The Allianz Hurling League returns this weekend with a full round of fixtures following a rain-soaked Sunday forced the cancellation of a number of key games last weekend.
The fixture list has been thrown into chaos after last week’s weather mishap meaning that this weekend will see a number of Round Five ties played, as well as the first of four quarter-finals.
Lest we forget that across the country the so-called ‘weaker’ counties will be preparing for huge games like the Division 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B finals.
As well as all of this there is a huge relegation play-off in Division 1B.
So, without further ado, here are your key talking points heading into this weekend’s Allianz Hurling League.
Cork v Tipperary – A Tough One To Call
One of the biggest games in hurling takes centre stage on Sunday as Cork welcome their Munster rivals, Tipperary, to Leeside.
Traditionally, there is never much between these two counties and the recent stats prove this. The two teams have met four teams in the last four years with each county coming out on top twice.
The form guide, however, may be pointing to a Rebel win as John Meyler’s side have built up some momentum winning two straight games after a rocky start. Cork will be buoyed by their victory the last day out when they defeated All-Ireland champions, Limerick, who up until then had been firing on all cylinders.
The Premier County’s fortunes have fared differently so far. Liam Sheedy’s side sit bottom of Division 1A with just one win and three defeats. There are rumours circulating around the county that the Tipp hurling squad are in an intense training camp at present with one eye firmly set on the Championship, so it will be interesting to see what Tipperary shows up on Sunday.
The Impact Of Walsh Park
Walsh Park is a fortress in which Waterford thrive and the news that they will host All Ireland champions, Limerick, there in the Munster championship came as a huge boost to the county.
This weekend’s fixture is one fans of Division 1B have been looking forward to and supporters are sure to turn up in their droves. The atmosphere is sure to give Waterford a significant boost.
Waterford welcome the 2017 All-Ireland champions, Galway, to their home-turf in what is sure to be a fantastic occasion for all invovled. While there is no promotion up for grabs, the top spot is on offer for the victorious team who won’t want to give an inch in this crunch encounter.
Will Clare Make The Quarter-Finals?
You would think that, with Clare sitting second in the table, they are sure to make a final eight spot but Cork, Tipperary, Wexford and Kilkenny all have a game in hand and Clare’s fate will be decided this weekend.
If Cork win and Wexford v Kilkenny ends in a draw, Clare will be relying on points difference. While all is not lost if they don’t make the last eight there is no doubt that it will be a knock on Clare’s confidence heading into the Championship.
Who Is Going Down?
Offaly welcome Carlow to Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park with the loser set to drop down into Division 2 for next season.
A huge game for both counties. Carlow have just recently been promoted to Division 1B and will have hoped to keep that momentum going and push the county further up the ladder. It all looked so good too when they drew with Galway in Round Two, however, they have drawn with Laois since then and lost to Offaly meaning they are fighting for survival.
Relegation to Division 2 would come as a disaster for Offaly given their rich tradition. The county has fallen on hard times recently and remaining in Division 1 ahead of the league restructures coming into play next year will be vital for them.