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Calling the shots: All-Ireland previews

By Declan Bogue

ALL-IRELAND HURLING SEMI-FINAL

GALWAY v CLARE

(Today, Croke Park, 5pm)

THERE is a sense that Galway have timed an All-Ireland defence meticulously.

Slipping to the odd defeat during the league helped create something of an impression and their slow start might have caused some alarm, but there has been a lot of choosing your battles to their approach this year.

An flawless round-robin series in Leinster was only enhanced, not detracted from, by the fact it took two games to get over Kilkenny. For some time now Galway have bossed that relationship but to do it on purely physical terms and with little tactical embellishment was an enormous statement as to where they are as a team now.

Clare will be putting up a game front, but their shortcomings are there to be seen. If Galway drop a sweeper back, who would most likely be Gearoid McInerney, then they can go a long way to neutering the speedy Banner attack.

After that, it will be a matter of the champions pushing hard on the Clare puckout and forcing them to go long. If John Conlon is withdrawn to compete for these around the middle, then Clare’s goal threat is weakened further.

Galway to win, and their physical supremacy to make the difference.

VERDICT: Galway

ALL-IRELAND HURLING SEMI-FINAL

CORK v LIMERICK

(Tomorrow, Croke Park, 3.30pm)

DON’T go looking for a repeat of that balmy Saturday evening down at Pairc Uí Chaoimh when these two gave us a total of 54 scores and one of the most memorable games of hurling in a Championship chock-full of them.

However, this game would appear to have shock written all over it.

While Cork are Munster champions, they are level with Limerick in betting for the All-Ireland Championship at 4/1.

Limerick’s non-performance against Clare can be taken as a bit of an anomaly. While nine points separated them at the end of that Munster round-robin fixture, it should be pointed out that it was the Treatymen’s third week out in succession.

This is Limerick’s to lose and they will book their place in the final for the first time since 1973.

VERDICT: Limerick

ALL-IRELAND MINOR FOOTBALL QUARTER-FINAL

DERRY v MEATH

(Today, Athletic Grounds, 3pm)

The Oak Leaf minors have been lucky enough to get Leinster champions Meath in Armagh city’s Athletic Grounds for this All-Ireland quarter-final.

Sure, it’s only a pitch at the end of the day, but this would represent Derry’s fifth game at the venue since the start of the year.

The word is that Meath have been doing strength and conditioning work three nights a week since October and anyone that caught them playing a friendly against Tyrone in Garvaghey a few months back will have been struck by the scale of their operation.

Their ambition just might match it.

VERDICT: Meath

ALL-IRELAND MINOR FOOTBALL QUARTER-FINAL

MONAGHAN v KILDARE

(Today, Mullingar, 3pm)

Ulster champions Monaghan meet Leinster finalists Kildare, who were well handled in that decider by Meath.

Monaghan manager Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney has done everything right with this group in 2018, but he was highlighting Kildare’s “awesome” attack in midweek as a measure of tempering enthusiasm.

VERDICT: Monaghan

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