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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Tipperary and Galway ready to book their final tickets

Wexford win streak set to end

Joe Canning's Galway look too short at 4-11 to top Division 1B
1 of 1

Limerick v Galway
Premier Sports, 2pm Sunday
Tipperary v Wexford
Premier Sports, 4pm Sunday

Wexford have been the surprise package of the spring, upsetting Limerick, Galway and Kilkenny on their way to reaching the NHL Division 1 semi-final, but their winning streak looks set to end against Tipperary.

There are numerous reasons for Wexford's upturn in fortunes. The Davy Fitzgerald effect is number one. His drive, desire and passion was just what Wexford needed after a few decades in the doldrums.

The decision to deploy Shaun Murphy in the sweeper role has worked wonders and Lee Chin is at the peak of his powers. Put all of that together and you get a side who are performing way above expectations.

But the main thing that has got Wexford where they are is fitness. They have looked by far the fittest team over the last few months, a factor that was most evident in their quarter-final dismantling of Kilkenny.

They were able to hassle and harry the Cats for the full 70 minutes and their forward press never relented. It was like hurling's equivalent to Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.

Wexford could pose Tipperary problems and they might stay in touch for the opening hour but the All-Ireland champions ought to pull away in the closing ten minutes.

Michael Ryan has named a full-strength side for the last-four encounter and it is hard to see how Wexford will cope with John McGrath, who has arguably been the best player on show this year, and Seamus Callanan, who is probably the most naturally gifted hurler around.

Tipperary are going to be the toughest of nuts to crack in 2017, be it league or championship, and they are fancied to advance by four, five or six points.

Wexford won't want to take a battering and their fitness edge and renewed confidence should ensure that doesn't happen. They might not be able to get within three points of the champions but a double-figure hammering looks unlikely.

Limerick and Galway, the sides below Wexford in the Division 1B table, meet in the other semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds and the Tribesmen can repeat their group-stage success.

Galway are the team Tipperary should fear the most. They have met in the last two All-Ireland semi-finals with Galway winning by the minimum margin in 2015 and Tipperary doing likewise last year.

Michael Donoghue has brought this Galway team to a new level and the decision to bring Johnny Glynn back into the fold looks a shrewd move. His strength and power should complement the pace and guile of most of the Galway forward line and it could be the final piece of the jigsaw.

But, as ever with Galway, it will be the form of Joe Canning that will decides their fate in 2017. He seems to be in terrific shape and his game looked as good as ever in the win over Waterford. He scored 1-10 and was the catalyst for his side's second-half comeback.

Canning will be by far the most talented player on the pitch and with his confidence sky high and fitness good, he looks overpriced at 5-1 to pick up the man-of-the-match accolade.

The likelihood is that he will score at least eight points, if not ten or 12, and that sort of performance could be good enough.

He has tormented Limerick in the past and the stage is set for him to do so again as the Treaty County don't appear to have the personnel to curb his influence on proceedings.

Tipperary to win by four, five or six points
1pt 4-1 Paddy Power
Joe Canning man of the match in Galway v Limerick
1pt 5-1 Paddy Power 

Wexford won't want to take a battering and their fitness edge and renewed confidence should ensure that doesn't happen
E.W. Terms
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