HL previews: Plenty to play for in final round

March 09, 2018

Wexford will look to make it four successive victories over Kilkenny in all competitions when they meet in their Allianz HL Division 1A clash at Nowlan Park on Sunday.

The fifth and final round of the Allianz Hurling League takes place a week later than initially scheduled and here we preview all 17 games down for decision across the country.


Saturday, March 10th

Allianz HL Division 2A round 5

London v Kildare, Ruislip, 1pm

This one's a battle at the bottom of the table and the losers will be hurling in Division 2B next season.

Kildare got trounced by Carlow last time out while London led Westmeath after 35 minutes before going down to the league-leaders. With home advantage, we expect the Exiles to book their first two points when the Lilywhites come to visit.

Verdict: London


Sunday, March 11th

Allianz HL Division 1A round 5

Kilkenny v Wexford, Nowlan Park, 2.30pm - TG4 (deferred)

Wexford have had Kilkenny's number as of late and, after ending Clare's 100 per cent record two weeks ago, Davy Fitzgerald's men will be keen continue their rich form and book their second win at Nowlan Park this season.

The Cats secured a precious one-point win over Tipperary last time out, extending their excellent home record against the Premier men over the past decade, and have been installed as 8/15 favourites for the Slayneysiders' visit on Sunday.

Speaking after the win over Tipp, Brian Cody was happy to see his team had put themselves "in a position where we can do something about it ourselves" and looking ahead cited the Model men as "a big challenge".

If it proves too much a challenge for the Cats then they could potentially be looking at another relegation battle but, with their Fitzgibbon Cup contingent returned, they're fancied to get the job done in Round 5.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium, 2.30pm

An injury-time point from Richie Leahy was all that separated Kilkenny and Tipperary last time out, but the latter are set to welcome back an array of college stars for Cork's visit this weekend.

Among them is Jason Forde, who has been one of the stars of the entire league campaign and the Rebels will need to nullify the Silvermines man's deadly threat first and foremost if they are to have any chance of lifting themselves off the foot of the Division 1A table.

The Munster champions got hit with a Waterford haymaker in Round 4, allowing the Deise men to leapfrog them in the table after booking their first win, and they'll be missing their captain Seamus Harnedy for Sunday.

The full-forward's sending off in the latter stages of the first-half at Pairc Ui Chaoimh rules him out for this weekend.

The stakes are higher for Cork in that a defeat would definitely see them in a relegation play-off and it's exactly how we picture this Munster derby going.

Verdict: Tipperary

Waterford v Clare, Walsh Park, 2.30pm

Like Cork, Waterford need a win here in order to lift themselves out of the drop zone but it could still come down to results elsewhere when all is said and done.

All that matters for Derek McGrath's charges on Sunday is that they pick up two points when Clare come to visit and, going by their last display against Cork, many fancy them to do so.

The Banner men shipped 0-20 to Wexford in their first defeat of the campaign last time out and they'll be looking at an all-round improved performance when they visit last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists.

Talisman Austin Gleeson and Pauric Mahony led the way for the Deise men against the Rebels in Round 4 and their influence could well end up being the difference again this weekend.

Verdict: Waterford

Allianz HL Division 1B round 5

Offaly v Antrim, Birr, 2.30pm

Antrim head for Birr this weekend looking for their first win of the campaign against an Offaly outfit which are 1/10 favourites to hand them a fifth defeat on the trot.

The Faithful men are safe from relegation after their five-point win over Laois in Tullamore, where Shane Dooley (0-10) and Joe Bergin (1-4) led the way for the hosts, and those two will be looking to continue their rich form when the Saffrons come to visit.

League-leaders Limerick crushed the Glensmen last time out and while the latter have been somewhat unlucky on a few occasions, they don't look like booking a first win here.

Verdict: Offaly

Laois v Dublin, O'Moore Park, 2.30pm

This one's a battle to beat the drop before things get really serious with a relegation play-off fixed between 5th and 6th in the table next weekend.

