Hurling preview: Who can keep their Liam McCarthy run up?
All-Ireland SHC Quarter finals Dublin v Waterford, Semple Stadium, Thurles, 2.0. Sunday, July 26 ET if required Live on RTE 2.
This is only the fourth ever championship clash between the counties which reflects the fact that they both struggled for decades to make an impact in their respective provincial championships.
Two of their previous meetings were in All-Ireland deciders. When Dublin last won the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 1938 they defeated Dublin in the final. A decade later when Waterford won the first of their two All-Ireland titles they beat Dublin in the decider.
Their only meeting in modern times came in in 2005 when the Deise hammered Dublin (4-17; 1-3) in a qualifier match. However, they teams clashed in a Division 1A relegation tie just over a year ago when Dublin prevailed.
This is Dublin’s third knock out match in the series having already accounted for Laois and Limerick whereas this is the first time that Waterford has faced a ‘winner take all’ contest in the 2015 championship.
Ger Cunningham’s side showed admirable resilience in eking out a one point win over Limerick in the last round having trailed by eight points early in the second quarter. After a shaky start back at centre back, Liam Rushe was outstanding at the business end of the contest when he filled the role of sweeper.
But it was the finishing of Paul Ryan that ultimately rescued Dublin. He will need to be at his best again against Waterford’s massed defence. The outcome could hinge on whether Dublin can score regularly from long range. They need bigger scoring contributions from Mark Schutte and in particular Danny Sutcliffe, who has been well below his best this summer.
This is an interesting test for Waterford. Tipperary brought their 15 match 2015 unbeaten record to a halt in the Munster final and a few days later their U-21 side suffered a shock loss to Clare in the provincial semi-final. Much will depend on how the players react to those twin blows.
Interestingly Clare negated the influence of sweeper Tadgh De Burca, who has been outstanding for the senior team, by ‘marking’ him so it will be interesting to see what plan Ger Cunningham comes up deal with Waterford’s massed defence.
Goals are likely to be scarce today but if Waterford have recovered their mojo after their Munster final loss they are capable of reaching the last four for the first since 2011.
Cork v Galway, Semple Stadium
Thurles, 4.0, Sunday, July 26 ET if required Live on RTE 2
Even though Galway has only beaten Cork in seven of their 32 previous championship clashes they have triumphed over them in their last three Liam MacCarthy encounters. The Tribesmen beat the Rebels in the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final as well as qualifier matches in 2011 and 2009.
Against that Galway have a woeful record both in All-Ireland quarter-finals and in knock out matches in Semple Stadium. On Sunday they are bidding to avoid their seventh consecutive defeat at a venue which is regarded as the spiritual home of hurling.
As far as the Galway fans are concerned Semple Stadium is a graveyard. Apart from a qualifier win over Cork in 2009 and a League final over the same opposition a year later the Tribesmen have nothing to show for their numerous trips to Tipp.
Equally worrying from a Galway perspective is their record in All-Ireland quarter finals – they have only managed to win three (2000, 2001 and 2005) – and one of those victories was achieved against Derry – while they have lost ten quarter finals. Cork have played in fewer quarter finals (9) but won more (7).
Still, it’s what happens between four and six o’clock on Sunday which will determine the outcome rather than any historical baggage.
Cork turned their season around against Wexford in the qualifiers when team boss Jimmy Barry Murphy was finally persuaded to go with a tactical formation. This involved playing Mark Ellis as a sweeper, using Brian Lawton as a centre back and dropping Bill Cooper into midfield.
The reshuffle means that Cork operates a two man full forward of Seamus Harnedy and Conor Lehane with Patrick Horgan proving much more effective away from his customary corner forward position.
Galway promised more than they delivered against Kilkenny in the Leinster final and as a unit their attack completely malfunctioned.
With Ellis proving a most effective sweeper against both Wexford and Clare Galway will be tempted to move Joe Canning from full forward in order for him to escape being double teamed.
Canning needs more support from his colleagues particularly Cathal Mannion who failed to make an impact against Kilkenny after scoring three goals in the replay rout of Dublin. But Cyril Donnellan and Jonathan Glynn have the physical strength to test the Cork rearguard.
So far in the championship Cork has only managed three goals which suggests they’re weak in this department. The Galway forwards have more goal scoring potential hitting 11 goals in their four games to date.
At their best these two teams have the capacity to upset the two big guns, Kilkenny and Tipp in the latter stages of the All-Ireland series. But first they have to reach the last four. It ought to be a fascinating encounter; perhaps Cork may just shade it.