The Leinster Senior Hurling Semi Finals take place this weekend, with two mouth watering ties in store for hurling fans. First up on Saturday at 15.45 is Kilkenny vs Dublin.
The Cats begin their championship campaign looking to avenge last year’s bitterly disappointing All Ireland Final defeat to Tipperary. Brian Cody’s men will start the game on Saturday as firm favourites to advance to the decider on November 14th. In a long and hugely successful tenure, Kilkenny boss Cody had probably thought that he had seen everything the sport has to offer, but for the first time in his near 22 years in charge of the team, no supporters will be allowed into Croke Park for Saturday’s game due to COVID restrictions in place.
T.J. Reid will once again be Kilkenny’s talisman and his presence on the pitch means Dublin firmly in the underdog status for this weekend’s encounter. Cody will believe if Kilkenny can maintain the same performance level as they reached in last years famous All Ireland semi- final victory over Limerick for the duration of this year’s championship, that Kilkenny’s first All-Ireland title since 2015 can be delivered in December.
Dublin go into the game on the back of an impressive victory over Laois in last weeks quarter final. Mattie Kenny will be hoping that Dublin can improve on last years third place finish in the round robin phase and make their first final appearance since 2014. Kenny’s troops will feel as though last weeks win over Laois and a game under their belt will give them a match sharpness from the start that Kilkenny may not have once the ball is thrown in.
Having underperformed for the last half of the decade, Dublin will want to begin this one by making a statement and defeating one of hurling’s traditional powerhouses on Saturday. However, Kilkenny will be massively disappointed with anything other than a win on Saturday and should have enough to make next month’s final.
You can catch the game live on KCLR Saturday Scoreline from 3.45pm with thanks to Larharts the home of Volkswagen and Skoda in Kilkenny
Verdict: Kilkenny win
The second part of Saturday’s double header will be a repeat of the 2017 final when Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford begin the defence of their crown against a Galway side manged by Shane O’Neill for the first time.
Both sides come into this year’s championship on the back of disappointing exits from last year’s championship. Wexford were minutes away from a first All-Ireland final appearance since 1996 only to be hauled back and eventually defeated by 14-man Tipperary. Fitzgerald will feel that Wexford will be able to repeat last years feat of winning the Leinster championship and improving on their showing in the All Ireland series.
It remains to be seen whether or not Wexford missed their chance at the Liam McCarthy Cup last year or if they are good enough to go again. Anything less than at least another All-Ireland semi-final appearance may spell the end of the Clare man’s time in charge. Saturday’s game may go a long way in seeing if the Yellowbellies can repeat or improve on last season’s feat.
Galway enter the semi final stage under Shane O’Neil desperate to regain the Leinster crown they lost last year following a fourth placed finish in the round robin phase. The former Na Piarsaigh manager’s introduction to inter county hurling will have come later than expected but never the less he will feel as though he is the fresh voice needed to help Galway hit the heights of their 2017 All-Ireland winning campaign.
Portumna man Joe Canning will once again begin the campaign as Galway’s go to man and much like Reid for Kilkenny, the fact that he is on the pitch gives Galway a scoring firepower and leadership that their opponent’s may struggle to match. The Tribesmen have their eyes firmly set on an All-Ireland victory and Saturday may well be the beginning of their journey back to the top.
Verdict: Galway win