Limerick look great value to continue winning spree
Best bets for the Division 1 quarter-finals
Limerick v Clare
Gaelic Grounds, 4pm Sunday
Limerick fought back impressively from an eight-point half-time deficit to All-Ireland champions Galway last week to secure promotion to Division 1A, and they can be a real threat to Clare at the Gaelic Grounds.
With their NaPiarsaigh contingent still unavailable, Limerick struggled early on and hit 11 wides before half-time. After the break however, a completely different team emerged. Their young full forward line led the charge as Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan and man-of-the-match Barry Murphy finished with 1-12 between them.
Clare slipped to their second defeat on the bounce, having lost by three points in Waterford, after leading by six points inside the first quarter. Clare were out of the blocks early in the league, winning their first three outings against Tipperary, Kilkenny and Cork, but their fast start may have caught up with them as many of their leading lights have played a lot of games already.
Many of their key figures were also part of the University of Limerick team who won the Fitzgibbon Cup in February. Limerick seem to be hitting form at the right time, and the benefits of an easier run in Division 1B could be key.
Expect this to be a close match with Limerick edging it on home soil.
1pt 8-11 general
Draw or either team to win by fewer than four points
2pts 8-11 Ladbrokes
Offaly v Kilkenny
O’Connor Park, 1pm Sunday
Kilkenny struggled through the early league games but three wins on the bounce, helped by the return of TJ Reid, secured qualification and trip to Offaly in the quarter-finals.
Reid fired 12 points last weekend in a three-point win over Wexford and Kilkenny’s scoring record since his return has been impressive, averaging more than 24 points in their last three outings.
Offaly shocked Dublin with an opening-round win at Croke Park, but they have struggled since, recording just one victory, over bottom side Laois in round four.
This should be a straightforward task for Brian Cody’s men, but Offaly will be keen to put in a big performance at home and they can stay within ten points of Kilkenny.
1pt 10-11 general
Wexford v Galway
Innovate Wexford Park, 2pm Sunday
All-Ireland champions Galway ambled through the league, winning the first four rounds in less than impressive fashion, as many of their stars delayed their comeback to first-team duty.
They looked to have secured promotion, holding an eight-point half-time lead over Limerick, but a massive fightback delayed their return to 1A for a another year at least.
Micheal Donoghue won’t be worried about another year in 1B, but the manner of their defeat last week will surely be playing on his mind.
Wexford have been solid throughout their league run, winning three from five and falling to two narrow losses.
They reached their first Leinster final since 2008 last year, where they suffered a nine-point loss to Galway, but they will have learned plenty from that and welcoming the All-Ireland champions to Wexford Park provides a massive chance for Davy’s men to lay down a marker for 2018.
Galway are deservedly one-point favourites but take a chance on Wexford to make their presence felt.
1pt 4-5 Hills
Dublin v Tipperary
Parnell Park, 3pm Sunday
Pat Gilroy’s Dublin side have struggled in Division 1B this year with just two wins, over Antrim and Laois, and they will have to improve to have any chance against a Tipperary side who finished top of Division 1A.
Tipperary recovered from an opening-round loss to Clare with three wins in their other four outings. Jason Forde returned from college hurling duty last week as he hit 12 points in their three-point win over Cork, and he has been the star man for Michael Ryan’s charges throughout 2018.
Tipperary’s scoring record in the league has been phenomenal, with an average of 26.75 points scored in their last four outings, despite hitting twenty wides against Cork seven days ago. While Cork but pressure on Tipperary throughout, this should be a much more straightforward task.
Tipperary were disappointing by their standards in 2017, but they’ve been in top-class form this year, even without the services of 2016 All Star Seamus Callanan. They should past this test with ease and secure their place in the semi-final.
Tipperary over 27.5 points
2pts Evs Paddy Power
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