14 November 2020 14:38
In the absence of the round-robin series in Leinster and Munster, it should satisfy purists of the ancient game as they pine for something to ignite this out-of-kilter championship. Away from the action, much talk has focussed on the yellow sliotar, the increasing scoring-rate in games and whether hurling needs a sin-bin or a black card. Two provincial finals and two qualifier battles will be played out across a weekend where the weather, yet again, may prove to be a spoilsport. Eight teams will become six when the dust has settled, with only five more games to be played before Liam MacCarthy is handed out on the second Sunday in December. Less games allows for a bit more breathing space, so unlike 2018 and '19, the Leinster and Munster finals will be played on separate days.
Saturday evening at Croke Park will see the Bob O'Keeffe Cup, extra-time and penalty drama permitting, being handed over to the winning captain at around 8pm. In the last-chance saloon corner, Clare's clash with Wexford and the meeting of old rivals Cork and Tipperary adds greatly to the pot of intrigue that could be played out on Saturday afternoon. The quartet have all a lost a game, with Clare and Cork reigniting their seasons with wins over Laois and Dublin respectively last weekend. "We were absolutely terrible" Davy Fizgerald doesn't hold back as he assesses Wexford's loss to Galway in the Leinster SHC #RTEGAA #SundayGame pic.twitter.com/jlv0tIIi8u — The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) October 31, 2020 Wexford, in the words of manager Davy Fitzgerald "showed no guts, no fight and no character" in their Leinster semi-final loss to Galway. Questions abound as to whether the Yellowbellies were over-trained, given that Fitzgerald would have had access to most of his players since the end of August following the conclusion of the Wexford club hurling championship.
Liam Sheedy was also scathing as he watched the All-Ireland champions offer little resistance against Limerick in the Munster semi, highlighting Tipp's "basic errors" and a lack of energy in the defeat. Remember, Tipp recovered from a bit of a spanking from Limerick in the Munster final to win the big prize last year. Waterford dethroning Limerick in Sunday's Munster showdown could be be viewed as a surprise given the Déise's poor championship return in the last two seasons. In this year of years, Galway, Kilkenny and Waterford could land the All-Ireland by winning four matches. Tipperary played eight times to win the big prize last year. Only four times since 1998 (introduction of back-door) has a team who has lost a provincial final gone on to win an All-Ireland. Galway, only winning one title since 1988, is a scant return on the back of many successful underage teams. Watch Galway v Kilkenny in the Leinster SHC final this on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 5.45pm. Limerick v Waterford in the Munster SHC final on Sunday (4pm throw-in) live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player. Live commentary on both games on RTÉ Radio's Saturday Sport and Sunday Sport. Highlights of all the weekend's GAA action on The Sunday Game from 9.30pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player. Clare and Wexford clash in an All-Ireland Hurling Championship qualifier this weekend as Davy Fitzgerald goes up against his native county. Clare defeated Laois last weekend, while Wexford got a bye into this round after losing to Galway in Leinster.