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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Goals on the menu for Galway who look set to issue statement of intent

Joe Canning (right) has excelled in the playmaking role for Galway
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Galway v Kilkenny
Pearse Stadium, 4pm Sunday

Galway play their first Leinster Championship game on home soil on Sunday, and their supporters will be expecting a win over a Kilkenny side who have struggled in the championship.

They just about overcame Dublin in round one thanks to a Liam Blanchfield goal, and Blanchfield was on hand again last week after Offaly got within three points to secure a nine-point victory. The Cats are in for a far greater challenge this weekend.

All-Ireland champions Galway started the defence of their crown with a routine 12-point win over Offaly and they had last weekend off to prepare for the visit of Kilkenny.

While the margin of victory was expected, the manner of it was much changed from 2017. Galway scored just two goals in the championship last year but they hit five against Offaly and there has been a change in the forwards’ mindset as they realise the importance of getting goals if they are to retain their crown.

With Tipperary struggling against Limerick last weekend, Galway already look like the team to beat in the race for Liam MacCarthy, and they can assert their dominance on the championship.

Galway -2
2pts 10-11 Hills
Over 1.5 Galway goals
1pt 4-5 Paddy Power

Clare v Waterford
Cusack Park, 3.30pm Sunday

All-Ireland finalists Waterford are the late starters in the Munster Championship and not only do they have to contend with games four weeks in the row, they enter the first round without the services of Austin Gleeson and Pauric Mahony.

Derek McGrath, already dealing with the loss of brothers Shane and Kieran Bennett, must now work with a depleted panel for the trip to Cusack Park to face a Clare side who pushed Cork to the wire last week.

Clare were within a point of the Rebels entering injury time, but a goal from Seamus Harnedy settled the encounter.

Although disappointed with the opening-round loss, there were signs of the Clare team of old with Tony Kelly hitting 1-2 and Shane O’Donnell a constant threat in the full-forward line.

The return to Cusack Park should suit Clare, who had two wins from two at home in the league.

O’Donnell and Conor McGrath had a huge amount of possession last week and if they can make better use of it this time, expect them to put the Waterford defence under pressure.

Clare -2
2pts 11-10 Paddy Power
Clare over 2.5 goals
1pt 5-2 Paddy Power

Tipperary v Cork
Semple Stadium, 2pm Sunday

Tipperary welcome Cork to Semple Stadium hoping to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Limerick. They were comprehensively beaten and perhaps flattered by the six-point margin, with Limerick hitting plenty of sloppy wides late on.

Michael Ryan will be hoping for an instant reaction from his side, and the return of many of his stars may spark one.

Seamus Callanan, Brendan Maher, Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher and Michael Cahill all return to the starting 15 with Ronan Maher returning to centre-back, but they will need to hit the ground running against a Cork side who kicked off their championship with a win over Clare.

Patrick Horgan, Conor Lehane and Seamus Harnedy led the Cork charge, hitting 2-14 between them, while Darragh Fitzgibbon scored three points from midfield in the perfect start for the Munster champions.

Although we have a new format in 2018, Cork dumped Tipperary out of the Munster Championship in the first round 12 months ago and there’s no doubt they will be full of confidence.

The key to the clash is how Tipperary react to their loss. Their defence looked in huge trouble against Limerick, and their task is no easier with the Cork forward line in red-hot form. They seemed to rely on frees up front with just five of their 14 points coming from play.

The return of some of their key players should kick Tipperary into gear and, on home soil, they can get their season back on track.

Tipperary -2
2pts 11-10 BoyleSports
Tipperary-Tipperary double result
1pt 11-8 Paddy Power

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With Tipperary struggling against Limerick last week, Galway already look the team to beat in the race for Liam MacCarthy
E.W. Terms
Sky bet