Tipperary can bounce back from opening loss
Champs Galway liekly to concentrate against Laois
Tipperary and Waterford lost their opening ties as both management teams elected to field experimental outfits, focusing on building a panel for later in the year.
Tipperary started with just five of the team who lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Galway as Michael Ryan handed debuts to a number of young talents and Cathal Barrett returned to the fold.
Barrett started in an experimental midfield pairing with established centre-back Ronan Maher, but Tipperary struggled to secure clean position around the middle third, and Clare’s half-forward line dominated.
Ronan Maher returns to join Padraic Maher in a strong half-back line that should shore up a Tipperary defence who conceded 1-21 to Clare. John McGrath, Brendan Maher, Dan McCormack and Michael Breen all return to the starting team, with Brendan Maher alongside Barrett in midfield.
Barrett was impressive in his new role, and following his omission from the panel last year, he will be crucial to their success this season. Michael Ryan likes to experiment with his sides throughout the league, but home victories are crucial if they are to make the knockout stages.
All-Ireland finalists Waterford opened their league campaign with a disappointing seven-point loss at home to Wexford, with manager Derek McGrath unusually making no substitutions.
While Waterford made huge strides in 2017, their league performances left a lot to be desired, as they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Galway after looking assured of victory.
Like Michael Ryan, McGrath is likely to experiment with his squad throughout the league campaign, and an early trip to Semple Stadium looks an unassailable task.
Home victories are crucial in the Division 1A, so expect Tipperary to start strongly and put Waterford to the sword.
All-Ireland champions Galway narrowly avoided a humbling defeat at home to Antrim as the Saffrons led with just seven minutes remaining before a late surge carried Galway to a three-point victory.
Galway won’t have lost much sleep over that result, but they will be keen to push on with a improved performance against Laois.
Laois will have been pleased to have finished within ten points of Limerick, but they are facing a Galway team reeling from a close-call.
While Galway will need to concentrate, a 12-point handicap looks generous and they should be capable of covering it.
2pts Evs general
2pts 10-11 general
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