Allianz Hurling League: Weekend Previews
Cork travel to Croke Park to play Dublin with high hopes and sound record
Liam Rushe returned to the Dublin side after suspension against Galway in the Allianz Hurling League Division One A game at Parnell Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.
Division One A
Dublin v Cork, Croke Park, 5.0 – The division’s weird boom-and-bust cycles have passed Cork by, as they have uniquely lost both opening fixtures. Dublin rebounded against Galway in the way they do after a really poor performance. They were assisted by the homely comforts of Parnell Park, and the return from suspension of Liam Rushe who rallied the team while Niall McMorrow was cracking in attack. Dublin have, however a terrible record in Croke Park in recent years and last year lost here to Cork. Visiting manager Kieran Kingston has made a pile of changes from the Waterford match, including the welcoming back of Séamus Harnedy into attack from injury. Sheer need, coupled with an obvious liking for the venue, may just swing the points for Cork.
Division One B
Laois v Clare, O’Moore Park, 7.0 – This should be straightforward for Clare whose campaign will swing on the match with Limerick later this month. In the meantime they need to guard against slip-ups even when experimenting with players and positions. Laois have started poorly and this will be a big step up.
Division Two A – London v Kildare, Ruislip, 1.30
Division Three A –Tyrone v Warwickshire, Healy Park, 5.0
SUNDAY [Matches at 2.0 unless stated]
Division One A
Kilkenny v Galway, Nowlan Park – The defeat of Tipperary was an excellent outcome for Kilkenny, drawing some very encouraging performances from aspiring panellists and yet striking late and precisely to harvest the points, having trailed for nearly the whole match. The defence did yield opportunities that weren’t taken but overall they’ll be pleased. In keeping with the topsy-turvy inclinations of this division Galway followed up a sound beating of Cork with an effective no-show against Dublin. Given new manager Micheál O’Donoghue’s publicly stated desire for a new consistency that was, to put it mildly, disappointing. In previous league seasons Galway have managed to find the result they need against Kilkenny but here, given the holders’ improvement between their first and second outings that may not be possible.
Tipperary v Waterford, Semple Stadium, 3.0 [Deferred, TG4] – Holders and table toppers Waterford make the trip to Tipp sitting on top of the table. The energy and drive of their opening wins over Kilkenny and Cork will be qualified by the absence for this match of Maurice Shanahan, suspended for the red card picked up against Cork. With Tadhg de Búrca’s fitness not confirmed and Pauric Mahony still rehabbing, Derek McGrath’s team are a bit below full strength. Michael Ryan has been deprived of Jason Forde, injured in UL’s defeat by Mary I in the Fitzgibbon Cup final and James Barry, who has been impressive to date, but Séamus Callanan and Kieran Bergin are available for the first time this season. The home side will need their radar to be functioning a bit better than it was in Nowlan Park but they showed in the Munster final they had the wherewithal to cope with Waterford’s game, holding defensively, tracking the runners and shooting from distance when appropriate. This should be an interesting contest but Tipp have more to prove and Waterford are weakened. Home win.
Division One B
Kerry v Wexford, Austin Stack Park, 12.35 [Live, TG4] – A big day for Kerry, who under Ciarán Carey, have been very lively in the two matches to date and here will open the newly refurbished Stack Park. Recognition arrives in the form of the TG4 cameras and with them a Wexford team, for whom promotion is over for another year. Still with Conor McDonald back the visitors should have more bite.
Offaly v Limerick, O’Connor Park – Offaly deservedly got off the mark against Laois with Shane Dooley’s marksmanship pointing the way but this will be a great deal more difficult although coincidentally Offaly have derailed Limerick’s promotion challenge in the past two seasons, taking three vital points off them. TJ Ryan’s team look well primed this season though and they should redress the balance.
Division Two A – Carlow v Derry, Netwatch Cullen Park, Westmeath v Antrim, Cusack Park; Division Two B – Wicklow v Armagh, Aughrim, 12.30, Down v Mayo, Páirc Esler, Meath v Donegal, Trim; Division Three A – Monaghan v Louth, Castleblayney, 1.0, Roscommon v Fingal, Athleague, 1.0; Division Three B – Sligo v Fermanagh, Markievicz Park, 12.30, Longford v Leitrim, Newtownforbes.