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Tommy Walsh's 5 things to watch out for in the weekend's hurling

Ahead of a seismic weekend of hurling action in the Munster and Leinster championships, Tommy Walsh talked us through some things we should be looking out for on Thursday's OTB AM.

The four semi-finals of both provincial hurling championships will be contested this weekend after Limerick and Dublin ousted Clare and Laois on the first day out.

Looking ahead to the games in question, Kilkenny legend Tommy Walsh deciphered the important points to keep in mind before a yellow sliotar is thrown in.

Tommy Walsh | Five things to watch out for this weekend

1. Cork need to get their priorities right

Years on from The Stepford Wives barb and his Kilkenny team's unforgettable battles with Cork, Tommy Walsh retains some reservations about the county's hurlers.

"Cork can do anything with the ball," he allowed, "and we often hear tales of what Conor Lehane does, what Patrick Horgan does, the Cadogans, you know.

"But you go back to the All-Ireland champions of the last few years and look at Tipperary last year. I was at one of their league games down in Thurles, a terrible, blustery day.

"Seamus Callanan was starting and at one point he chased his man 40, 50 yards for what looked a nothing ball. Nobody would have noticed if he hadn't done it. But he blocked him down and that was the sign for me that Tipperary would be serious in 2019."

Something he saw play out with Limerick and Galway in previous years, Walsh isn't sure Cork's priorities are just there.

"Players need to show what they're willing to do without the ball," he explained, "and that's needed on top of everything else to win an All-Ireland.

"There needs to be a day that we look at Cork and you say to yourself, 'Oh my God, did you see Horgan do that diving block! Did you see Lehane chasing back and hooking that fella!'

"It isn't all about doing beautiful things. It is about digging in and going for something that you never thought you could do.

"Them little things win big games and All-Irelands."

2. Limerick are hurling's New England Patriots

Tipperary may be the reigning All-Ireland champions, but Tommy Walsh has an inkling that Limerick may have what it takes to upset them this weekend.

Fresh from a conclusive victory against Clare last weekend, Walsh likened their no-nonsense approach to American football's dominant team of the last two decades, New England Patriots.

"Every match they play is an All-Ireland," he noted of John Kiely's adamant focus on the match to come.

"You see the New England Patriots over the last 20 years, look at their press conferences and it is all about the next game.

"Now, plenty of coaches and teams say that too, but they have lived up to it. Once they played a game on a Sunday, won it and it was straight onto the next one.

"This Limerick team seem to be similar enough and that should play in their favour."

3. So many fascinating match-ups in Tipperary vs Limerick

Although Limerick are a little bit depleted of their usual personnel at the back and Tipperary are only out for the first time in this year's championship, Tommy Walsh is excited about what lies ahead in the head-to-head battles.

"You could be seeing Seamus Callanan on Dan Morrissey," he suggested, "John McGrath on Declan Hannon.

"Ronan Maher, if he is in at full-back, could be on Aaron Gillane. Cathal Barrett, one of the toughest corner-backs in the country, probably up against Graeme Mulcahy.

"No matter where you look the field, there are huge match-ups. I can't wait to see those different duals."

4. Wexford may be just about ready to peak

Having improved year on year under Davy Fitzgerald, Wexford could have very easily taken the place of Tipperary in last year's All-Ireland final.

Four years after taking charge of the county's hurlers, Walsh reckons that Fitzgerald's side may be ready to take the next step.

"I think Wexford are coming into their peak years," he explained. "Davy Fitz knows these guys so well now, knows their best positions and what ticks their boxes.

"This is the peak of their careers and I think they'll be very hungry this weekend."

5. Kilkenny are coming! Can Dublin stop them?

Building on what he said about Kilkenny to OTB's Eoin Sheahan after the Limerick and Clare game last weekend, Tommy Walsh fancies Brian Cody's side to build on a stronger panel that's been assembled.

"Dublin have players in form," he noted, Mattie Kenny's side coming off a convincing defeat of Laois in last weekend's Leinster opener.

"Danny Sutcliffe, Chris Crummey and Cian Boland were all brilliant, and with Donal Burke there the forwards are in great form.

"I think this year more than any other having those championship games under your belt will have a bearing on things. Kilkenny will be the favourites, but Dublin have a great chance."

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Read more about

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Cork Dublin GAA Galway Hurling Kilkenny Leinster Limerick Munster Tipperary Tommy Walsh Waterford Wexford

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