major honours will get another rigorous examination in Nowlan Park tomorrow.
They have hardly put a foot wrong so far, in a start to the season that will have thrilled their supporters.
The highlight was the defeat of Kilkenny a fortnight ago.
Central to their victory that day was the attitude that they brought to the game. Not over-awed in the slightest by trotting out into the Lion’s den at Nowlan Park, Wexford tore into the Cats from the off.
Deploying Shaun Murphy very effectively as a sweeper, they posted a winning score of 2-18, with their goals arriving from David Dunne, and the game-clincher from Mark Fanning in the 71st minute.
In also seeing off Limerick, Galway, Kerry, Offaly and Laois in the league, Wexford have had big contributions from the likes of Dunne, Liam Ryan, Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Lee Chin, and McDonald.
Tipperary have not won a league title for nine years, so Wexford can expect to come up against keenly motivated opponents.
Michael Ryan’s men went about their work in reaching this stage with little fuss. After wins against Dublin, Waterford and Clare, they drew a cracker with Kilkenny before losing to Cork.
In their quarter-final assignment, they had little trouble in disposing of Offaly. Their potency was ably demonstrated by the 4-28 racked up, with their talismanic attacker Seamus Callanan contributing 2-11.
Wexford are sizeable underdogs and will have difficulty containing Callanan as well as Niall O’Meara, Dan McCormack and John O’Dwyer.
The starting point in looking for a winner in the meeting of Galway and Limerick is obviously their clash on March 26.
That day, inspired by the twin threat of David Burke and Joe Canning, the Tribesmen fought back in the second half to overcome the Treaty men by three points.
Both teams will have taken heart from how they performed in a game in which Burke, in particular, was the difference with a monumental shift at midfield.
Galway also displayed composure and tenacity to claw back a 10-point deficit in their quarter-final joust with Waterford.
There is abundant quality within the Galway ranks with not only players like Burke and Canning, but others such as Cathal Mannion, Jason Flynn, Padraig Brehony and Johnny Coen.
After losing to Wexford back in February, Galway may not have thought they would be on the cusp of a league final. They will surely relish the chance to make the final as they build up to the championship.
Limerick came through a tight affair against Cork to reach the last four, eventually winning by just two points
Their joint managers John Kiely and Micheal Donoghue have used a lot of players so far this season, and can look to this game and indeed the championship season top come with a fair degree of confidence.
In Diarmaid Byrnes, they have a reliable dead ball striker, and in Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, John Fitzgibbon, Seamus Hickey and Shane Dowling they possess a clutch of talented and reliable players.
Both of these teams will see this as an ideal chance to reach a national final, and claim a shot at major honours.
The feeling is though that Galway, further along in their development as they are, will be too strong for the Munster men.