Crucial League weekend ahead as Kilkenny take on Clare

Cats face intriguing battle with Banner in Ennis

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Paul Murphy (Kilkenny) charges out of defence during last Sunday's League opener against Waterford. The Cats travel to Ennis this Sunday to take on Clare. Photo: Pat Moore

The Allianz Hurling League may be only heading for its second round but with just five series of games in the group stages of the top Divisions, next weekend’s programme could be crucially important in deciding some qualification/relegation issues.

Four points is often enough to earn quarter-finals places, which is encouraging for Tipperary, Waterford, Cork (1A) and Galway, Wexford, Kerry (1B), all of whom won last weekend.

DIVISION 1A: FIRST ROUND WINNERS IN WALSH PARK CLASH

Saturday (7.0): Cork v Dublin, Pairc Ui Rinn

Sunday (2.0): Waterford v Tipperary, Walsh Park; Clare v Kilkenny, Ennis.

Three intriguing contests are on next weekend’s agenda, with first round winners, Cork, Tipperary and Waterford attempting to edge closer to booking quarter-finals and Dublin, Kilkenny and Clare bidding to get back on track after losing their opening games. Waterford and Tipperary, who meet in Walsh Park on Sunday, both recorded impressive wins over Kilkenny and Dublin respectively last weekend.

Tipperary had an easy win over Waterford in last year’s Munster final, while the Deise enjoyed a one-point win over Tipp in last year’s Allianz Hurling League clash in Thurles.  Clare were easy winners (4-22 to 2-19) over Kilkenny in last year’s Division 1 semi-final; Kilkenny beat the Banner by a point twice (1A group game and relegation play-off) in 2015.

Dublin beat Cork by 4-21 to 2-17 in last year’s Allianz Hurling League but the Leesiders gained revenge in the All-Ireland qualifiers, winning by 1-26 to 1-23.

DIVISION 1B: WEXFORD HOPING TO BUILD ON EARLY SUCCESS

Saturday (7.0): Laois v Offaly, Portlaoise.

Sunday (2.0): Galway v Wexford, Pearse Stadium; Limerick v Kerry, Gaelic Grounds

Wexford got a huge boost under new manager, Davy Fitzgerald in the opening round last Sunday, beating Limerick by three points. Their next test is against Galway, who were even easier winners against Offaly, romping to victory by 26 points. It will be the first Allianz Hurling League clash between Galway and Wexford since 2011 when the Tribesmen won by 21 points.

Offaly beat Laois by five points in last year’s 1B campaign while Limerick beat Kerry by four points in 2016.

DIVISION 2A: CARLOW AND ANTRIM SHOW EARLY FORM

Sunday: Armagh v London, Athletic Grounds, 1.0; Carlow v Antrim, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2.0; Kildare v Westmeath, Newbridge.

First round winners, Carlow and Antrim meet in Netwatch Cullen Park, while Kildare, who also won last Sunday, will have home advantage against Westmeath. Carlow beat Antrim by six points in last year’s League. Westmeath beat Kildare by 11 points in last year’s Allianz Hurling League. London, who lost to Antrim last weekend, finished third in 2A last year, while Armagh were promoted from 2B.

Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny) clears his lines during the Allianz League clash with Waterford. Photo: Pat Moore

DIVISION 2B: ROYALS MAKE IMPRESSIVE START TO PROMOTION BID

Sunday: Down v Roscommon, Ballycran, 12.30; Meath v Derry, Pairc Tailteann, 2.0; Wicklow v Mayo, Arklow 2.0.

Last year’s Christy Ring Cup champions, Meath, made a good start to this year’s League campaign, easily beating Down, and will face more Ulster opposition at home to Derry Sunday. Derry started well too, beating Mayo by a point.

Wicklow, the group’s third winners (v Roscommon) in the first round, host Mayo, who lost to Derry.

Roscommon, who were promoted from 3A this year, face the long trip to Ballycran to take on Down, who were beaten 2B finalists last year.

DIVISION 3A: FIRST ROUND WINNERS MEET IN CASTEBLAYNEY

Sunday (2.0): Monaghan v Donegal, Castleblayney; Louth v Tyrone, Darver

Monaghan and Donegal, both of whom won last Sunday, clash in a contest that could have a major bearing on who reaches the final later on. Meanwhile, Louth and Tyrone will be bidding to get back on the winning trial after losing last Sunday.

