Waterford v Carlow, Saturday, 7pm, Fraher Field, Dungarvan.
Waterford and Carlow will battle it out underlight on Saturday night in Dungarvan with plenty at stake for both sides. Waterford are massive favourites here but Colm Bonnar will know the Waterford side having coached many of them at Fitzgibbon Cup level in WIT. Carlow have literally nothing to lose here so they may just well go for it and see what happens. Division 1b looks like a shoot out between Galway and Waterford at present, Carlow would fancy making the quarter finals though with games against Laois and Offaly to come in the coming weeks.
The league to date has started well for Pauric Fanning’s Waterford. He has got two wins from two games under his belt against Offaly and Laois. He will obviously know the two big games will be against Galway and Dublin. On the opening weekend Waterford hammered Offaly by 2-28 to 0-07, while they followed that up two weeks ago with a very good win in Laois beating the hosts 4-22 to 1-15. Carlow have been the team of the year so far for me. They have pushed Dublin close losing out by only three points on the opening weekend 0-18 to 0-15, while they drew with 2017 All-Ireland Champions two weeks ago in Dr Cullen Park. Another difficult task here but you wouldn’t write them fully off.
Looking at the sides now. Jamie Barron and Austin Gleeson are expected to return to the fold this weekend. The Ballygunner players will probably be given another week or two break I would imagine after their loss in the All-Ireland semi-final to Ballyhale. In defence though players like Conor Prunty, Noel Connors, Brick Walsh and Gleeson will all be key. The attack will one again have the Ballysaggart brothers Stephen and Shane, while DJ Foran is also likely to start. Carlow manager Colm Bonnar will look to Alan Corcoran, Richard Coady and Paul Doyle in defence, while Jack Kavanagh and John Michael Nolan will also be key. In attack much will rely on the scoring exploits of Marty Kavanagh and Denis Murphy.
Waterford (Allianz HL v Carlow): Billy Nolan; Shane McNulty, Conor Prunty, Noel Connors; Jordan Henley, Michael Walsh, Austin Gleeson; Jamie Barron, Colin Dunford; Jack Prendergast, Mikey Kearney, DJ Foran; Tommy Ryan, Stephen Bennett, Shane Bennett.
Carlow (Allianz HL v Waterford): Brian Tracey; Alan Corcoran, Paul Doyle, Gary Bennett; Ger Coady, David English, Richard Coady; Jack Kavanagh, Jack Murphy; John Michael Nolan, Martin Kavanagh, Seamus Murphy; James Doyle, Denis Murphy, Ross Smithers.
A look at the betting has Waterford massive favourites at 1/33 while Carlow are 10/1 and the draw is 25/1. Stephen Bennett to score a goal anytime is even money which is definitely worth a few quid. Waterford to win by 16 or more points at 13/5 may also be worth considering.