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Hurling Preview – Clash of the Capitals Part 2

cdOn Sunday the first of the All Ireland Senior hurling Semi-finals takes place with Cork and Dublin locking horns for a place in the final.

Dublin enter the game as Leinster Champions and Cork have got here via the back door/quarter-final after losing to Limerick in the Munster final. Having lost to Limerick a lot of pundits wrote off the rebels to progress any further having drawn Kilkenny, but they showed massive maturity and composure to dispose of the All-Ireland champions. In truth the sending off of star forward Pat Horgan against Limerick had a big impact on the outcome and to Cork’s credit they stuck with extra man Limerick for the majority of the game. Cork have not been given the plaudits their performances deserve and will now have a belief in the squad that they can go all the way. Jimmy Barry Murphy has done wonders with this young bunch of players, not only installing a stellar belief and hunger but also transforming the way they play. The players have bought into every aspect of his ways and from Anthony Nash in goal through to Luke O’Farrell at corner forward , they possess tireless hurlers who want to work and hurl in the right manner.

What was most impressive against Kilkenny was that they never panicked and showed intelligence in every aspect of their game to overcome the cats. They now must adapt to the atmospheric pressure of Croke Park and the speed and aggression that Dublin will bring. For them to be victorious every player must play to potential with Nash in goal, O’Neill in the Full back line, Tom Kenny, Pa Cronin and Patrick Horgan leading from the front not letting Dublin get a foothold in the game. These mentioned players are the players the rest rally around and in a semi-final in the HQ Cork will need these guys to stand tall. Their bench looks particular weak with only the fit again defender Brian Murphy notably of coming into the game and making an impact when the need comes deep in the second half. A better performance to that displayed against Kilkenny a few weeks ago will be required to march on this Sunday.

As for Dublin after their fantastic provincial victory expectation has now upped for Anthony Daly and his team. Daly won’t mind this, as he knows as well as anyone that with success comes expectation. Their challenge is now to feed and fulfil this expectation and after a month break they will be ready and raring to go come Sunday. What has impressed me most about Dublin has been their progress as a team as the campaign has moved along. They showed a real maturity to overcome Kilkenny in a replay having let the first game slip and improved considerably again to easily dispose of Galway then. Daly will demand improvement again from his players and a good start will be vital to their progression. The development of Conal Keaney, Paul Ryan, David O’Callaghan and Joey Boland has been tremendous with Liam Rushe fulfilling his potential as one of the fine modern day centre backs. Rushe has been key to their success thus far and again they will look to these players in much the same way as Cork to their leaders. Dublin play a high-tempo game similar to Cork with pressure on the man with the ball the focal point of their game. They possess a solid back six who manufacture the ball upfield to their forwards with no hail-mary passes, when they have the ball they use it wisely. Dublin has played in Croke Park this year already, which will be an advantage, and if they can get on top on Cork early will use the crowd to power home. Two similar style teams with the wise old head of JBM up against the hungry determined Daly, it promises to be a tense tight game with the small margins deciding it come the final whistle. However much like last week’s football battle , I’m going with Dublin to advance but not without bruises and it could be the minimum that separates them come the final whistle.

Verdict – Dublin

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