Weekend hurling previews: Tipperary look to set the record straight

Sheedy’s Tipperary aiming to claim notable Limerick scalp

Seamus Callanan: looked extremely sharp in Tipperary’s opening league victory over 14-man Clare at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Seamus Callanan: looked extremely sharp in Tipperary’s opening league victory over 14-man Clare at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

SATURDAY 

Allianz Hurling League Division 1A

Limerick v Tipperary
, Gaelic Grounds, 7.0 [Live, eir sport 2 and RTÉ 2]

A good bit of water has passed under the bridge since these counties met in last May’s semi-final championship clash. Limerick are All-Ireland champions and Tipp under new management.

Both won their opening fixtures – Tipperary assisted in beating Clare by Tony Kelly’s red card but also injury-free Séamus Callanan looking as sharp at this stage of the season as he has for a couple of years.

Limerick were rusty in beating Wexford and some of the old bad habits in terms of wides surfaced but it’s early days for them. Kevin Downes is back starting for the first time since 2016 for the suspended Séamus Flanagan.

Opportunity for more practised Tipp to set the record straight.

Verdict: Tipperary

SUNDAY

[Matches at 2.0 unless stated] 

Allianz Hurling League Division 1A

Clare v Kilkenny, Cusack Park [Live, TG4] Kilkenny opened up in fine style last week, comfortably putting Cork in their box. Encouragingly for the full-back project, Huw Lawlor fixed some early glitches to command the position.

As the county’s master of the square, nine-time All-Ireland winning number three Noel Hickey said during the week: “Goals win matches generally so if you can have a strong full-back – I know when I was playing even though you wouldn’t be in goal, if a goal went in, in my own head I’d be saying, ‘should I have stopped that? Should I have been here or there just to block off a gap?’ It’s all about smelling a bit of danger, reading the danger, just anticipating.”

Clare’s apparent challenge to Tipp disintegrated when Tony Kelly was sent and as of now, pending late appeal, he is suspended. Clare have beaten Kilkenny in each of the last three leagues by an aggregate 25 points. This will be closer but home advantage can count.

Verdict: Clare  

Cork v Wexford, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 3.0 [Deferred, TG4]

Cork were extremely flat in Nowlan Park last week and are missing a number of players. Declan Dalton dropped back to make way for Aidan Walsh’s return but the attack stopped clicking after about 10 minutes.

Wexford had a glimpse of catching the All-Ireland champions in their first match but had to settle for second-best in the end although their direct running at times unsettled Limerick. They’ll have another shot at this if Cork don’t pick up their performance levels.
 
Verdict: Cork 

Allianz Hurling League Division 1B

Carlow v Galway, Dr Cullen Park – Carlow made a brave fist of their first match back in the division and pushed Dublin hard for about an hour. This is likely to be more of a memorable occasion than a memorable result, as the 2017 champions steamrolled Laois and are unlikely to let up here.

Verdict: Galway

Laois v Waterford, O’Moore Park – Laois were game in their opener against Galway while the biggest shock-and-awe performance came from Waterford, even though exiled to Thurles, who annihilated Offaly. More of the same likely, here.

Verdict: Waterford

Offaly v Dublin, O’Connor Park – In different circumstances, Offaly might be fancied to spring a surprise here. After all they walloped Dublin in last year’s league but a weakened side that looked demoralised while registering a high error count is realistically unlikely to put a spoke in the wheel of Dublin’s – albeit fitfully started – campaign.

Verdict: Dublin

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