DIVISION 3B: EARLY WINS FOR LONGFORD AND WARWICKSHIRE

Saturday: Fermanagh v Warwickshire, Enniskillen, 2.30; Sunday: Leitrim v Longford, Carrick-on-Shannon, 2.0

Longford and Warwickshire, both of whom won their opening games, face ‘away’ engagements next weekend. Leitrim play their first game in the five-team group.

ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE 2017: RESULTS AND FIXTURES

DIVISION 1A

Round 1: Cork 0-21 Clare 1-11; Tipperary 1-24 Dublin 1-8; Waterford 1-15 Kilkenny 0-17.

Round 2: Next Saturday: Cork v Dublin; Next Sunday: Clare v Kilkenny; Waterford v Tipperary

Round 3: Mar 4: Dublin v Waterford; Mar 5: Kilkenny v Cork; Tipperary v Clare.

Round 4: Mar 11: Tipperary v Kilkenny; Mar 12: Clare v Dublin; Waterford v Cork.

Round 5: Mar 26: Cork v Tipperary; Clare v Waterford; Dublin v Kilkenny

 

DIVISION 1B

Round 1: Kerry 3-14 Laois 0-19; Galway 6-23 Offaly 1-12; Wexford 1-14 Limerick 0-14.

Round 2: Next Saturday: Laois v Offaly; Next Sunday: Galway v Wexford; Limerick v Kerry.

Round 3: Mar 4: Limerick v Offaly; Mar 5: Galway v Laois; Wexford v Kerry

Round 4: Mar 11: Laois v Limerick; Mar 12: Offaly v Wexford; Kerry v Galway.

Round 5: Mar 26: Kerry v Offaly; Wexford v Laois; Limerick v Galway.

 

QUARTER-FINALS

Apr 1 /2: 1st 1A v 4th 1B;  2nd 1A v 3rd 1B; 3rd 1A v 2nd 1B; 4th 1A v 1st 1B

SEMI-FINALS

April 16

FINAL

April 23

DIVISION 2A

Round 1: Antrim 0-20 London 0-13;  Kildare 1-18 Armagh 1-15; Carlow 1-13 Westmeath 1-11.

Round 2: Next Sunday: Antrim v London; Carlow v Antrim; Kildare v Westmeath.

Round 3: Mar 5: Carlow v London; Westmeath v Armagh; Antrim v Kildare.

Round 4: Mar 12: Westmeath v London; Armagh v Antrim; Kildare v Carlow.

Round 5: Mar 26:  Kildare v London; Antrim v Westmeath; Carlow v Armagh.

Final: Apr 1 /2: 1st v 2nd

DIVISION 2B

Round 1: Derry 1-14 Mayo 1-13;  Meath 4-21 Down 1-10; Wicklow 2-17 Roscommon 0-7.

Round 2: Next Sunday:  Down v Roscommon; Meath v Derry; Wicklow v Mayo.

Round 3: Mar 5: Roscommon v Meath; Derry v Wicklow; Mayo v Down.

Round 4: Mar 12: Derry v Roscommon; Wicklow v Down; Mayo v Meath.

Round 5: Mar 26: Down v Derry; Roscommon v Mayo; Meath v Wicklow.

Final: Apr 1 /2: 1s v 2nd

DIVISION 3A

Round 1: Donegal 2-23 Louth 1-14; Monaghan 3-15 Tyrone 1-11.

Round 2: Next Sunday: Monaghan v Donegal; Louth v Tyrone.

Round 3: Feb 26: Tyrone v Donegal; Louth v Monaghan.

Round 4: Mar 5: Monaghan v Louth; Donegal v Tyrone

Round 5: Mar 12: Donegal v Monaghan; Tyrone v Louth.

Round 6: Louth v Donegal; Monaghan v Tyrone.

Final: Apr 1 /2: 1st v 2nd

DIVISION 3B

Round 1:  Warwickshire 3-9 Sligo 3-8; Longford 2-13 Fermanagh 0-7

Round 2: Next Sunday: Fermanagh v Warwickshire; Leitrim v Longford.

Round 3: Mar 5: Sligo v Fermanagh; Warwickshire v Leitrim

Round 4: Mar 12: Leitrim v Sligo; Longford v Warwickshire.

Round 5: Mar 26: Fermanagh v Leitrim; Sligo v Longford.

Final: Apr 1 /2: 1st v 2nd