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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Limerick can stake their claim as All-Ireland contenders by rocking Rebels

Galway worth supporting at Wexford

Limerick's Kyle Hayes took a break from hurling over the winter to recuperate from injury
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Cork v Limerick
Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 7pm Saturday

Round three of a fascinating Munster round-robin series takes place at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday evening with Limerick making the trip to the banks of the Lee to face a Cork side who coughed up a nine-point half-time lead over Tipperary last Sunday.

Although they scraped a draw from that encounter, and top the table with three points from two games, John Meyler will have to be slightly concerned with the manner of their second-half performance.

Cork dominated Tipperary early in that encounter and their diagonal balls to their full-forward line were virtually unstoppable.

Their full-forward line hit 1-12 from play and Patrick Horgan added three points from placed balls. Tipperary were abysmal in the first half but they came out a different team in the second and Cork struggled to contain them.

This young Limerick side brought intensity to their encounter with Tipperary, and a repeat of that could see them go close.

Limerick were great value for their six-point win over Tipperary in round one and the margin could have been bigger but for some wayward Limerick shooting. A weekend off since will have given John Kiely’s side time to work on their shooting but their use of the ball, moving it through the lines, was impressive.

Cian Lynch’s move to midfield has made a huge difference to this Limerick side as he constantly provides an out ball to the defenders. Their half-back line completely dominated Tipperary and the short passing style around midfield seems to suit this Limerick side.

The inside forward line of Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan and Graeme Mulcahy hit seven points from play between them, Gillane adding a further six from frees, many of which would have been scores from play were he not fouled. They look a constant danger and this will be an area they will target.

One of the key battles will be the Limerick full-back line up against the Cork full forwards. The Cork line hit 1-12 from play against Tipperary and Limerick looked slightly vulnerable at times, with Seamus Hickey in particular giving away too many frees.

Na Piarsaigh’s Mike Casey, who kept Con O’Callaghan quiet in the club All-Ireland final, comes in at three to shore up the full-back line.

If Limerick can do this, it will confirm that they are a real force in this championship. Their young side will have no fears going to visit a Cork side who may be struggling as they enter their third game in as many weeks.

Recommendations
Limerick
3pts 6-4 general
Limerick-Limerick double result
1pt 3-1 Paddy Power


Wexford v Galway
Innovate Wexford Park, 5pm Saturday

All-Ireland champions Galway passed their first real test of 2018 with flying colours last Sunday, as they easily dismissed Kilkenny in their first home game in the Leinster Championship.

This Galway team seem to have picked up where they left off last season and it’s clear that their disappointing league run can be put down to them having a longer break than most teams over the winter.

They beat Kilkenny all over the field last weekend and, although they took their time in finishing them off, the result never looked in doubt.

Joe Canning hit 1-12 for Galway and, although Conor Whelan didn’t get on the scoresheet. he was a constant danger and his size and athleticism make him one of the top forwards in the country.

Against Kilkenny, three points on the bounce from Conor Cooney around the 65th minute sealed victory, and they can kick on from that this week.

Wexford were the late starters in Leinster but since then have won two from two and are top of the table with a scoring difference advantage over Saturday's rivals.

They faced a tough challenge from Dublin in their opening round and, although they were pushed close, they prevailed and were facile winners over a poor Offaly outfit last weekend.

Although Davy Fitzgerald won’t have learned anything in that victory, the manner in which they dismissed Offaly was pleasing and will have given them a nice preparation for this clash with Galway. This will be a completely different proposition though.

When these sides met in the league quarter-final Wexford were primed and ran out three-point winners but they face a different Galway side this time.

Wexford will surely attempt to turn this into a dogfight but they may come out the wrong side of that against an extremely physical Galway side.

Recommendation
Galway -3
2pts 5-6 general


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Cian Lynch’s move to midfield has made a huge difference to this Limerick side
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