The race for a place in the All-Ireland hurling series got underway on Saturday, as Round 1 of the qualifying kicked off.
Eight teams start their respective journeys looking to reach July’s quarter-finals, where they’ll hope to take a leaf out of reigning champions Clare’s book and go all the way to glory.
Here, we take a look at the Round 1 fixtures and results, with a recap of all the action in Northern Ireland.
|June 28||Waterford 2-22 Laois 1-15|
|June 29||Antrim vs. Offaly|
|July 5||Clare vs. Wexford|
|July 5||Tipperary vs. Kilkenny/Galway|
Saturday, June 28
Waterford kicked off their All-Ireland SHC qualification campaign in style with a 10-point victory over Laois on Saturday evening in Round 1.
Two goals and 22 points handed Waterford the victory in a one-sided display at Walsh Park, with Laois’ 1-15 total not enough to keep their qualification hopes alive.
However, it was Laois that got off to the better start on Saturday, with Neil Foyle finding the net after a goalkeeping calamity to give his side the lead before even a minute had ticked by—as Leinster Express Sport reported:
GOAL! 57 seconds gone and Neil Foyle contests a high ball, it breaks kindly for him, and he strokes it home. What a start, 1-0 to 0-0— LeinsterExpressSport (@Express_Sport) June 28, 2014
It didn’t take long for Waterford to get back on level terms, though, with Shane Walsh scoring the first of his impressive brace just nine minutes later as he dragged his side back into the match.
In the 21st minute, Walsh was at it again for his second green flag of the match, as Waterford went in at the interval leading 2-10 to 1-5.
All Ireland Hurling Qualifiers Waterford 2-5 Shane Walsh again Laois 1-5 21 Mins— Waterford GAA (@WaterfordGAA) June 28, 2014
The second half followed the same pattern as the first, as Willie Hyland gave Laois hope with a brace of points quickly after half-time, only for Waterford to restore their dominance and hold out for the win.
They were good value for their victory of 2-22 to 1-15, and that’ll give them the world of confidence heading into Round 2.
If Waterford continue this form, then they’ll be hot favourites to reach the quarter-finals, but they need to keep the likes of Walsh and Kevin Moran playing well and dominating games.
Sunday sees Antrim and Offaly face off at Ballycastle, with a much tighter affair expected as the qualifiers come to life.