The clash of reigning All-Ireland champions, Limerick and Allianz League champions, Kilkenny is the biggest attraction next weekend as the hurling League moves on to Round 3.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 1
Saturday: Cork v Clare, Pairc Ui Rinn, 7.15
Sunday (2.0): Kilkenny v Limerick, Nowlan Park; Wexford v Tipperary, Innovate Wexford Park.
When Limerick lost to Clare by 11 points in the final round of Munster ‘round robin’ games last June, their championship prospects looked in serious doubt, but everything changed over the next two months as they went on to win the All-Ireland title for the first time since 1973. They beat Carlow, Kilkenny, Cork and Galway to take the title and have started 2019 very impressively too, beating Wexford and Tipperary in their opening two League games. They are the only team in 1A on full points after two rounds. Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wexford and Clare have all won one and lost one so far while Cork lost their first two games. They have only won two of eight League games since the start of last year’s campaign.
Limerick head for Nowlan Park to take on Kilkenny, the reigning Allianz League champions, who have won one (v Cork) and lost one (v Clare) of their opening two games. Limerick beat Kilkenny by 0-27 to 1-22 in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final in a game where John Kiely’s men had no fewer than 11 scorers, led by Aaron Gillane (0-5) and Tom Morrissey (0-4). Kilkenny haven’t lost a League or Championship game in Nowlan Park since the second round of last year’s League when they went down to Clare.
The Bannermen, who beat Kilkenny in Ennis in Round 2 last Sunday week, head to Pairc Ui Rinn to take on Cork, who are trapped at the bottom of the table after losing their opening games to Kilkenny and Wexford. Clare beat Cork by four points in last year’s League, but the Rebels turned the tables in the Munster championship, beating the Bannermen by five points in the ‘round robin’ and by two points in the final.
Tipperary v Wexford will draw a big crowd to Innovate Wexford Park for the first clash between the counties in a year. Tipperary won last year’s League meeting by six points.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 1B:
Saturday (7.0); Laois v Offaly, Portlaoise; Waterford v Carlow, Fraher Field.
Sunday: (2.0): Galway v Dublin, Pearse Stadium
Without a win after two games, Laois and Offaly face into a crucial head-to-head contest in O’Moore Park on Saturday night. Laois have lost their first two games by a total of 25 points while Offaly lost their two outings by a total of 40 points.
Offaly beat Laois by five points in last year’s campaign and later on Laois survived in 1B after beating Antrim in a play-off.
Carlow’s draw with Galway was one of the big talking points of Round 2 and now Colm Bonner is preparing to take his squad to Dungarvan to face Waterford, who have won their first two games. Carlow v Waterford meetings have been rare over the years, which adds to the intrigue of the clash between first and fourth placed teams.
Its second v third in Pearse Stadium when Dublin plays Galway in what will be their second meeting this year. Galway won a Walsh Cup semi-final by a point in January, having also beaten Dublin twice last year by six points (League) and one point (Championship).
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 2A:
Sunday: Meath v London, Trim, 1.0; Antrim v Westmeath, Corrigan Park, 2.0; Kerry v Mayo, Tralee 2.0
Westmeath, who missed out on promotion to 1B last year after losing the final to Carlow, are setting the early pace in their bid to reach the top flight, having won their first two games. Antrim, who dropped out of 1B last year, are equally focussed on promotion and, after losing to Kerry in the first round, they got back on track with a win over Meath.
Their last clash with Westmeath was in last year’s Joe McDonagh Cup, with the Leinster men winning by two points.
Kerry, who lost to Westmeath in Round 2, has home advantage against Mayo, who was promoted from 2B last year. Mayo lost their opening game this season, while their Round 2 meeting with London was postponed. It’s a clash of the bottom two when Meath take on London in Trim.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 2B:
Sunday (2.0): Donegal v Wicklow, Letterkenny; Kildare v Derry, Newbridge; Warwickshire v Down Pairc Na hEireann.
Having both won their first two games, Kildare v Derry is the Round 3 highlight. Kildare, who beat Donegal and Warwickshire in their first two games, have a massive scoring difference of 43 points while Derry are +20 points after beating Down and Donegal.
Down and Wicklow are both on two points and will be hoping to make progress when they play Warwickshire and Donegal respectively. Warwickshire have lost their first two games to Wicklow and Kildare by a total of 52 points.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 3A:
Saturday: Lancashire v Louth, Abbotstown, 2.0
Sunday (2.0): Armagh v Roscommon, Athletic Grounds; Tyrone v Monaghan, Omagh.
Rather unusually, three counties, Armagh, Roscommon and Tyrone all won their opening two games while three others, Lancashire, Louth and Monaghan have lost all their first two outings. Tyrone will be fancied to maintain their winning run at home to Monaghan, whom they beat by four points in last year’s campaign. Armagh, who dropped down from 2B, have yet to concede a goal in this year’s League, pointing to defensive strength that they hope will enable them to beat Roscommon in the Athletic Grounds.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 3B:
Sunday (2.0): Longford v Leitrim, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park; Sligo v Cavan, Sligo Centre of Excellence.
Having won their first two games, Sligo lead the way as they prepare to host Cavan, who have two points after winning their only game to date. Longford also won their opening game, while Leitrim and Fermanagh have both lost their two outings.
2019 ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE: RESULTS & FIXTURES
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: Feb 16: Cork v Clare; Feb 17: Kilkenny v Limerick; Wexford v Tipperary.
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: Feb
16: Laois v Offaly; Waterford v Carlow; Feb 17: Galway v Dublin.
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: Feb 17: Meath v London; Antrim v Westmeath; Kerry v Mayo.
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: Feb 17: Donegal v Wicklow; Kildare v Derry; Warwickshire v Down.
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: Feb 16: Lancashire v Louth; Feb 17: Armagh v Roscommon; Tyrone v Monaghan.
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: Feb 16: Longford v Leitrim; Sligo v Cavan.
Round 4: Feb 24: Cavan v Longford; Leitrim v Fermanagh
Round 5: Mar 3: Fermanagh v Cavan; Longford v Sligo.
Final: Mar 10