Weekend hurling previews: TV details, throw-in times and verdicts

Can Antrim do it again? Big guns Limerick and Galway, and Tipp and Cork meet

Saturday

NHL Division 1B - Laois v Dublin, O'Moore Park (5.00, live on GAAGO) Referee: Paud O'Dwyer (Carlow)

Laois didn't deserve the hefty beating against Wexford but they shot themselves in the foot too, pinging wide after wide when they had Davy Fitz's side in their sights. No point being better than the scoreline if you don't show it.

Dublin didn't raise much of a gallop either against Kilkenny. While Chris Crummey in the forwards isn't going to please everyone, he did at least chip in with three points from play. It's stupidly early, of course, to be saying that Mattie Kenny's side can't afford to lose here. But they can't afford to lose here.

Verdict: Dublin

NHL Division 1A - Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium (7.30, live on RTÉ Two, Eir Sport) Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)

The loss of Bryan O'Mara is a downer for Tipp, the newcomer having fractured his arm late on against Limerick and seemingly certain to miss the rest of the league. Otherwise, they will have had a pep in their step this week, after drawing with Limerick despite fielding a pretty callow side.

Cork scored five goals in a game for the first time in a decade against Waterford - that's more, in fact, than their total goals for three out of the past four league campaigns. It will be interesting to see whether they regard green flags as a feature or a bug through the year.

Verdict: Tipperary

Sunday

NHL Division 1A - Waterford v Westmeath, Walsh Park (1.30, live on GAAGO)
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)

For all that they came away with their hides tanned, Waterford still scored 1-27 against Cork last week. Any team is entitled to run out of steam this early in an abnormal campaign so Liam Cahill is unlikely to be panicking. They will surely have too much for Westmeath who squandered way too many chances when they had Galway within range. Killian Doyle is a timely addition for the visitors but it's realistically going to be a punishing league.

Verdict: Waterford

Galway v Limerick - Pearse Stadium (3.45pm, live on TG4)
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

Graeme Mulcahy and Declan Hannon missed last week's opener for Limerick but John Kiely has said he doesn't expect either of them to be gone for long. Considering he didn't start Cian Lynch or Gearoid Hegarty either, the depth at his disposal is enviable.

Here, they face a Galway side that showed commendable ruthlessness against Westmeath, with Cathal and Jarlath Mannion in particularly eye-catching form. Shane O'Neill tried a couple of interesting positional gambits - Gearoid McInerney at full-back, the pick of them. If he means it as a long-term plan, Seamus Flanagan will certainly give him an idea of whether or not it's viable here.

Verdict: Limerick

NHL Division 1B - Clare v Wexford, Cusack Park (1.00 live on GAAGO)
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

Forget wheels within wheels and subplots within subplots - Clare's defeat away to Antrim last week makes this one very simple all of a sudden. This is no time to be losing to anyone, least of all the returning ex-manager with whom Brian Lohan has an excruciatingly public beef.

Davy Fitzgerald had to break out the heavy artillery earlier than he'd have liked against Laois and wasn't about to let the margin of victory deflect from what had been a pretty ropey display. If ever a league match had the ingredients to take flight, this one surely has.

Verdict: Clare

Kilkenny v Antrim, Nowlan Park (1.30pm, live on GAAGO)
Referee: Seán Stack (Dublin)

Antrim were the story of the opening week - now to see what they can do in terms of backing it up. Apart from the result, surely the most pleasing aspect of the day was a full 70-minute outing from Neil McManus, his first since pre-Covid times.

Brian Cody has changed a third of his team from the Dublin game, with TJ Reid and Richie Hogan given the weekend off entirely. Richie Leahy is going to be missing for an extended spell due to a recurrence of a hamstring problem. That said - and for all of Antrim's heroics - Kilkenny surely have too much about them here.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times

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