Laois currently sit above Dublin on score difference but that'll only come into play if Sunday's crunch meeting in Portlaoise should finish in a draw.

That's not what we're predicting as Pat Gilroy's side look like getting the job done after a decent display in defeat to holders Galway the last day.

Verdict: Dublin

Galway v Limerick, Pearse Stadium, 2.30pm - TG4

It's 'winner takes all' in Salthill on Sunday as Galway take on first-placed Limerick looking to leapfrog the Shannonsiders for promotion to Division 1A.

Both teams have won all their games in the division to date but it's the Munster side that lead the way on a superior difference, meaning that a draw in Round 5 will promote them.

The Tribesmen have been installed as 8/15 favourites and it should be an electric atmosphere at Pearse Stadium (weather-permitted), as these two face into their most important game of the campaign to date.

Verdict: Galway

Allianz HL Division 2A round 5

Westmeath v Kerry, TEG Cusack Park, 1pm

A win for Kerry could see these two meeting again for silverware and you can be sure that the Kingdom will be plenty up for it when they travel to Mullingar.

Westmeath sit top of the table with four wins from four and face a stern test this weekend in trying to maintain their 100 per cent record, especially when you consider the rich form of Kerry front men Jack Goulding and Shane Conway as of late.

Verdict: Kerry

Meath v Carlow, Trim, 1pm

Meath took a bit of a hiding from Kerry in Round 4 and it doesn't look like getting any easier for them in the fifth and final round as Carlow prepare to come to Navan.

The Barrowsiders need a victory to ensure themselves a berth in the Division 2A final and we're expecting marksman Martin Kavanagh to be the difference for them once more.

Verdict: Carlow

Allianz HL Division 2B round 5

Armagh v Donegal, Athletic Grounds, 2.30pm

Donegal scored an unexpected win over Down in Round 4 and will look to carry that momentum with them to the Athletic Grounds this weekend.

Armagh earned a good result themselves against Derry and will want two more points to keep themselves clear of a relegation play-off.

Verdict: Donegal

Down v Mayo, Portaferry, 2.30pm

This should be one hell of a battle at the top of the division as Down look to secure a final place which opponents Mayo have already guaranteed themselves.

The Mourne men were upset by Donegal in Round 4 and will be keen to bounce back from that in the best possible fashion with some extra incentive provided this weekend.

Verdict: Down

Wicklow v Derry, Bray Emmets, 2.30pm

This is a must-win for Wicklow if they are to have any chance of reaching a league final and they'll be hot favourites when Derry come to Aughrim.

The Oak Leafers have struggled to the point where they've lost all four of their league outings so far and don't look like denying the Garden men in the final round.

Verdict: Wicklow

Allianz HL Division 3A round 5

Roscommon v Warwickshire, Dr Hyde Park, 1pm

The Rossies need a win here to assure themselves a league final place so it should be a fascinating encounter when the top-placed Exiles come to 'the Hyde'.

Verdict: Roscommon

Monaghan v Louth, Castleblayney, 2pm

When these two met last year it was Monaghan that emerged two-point winners but Louth are in much better shape this time round to take the spoils from this derby in 'Blayney.

Verdict: Louth

Longford v Tyrone, Pearse Park, 2pm

Already relegated, Longford will be playing for pride when the Red Hands visit them on Sunday.

Verdict: Tyrone

Allianz HL Division 3B round 5

Leitrim v Cavan, Páirc Sean MacDiarmada, 2.30pm

Leitrim are already through to the Division 3B final against Lancashire and should add another pair of points when neighbours Cavan, who picked up their first win against Fermanagh last time out, make the trip to Carrick-on-Shannon.

Verdict: Leitrim

Fermanagh v Sligo, Brewster Park, 2.30pm

Both these teams head into the final round playing for pride and, going on form, Sligo should inflict Fermanagh with their fourth defeat of the campaign.

Verdict: Sligo


Follow all of Sunday's Allianz Hurling League final round action as it happens on our Live Match Tracker.

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