IF THIS year’s McGrath cup has taught us nothing else, it is that there is a lot to be said for momentum. Both Cork and Waterford built on their preliminary round victories in the competition, while IT Tralee and UCC – two sides that had a full programme of college league games behind them – turned out to be far too strong for Kerry and Limerick.
It’s on that basis that we’re hugely wary of punting Limerick at guide odds of 4/6 for their home tie against Waterford this Sunday afternoon in Kilmallock. Aside from the fact that the host club’s players will be unavailable for selection, Waterford surprised a lot of people with a very strong performance against LIT last Sunday and afterwards manager Derek McGrath expressed his view that while a lot of his players were still rusty, the team he would put on the field this Sunday would certainly be going all out to secure a win.
We certainly can’t say the same thing with any confidence when it comes to Limerick. Both managers will be acutely aware that an upcoming NHL tie in a little over a month will be of far greater consequence to both teams so some element of shadow boxing is eminently likely. That’s not the type of environment where punting at an estimated price of 4/6, or indeed any odds on number, is a good idea.
Instead, Powers have given the Limerick Post a guide price of 9/4 about a treble on Cork, Tipperary and UCC winning in the other three quarter finals and that looks like a far more viable proposition. Cork are clearly quite advanced in their training based on their solid performance against a decent UL side and they certainly should have far too much for CIT on that basis, while an improving Kerry side still have an awful lot to find on UCC, who are the clear favourites for the Fitzgibbon Cup right now.
The tricky selection was Tipperary against Clare, two sides who have performed extremely well in this competition in the last few years, contesting the last three Waterford Crystal Finals. However Tipp are coming in on the back of a scrappy win over Mary I and another challenge match win over Wexford and while that’s not the type of form to light up the stage by any means, it still suggests that they’ve done some hurling and are ready to hit the ground running.
No county side has more players involved with college teams than Clare under Davie Fitzgerald, while their manager is also pre-occupied with his LIT duties at this time of year. This should be a good encounter and well worth taking in for anyone convenient to the Sixmilebridge venue, but if there is one team with an edge, it’s the Tipp men.
by Kevin Egan, of PaddyPower