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Waterford can halt the resurgence of Cork's hurlers in Munster semi-final

24/7/2016 Galways joe canning celebrates scoring a goal in yesterdays quarter final all ireland hurling game against Clare at Semple Stadium pic seamus loughran
Padraig Kelly

SATURDAY

Leinster Senior Football Championship semi-final

Kildare v Meath (O’Connor Park, 7pm)

KILDARE have resisted the urge to make any changes to the side that hammered Laois by 14 points in the quarter-final. Neil Flynn could make an appearance from the bench though after recovering from a hamstring problem. Meath, likewise, have stuck with the team that defeated Louth last time out, but Brian Power is still absent. Both these sides are in good form at present, but the Lilywhites just might have too much up front in what is expected to be a brilliant encounter.

Odds: Kildare: 10/11 D: 15/2 Meath: 6/5

Verdict: Kildare

Leinster Senior Football Championship quarter-final replay

Westmeath v Offaly (TEG Cusack Park, 2pm)

WESTMEATH took advantage of Offaly’s two late red cards to snatch a draw last week in a game that left a lot to be desired. The Faithful county have made one change with Conor McNamee coming in for the injured Eoin Carroll. Tom Cribbin’s side should make use of home advantage to set up a clash with Dublin, but if the standard is anything like last week, that may not be such a good thing.

Odds: Westmeath: 4/7 D: 8/1 Offaly: 15/8

Verdict: Westmeath

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifying Round 1A

Louth v Longford (Gaelic Grounds, 5pm)

LOUTH may be favourites but they’re facing Qualifier specialists Longford, and an away win is very much on the cards here. Colin Kelly has had some good injury news though with Andy McDonnell returning from injury having missed the win over Wicklow and the loss to Meath. Denis Connerton’s side conceded four goals against Laois but they will have worked hard on tightening up their defence for this clash. If that work has proved fruitful, they could advance to the next round.

Odds: Louth: 8/11 D 15/2: Longford: 6/4

Verdict: Longford

Wicklow v Laois (Aughrim, 5pm)

LAOIS trio Kieran Lillis, Stephen Attride and Mark Timmons have been passed fit and have been included in Peter Creedon’s side. Wicklow boss Johnny Magee has brought Anthony McLoughlin and Rory Finn into the team that lost to Louth. This is expected to be a comfortable away win, but Wicklow have caused panic in the Qualifiers over the years – and they can push the visitors hard here.

Odds: Wicklow: 11/2 D: 14/1 Laois: 1/7

Verdict: Laois

SUNDAY

Connacht Senior Football Championship semi-final

Roscommon v Leitrim (Dr Hyde Park, 3.30pm)

LEITRIM manager Brendan Guckian has said that all the pressure is on Roscommon, and he is completely right. Home advantage and the fact that Galway rather than Mayo await in the final should really focus the Rossie minds. Leitrim have kept faith with the same team that left London with an impressive win.

Odds: Roscommon: 1/14 D: 20/1 Leitrim: 15/2

Verdict: Roscommon

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final

Galway v Offaly (O’Moore Park, 2pm)

THE 1/100 odds on a Galway win speaks volumes and the Tribesmen should canter into a final meeting with Wexford. That said, Offaly did give them a fair test at the same stage last year and actually led by a point at the break despite losing Colin Egan to a red card. Galway responded well in the second half and 10 points separated the sides at the end. It would be surprising if the margin of victory wasn’t around the same tally tomorrow.

Odds: Galway: 1/100 D: 40/1 Offaly: 14/1

Verdict: Galway

Munster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final

Cork v Waterford (Semple Stadium, 4pm)

SINCE the turn of the millennium, you’d do well to find a more balanced GAA rivalry than Cork and Waterford in Munster. Their 15 encounters in that time have included three draws, six Waterford wins and six Cork wins.

All but one of those games was in the balance right until the final stages, Cork’s 14-point Munster quarter-final replay win in 2014 sticking out like a sore thumb.

It’s no surprise then, that the outcome of this encounter remains disputed. A few weeks ago, a win for Derek McGrath’s side would have been as easy pick, but one win can drastically change the landscape, and that’s the case for Cork following their stunning win over All-Ireland champions Tipperary in the quarter-final.

Kieran Kingston’s men were sublime at times in the 2-27 to 1-26 victory with Conor Lehane and debutant Shane Kingston excelling. The result has totally changed the mood in the Rebel county, but in recent times they have had a habit of following up a top performance with a dud.

Lehane has since emerged as a major injury doubt after suffering an ankle injury in training, but the suggestions are that he will able to take his spot in the half-forward line.

The main question mark for Waterford will be how they respond to their long break from competitive action.

They are the last team to enter the Championship and their last game was all the way back on April 2 when an experimental team lost out to Galway in the League quarter-final.

McGrath has really brought the side on over the last three years, and anticipation is growing that they could go even further than the last two years, when they reached the All-Ireland semi-finals.

That’s down to the fact that the top two, Tipp and Kilkenny, have already been banished to the Qualifiers, clearing the road for a team like Waterford to make hay.

They must walk before they can run though, and it’s worth remembering that they are yet to win a provincial title under McGrath despite reaching the last two finals.

The spotlight is firmly on them given that other big-hitters have already stumbled, and the onus is on them to respond with a professional performance in Thurles.

Cork may be on a high at the moment, but Waterford can lay down a significant marker and set up a Munster final clash with Clare.

Odds: Cork: 13/8 D: 10/1 Waterford: 8/13

Verdict: Waterford

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