It’s approaching the make-or-break stage of the new-look Leinster Senior Hurling Championship.
Innovate Wexford Park will be packed on Saturday evening for a top-of-the-table clash which is a repeat of last year’s Leinster final.
The following afternoon, Dublin and Offaly will battle to remove the threat of relegation after failing to salvage a result in any of their matches to date.
While it is possible at this point for three teams to finish joint-top of the group on six points each, a victory for Galway over Wexford would eliminate that scenario and guarantee the reigning champions a slot in the provincial final on 1st July.
Alternatively, should Davy Fitzgerald’s side extend their impressive home record, the Slaney-siders could start making plans for a return to Croke Park also. Only a defeat to Kilkenny by an unrealistically wide margin in the final round could deny them a place in the decider.
The top two teams from the group will contest the Leinster final, but it’s worth remembering that the third placed team remains in the hunt for All-Ireland honours.
Perhaps the only statistic that Galway were not entirely happy with in 2017 was the lack of goals they scored, but they’ve already rectified that this season, hitting five in their opening assignment versus Offaly and raising another green flag at home to Kilkenny thanks to Joe Canning’s unstoppable penalty.
It was Wexford’s home victory over Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final which really ignited their championship campaign last year, but they were pushed all the way by Dublin on home soil recently before building on that victory with an emphatic defeat of Offaly.
The Faithful County now face a mammoth task to lift themselves for the crucial game in Parnell Park. Regardless of Dublin’s result in their final group game against Galway, the winners of this Sunday’s contest will avoid the drop to the Joe McDonagh Cup as the ‘head-to-head’ result counts rather than scoring difference should two teams finish level on points.
Pat Gilroy probably feels Dublin deserved more after going toe-to-toe against Kilkenny and Wexford, before losing narrowly on both occasions.
For the moment, though, the focus is solely on this weekend’s action and the prospect of two more exciting games in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship.
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Round-Robin
Round 1: Galway 5-18, Offaly 2-15; Kilkenny 1-24, Dublin 3-16
Round 2: Kilkenny 2-19, Offaly 1-13; Wexford 0-22, Dublin 2-14
Round 3: Wexford 5-24, Offaly 2-9; Galway 1-22, Kilkenny 2-11
Round 4: Wexford v Galway (2 June); Dublin v Offaly (3 June)
Round 5: Galway v Dublin (9 June); Kilkenny v Wexford (9 June)