The stakes will be very high for reigning Allianz League champions, Kilkenny and runners-up, Tipperary in their 1A Round 4 game next Sunday as the losers will be in real danger of not reaching the quarter-finals.
Limerick are in a much better situation, topping the table on six points, as they prepare to host Cork while it’s Clare v Wexford in Ennis.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 1A: LIMERICK SEEKING EIGHTH SUCCESSIVE WIN
Sunday: Clare v Wexford, Ennis, 2.0; Tipperary v Kilkenny, Semple Stadium, 2.0; Limerick v Cork, Gaelic Grounds, 2.30.
Having beaten Carlow, Kilkenny, Cork and Galway in last year’s All-Ireland championship, Limerick have taken the Wexford, Tipperary and Kilkenny scalps in the first three rounds of this year’s Allianz League, leaving them bidding for an eighth successive win when they take on Cork in the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday.
If last year’s championships games (they didn’t meet in the League) are anything to go by, it should be another cracking contest. Cork and Limerick drew (1-25 to 0-28) in the Munster ‘round robin’ and the sides against finished level again in the All-Ireland semi-final before Limerick pressed on in extra-time, winning by 3-32 to 2-31.
Limerick have won their opening three League games by an average of over six points while Cork, who recorded their first win when beating Clare last weekend, have a scoring difference of -8 points.
Davy Fitzgerald takes second-placed Wexford (4pts) to Ennis for a clash with Clare, for whom he played and managed over many years. Clare have lost two of three games so far and are bottom of the table on scoring difference behind Cork, Kilkenny and Tipperary, all of whom are also on two points. Wexford beat Clare by four points in last year’s League.
The losers of Tipperary v Kilkenny will be in real danger of missing out on a place in the quarter-finals, which makes their clash in Semple Stadium very interesting. Kilkenny beat Tipperary twice in last year’s League, winning 2-22 to 2-21 in the 1A campaign and by 2-23 to 2-17 in the final.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 1B: DUBLIN v WATERFORD THE TOP ATTRACTION
Sunday: Offaly v Galway, O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 1.0; Dublin v Waterford, Parnell Park, 2.0; Carlow v Laois, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2.0.
Waterford are the only team on full points after three rounds, but are now facing into their two toughest games against Dublin next Sunday and against Galway on the following weekend. Waterford are already guaranteed a place in the quarter-final but will be anxious to build on that over the remaining two games before taking their place in the knock-out stages.
Dublin experienced their first defeat when going down to Galway last Sunday. Galway take on Offaly, whom they beat easily in League (2-19 to 0-14) and Championship (5-18 to 2-15) last year.
Reflecting on Sunday's defeat Dublin manager Mattie Kenny said: “When you come down to places like Pearse Stadium, against a quality team like Galway, then you’ll know where you’re at and you’re not in any false position.
“Galway are All-Ireland champions from 2017. They are one of the top two sides … that’s the standard that we’ve got to get to.
“Any time you lose, you’re a bit disappointed. Hopefully, they will learn something and it will stand to us as the year goes on," added Mattie.
“A lot of these guys have played an awful lot of Fitzgibbon games. We talked about it a few weeks ago, the load that is on them.
“I’m not making any excuses, but Galway looked that big sharper and they were more top-of-the-ground and we looked leggy all across the field.”
Offaly are the only team in the group without a win, leaving them in relegation trouble ahead of their last two games against Galway (home) and Carlow (away). The winners of Carlow (1 point) v Laois (2 points) will be guaranteed to avoid relegation. They didn’t meet in last year’s League but clashed in the Joe McDonagh Cup, with Carlow winning by 2-25 to 2-15.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 2A: WESTMEATH SETTING THE PROMOTION PACE
Saturday: London v Kerry, McGovern Park, Ruislip2.0
Sunday: Westmeath v Meath, TEG Cusack Park, 12.30; Mayo v Antrim, Ballina, 1.0
Having missed out on promotion last year after losing the final to Carlow, Westmeath have made a great start to their bid this year, winning all three games, which leaves them two points ahead of Kerry and three ahead of Meath.
They host the Royals, whom they beat in both last year’s League and Joe McDonagh Cup.
London, who have yet to pick up a point, host Kerry who beat them by 2-30 to 1-13 in last year’s League. Mayo are still waiting for their first win but have a game less played than Antrim, whom they host on Sunday.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 2B: TOP v BOTTOM AS DERRY MOVE TOWARDS FINAL
SUNDAY: Warwickshire v Derry, Pairc na hEireann, 12.0; Down v Donegal, Ballycran, 2.0; Wicklow v Kildare, Aughrim, 2.0.
