Round two of the Allianz Hurling League threw up another entertaining weekend of action with plenty of talking points across Division 1.
In Group A, Limerick beat Galway, Waterford cruised past Wexford, and Cork recorded their first victory against Tipperary in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Meanwhile, in Group B, Kilkenny comprehensively overcame Carlow, Wexford fell to Clare on their home turf and Dublin returned to winning ways against Laois.
Read our major talking points from the weekend below.
Tipperary remain off the pace despite spirited performances
Two losses from two games for Liam Sheedy’s side in the Allianz League, but it’s not time to hit the panic stations just yet. Given their extended break and range of duties as All Ireland champions, it’s likely that Tipperary are much further behind than other counties in their preparations and fitness levels. That looked most definitely the case against Limerick in the first week.
Sheedy will be pleased thus far with the performances of some of his younger players, who looking to break into the starting XV. Mark Kehoe, Paddy Cadell and Willie Connors all contributed well against Cork at the weekend. While the likes of Cian Darcy and Jake Morris were very impressive in their outing in the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup during the week.
Nevertheless, Tipperary need to get a win under their belt and prove that they can finish games strongly. There is no better stage than against Galway in Salthill for the Premier County to make a statement.
Limerick play with a point to prove
Although they are reigning Allianz League and Munster champions, there seems to be a gritty attitude from the Limerick camp that they need to prove people wrong and push themselves even further in 2020, in light of their championship exit last year. That attitude was written all over their second-half performance against Tipperary in round one and John Kiely will have been very pleased to overcome the challenge of Galway on Sunday.
Their range of scorers against the Tribesmen was impressive but, while 1-19 is a very decent return for a league game, they also hit 15 wides. Still, that is something that can be rectified. Supporters will be pleased that the team created so many scoring chances and brought such sheer physicality to the game.
Despite Richie English’s and Declan Hannon’s departures, there doesn’t seem to be any major injury concerns. So, it is all lining up nicely for Limerick as they prepare to host Waterford in two week’s time.
Dublin banish Laois nightmares
Following last week’s dismal loss to Kilkenny, it was suggested that Dublin may struggle against Laois in round two of the Allianz League. And that the O’Moore County’s sensational win in last year’s preliminary quarter-final may not have just been a flash in the pan.
Well, all such thoughts were banished in Parnell Park on Sunday. Mattie Kenny’s side eased to a seven-point victory over Laois, thanks to goals from Oisin O’Rorke, David Keogh, Ronan Hayes and Eamonn Dillon. If Dublin felt any pressure going into this game, they responded emphatically by racing into 1-4 lead within the first 10 minutes.
Given that it is only the second round of the league, it is understandable that teams cannot maintain a high level of intensity for a full 70 minutes. But Kenny will be disappointed with the manner in which Dublin switched off midway through the first period, allowing Laois to level the game before they kicked on again towards the end of the half.
Yet, they managed to maintain control following the break and their ruthlessness in front of goal will have greatly pleased the management. The only major concern is the injury to Dillon to limped off early in the first half.
Lohan gains bragging rights in first battle with Fitzgerald
The battle on the sideline was always going to draw the eye as much as the action on the pitch and Brian Lohan and Davy Fitzgerald didn’t disappoint in their first inter-county match up. Their rivalry at Fitzgibbon Cup level has always been well-publicised and tensions were not eased on Sunday. According to media reports, the managers did not speak to each other nor exchange handshakes.
It was Lohan who left with the bragging rights as a sensational outing from Tony Kelly helped them to a three-point victory over Wexford. The win was that bit more impressive when you consider that it was held in the fortress of Wexford Park. Clare also had their captain John Conlon dismissed on the half-hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Kevin Foley.
The Banner County are progressing well under their new management, with two wins from two in the Allianz League, and they will hope to extend their winning streak when they welcome Laois to Cusack Park in Ennis on February 16.