Derry, who are on full points after three games, are fancied to make it four wins in a row against Warwickshire, who have lost their opening three games by an average of 20 points. Kildare, Wicklow and Down are all on four points while Donegal have yet to win a game. Donegal beat Down in last year’s League before the Mourne men recovered and reached the final where they lost to Mayo.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 3A: TOP v SECOND IN DR.HYDE PARK
Sunday: Louth v Armagh, Darver, 12.30; Monaghan v Lancashire, Iniskeen, 2.0; Roscommon v Tyrone, Dr. Hyde Park, 2.0
Roscommon (6pts), host Tyrone (4pts) while Armagh (4pts) are also in the promotion mix. Tyrone beat Roscommon by four points in last year’s League. Louth and Armagh didn’t meet as the Orchard county were in 2B. Nor did Lancashire and Monaghan as the exiles were in 3B where they won the title.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 3B: SLIGO LEAD THE WAY IN PROMOTION RACE
Sunday: Cavan v Longford, Kingspan Breffni Park, 12.30; Leitrim v Fermanagh, Carrick-on-Shannon, 2.0
Sligo have won all three games and are well-placed to book a place in the final. They have no game on Sunday, which gives Longford (4pts) a chance to join them at the top of the table. They play Cavan, who are on two points. Leitrim and Fermanagh have still to win a game.
2019 ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE: RESULTS & FIXTURES
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 1A
Round 1: Tipperary 2-16 Clare 1-11; Limerick 1-17 Limerick 2-11; Kilkenny 2-18 Cork 0-17.
Round 2: Clare 2-20 Kilkenny 1-22; Wexford 1-18 Cork 0-17; Limerick 1-21 Tipperary 1-14.
Round 3: Cork 1-20 Clare 0-20; Limerick 2-18 Kilkenny 0-15; Wexford 1-15 Tipperary 1-14.
Round 4: Feb 24: Clare v Wexford; Tipperary v Kilkenny; Limerick v Cork.
Round 5: Mar 3: Clare v Limerick; Cork v Tipperary; Wexford v Kilkenny.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 1B
Round 1: Dublin 3-15 Carlow 0-18; Galway 1-27 Laois 2-15; Waterford 2-28 Offaly 0-7.
Round 2: Carlow 0-20 Galway 0-20; Waterford 4-22 Laois 1-15; Dublin 2-19 Offaly 0-12.
Round 3: Laois 3-17 Offaly 2-16; Waterford 3-15 Carlow 0-10; Galway 0-20 Dublin 1-11.
Round 4: Feb 24: Offaly v Galway; Carlow v Laois; Dublin v Waterford.
Round 5: Mar 3: Carlow v Offaly; Dublin v Laois; Waterford v Galway.
Quarter-finals: Mar 10: Top 1A v 4th 1B; 2nd 1A v 3rd 1B; 3rd 1A v 2nd 1B; 4th 1A v Top 1B.
Semi-finals: Mar 16.
Final: Mar 24
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 2A
Round 1: Mayo 0-17 Meath 0-7; Westmeath 2-17 London 0-15; Kerry 1-21 Antrim 2-16.
Round 2: Westmeath 4-13 Kerry 2-17; Antrim 3-13 Meath 2-15; Mar 9: London v Mayo.
Round 3: Meath 3-16 London 0-10; Westmeath 1-17 Antrim 1-15; Kerry 3-18 Mayo 0-9.
Round 4: Feb 23: London v Kerry; Feb 24: Westmeath v Meath; Mayo v Antrim.
Round 5: Mar 4: Antrim v London; Kerry v Meath; Westmeath v Mayo.
Final: Mar 10
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 2B
Round 1: Kildare 2-16 Donegal 1-13; Derry 1-16 Down 0-14; Wicklow 2-20 Warwickshire 0-11.
Round 2: Derry 3-18 Donegal 0-12; Down 1-23 Wicklow 0-15; Kildare 8-19 Warwickshire 0-6.
Round 3: Wicklow 2-13 Donegal 0-15; Derry 0-21 Kildare 1-16; Down 1-16 Warwickshire 0-11.
Round 4: Feb 24: Down v Donegal; Warwickshire v Derry; Wicklow v Kildare.
Round 5: Mar 3: Derry v Wicklow; Donegal v Warwickshire; Kildare v Down.
Final: Mar 10
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 3A
Round 1: Roscommon 3-18 Louth 1-11; Armagh 4-11 Monaghan 0-5; Tyrone 2-17 Lancashire 0-10.
Round 2: Armagh 2-14 Lancashire 0-12; Roscommon 1-21 Monaghan 0-14; Tyrone 2-23 Louth 1-11.
Round 3: Louth 2-12 Lancashire 1-13; Roscommon 0-18 Armagh 1-11; Monaghan 4-12 Tyrone 0-13.
Round 4: Feb 24: Louth v Armagh; Monaghan v Lancashire; Roscommon v Tyrone.
Round 5: Mar 3: Lancashire v Roscommon; Louth v Monaghan; Tyrone v Armagh.
Final: Mar 10
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 3B
Round 1: Cavan 2-9 Leitrim 1-11; Sligo 2-14 Fermanagh 1-16.
Round 2: Sligo 2-14 Leitrim 0-19; Longford 1-16 Fermanagh 2-7
Round 3: Longford 2-18 Leitrim 0-16; Sligo 4-19 Cavan 2-6.
Round 4: Feb 24: Cavan v Longford; Leitrim v Fermanagh
Round 5: Mar 3: Fermanagh v Cavan; Longford v Sligo.
Final: Mar 10