HL previews: Promotion and relegation battles heat up

February 16, 2018

The third round of Allianz Hurling League games take place this weekend.
©INPHO/Morgan Treacy.

The Allianz Hurling League returns to action this weekend and here we preview all of the 17 games taking place in Round 3.

 

Saturday, February 17th

Allianz HL Division 1A round 3

Tipperary v Wexford, Semple Stadium, 7pm - eir sport 2

This one should get the weekend off to an exciting start in the top flight as Davy Fitzgerald's in-form Wexford side visit the home of hurling on Saturday night.

The Slayneysiders currently sit top of Division 1A thanks to a better score difference than Clare following wins over Waterford and Cork respectively.

Indeed it has been smooth sailing so far for Fitzgerald's charges in 2018 but the Banner native knows they face into their sternest test of the season thus in Tipp.

The Premier men are 2/5 favourites to pick up their second win of the campaign, having lost out to Clare in Round 1, and are likely to be pushed all the way for it when the 'Wexicans' come to Semple Stadium.

Verdict: Tipperary

Allianz HL Division 1B round 3

Limerick v Dublin, Gaelic Grounds, 7pm - eir sport 1

Limerick lead the promotion race on a better score difference (+27) than Galway (+10) after two rounds and Saturday night sees them welcoming Pat Gilroy's Dublin.

Darragh O'Donovan (broken finger) has been both ruled out for the hosts while the Dubs have a full deck to choose from after the break, barring their Cuala contingent.

There is some good news for Treaty boss John Kiely in that team captain Declan Hannon and Graeme Mulcahy have both recovered from their respective hamstring injuries in time for the Metropolitans' visit.

Verdict: Limerick

Laois v Antrim, O'Moore Park, 7pm

This one's a battle at the bottom and the losers will be looking at a fight to survive the dreaded drop with two more tough assignments to come.

Antrim will have counted themselves unlucky not to have taken anything away from Salthill on opening weekend, while their last outing against Dublin saw them going down by a mere point in Belfast.

The Saffrons may well make the breakthrough on Saturday night against a Laois side which has leaked 3-43 in the first two rounds.

Verdict: Antrim

Allianz HL Division 2A round 3

Meath v Westmeath, Trim, 2pm

This old rivalry comes to Trim on Saturday afternoon and, going on current form, it looks a very close one to call.

Both sides have enjoyed perfect starts and it's Meath whom are currently sitting top of Division 2A with a better score difference.

However, their neighbours get the nod in this one on the basis that they edged last May's championship meeting between the two counties.

Verdict: Westmeath
 

Sunday, February 18th

Allianz HL Division 1A round 3

Clare v Cork, Cusack Park, 2pm - TG4

Clare scored their first win at Nowlan Park in 16 years last time out and Sunday will see them looking to continue their impressive form when Cork come to Ennis.

In what is a repeat of last year's Munster final, the Banner men will head into this one looking to reverse the result, inflict the Rebels with their second defeat of the 
campaign and seal their third win in the process.

Clare had 10 different scorers against Kilkenny two weeks ago and still nearly managed to blow an 11-point lead. You can be sure the visitors won't give them that kind head start at Cusack Park on Sunday.

The Leesiders had the same margin win when they met the Cats in Round 1 and will want a marked improvement on their display against Wexford last time out.

Verdict: Clare

Waterford v Kilkenny, Walsh Park, 2pm

Points are imperative for these two at this stage of the campaign and the winners on Sunday will be plunging their opponents dangerously close to the drop.

Waterford's poorer score difference to Kilkenny currently sits in double figures but the bookmakers have last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists as favourites going into this one nonetheless.

When these two last met in a competitive fixture, it was the Deise men that claimed their first championship win over the Leinster kingpins in 58 years after extra time in Thurles.

The Cats clawed their way back after falling behind that day. Alan Murphy's 10 points helped them do likewise against Clare the last day before losing out by three and we're predicting a third defeat on the bounce here for Brian Cody's men.

Verdict: Waterford

Allianz HL Division 1B round 3

Galway v Offaly, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

Offaly boss Kevin Martin has pledged not to go defensive against Galway on Sunday, pointing out that it doesn't suit the Faithful men to go out and deploy a sweeper system.

The holders could well make them pay for that come Sunday afternoon as they look to improve on performances thus far while keeping up their winning ways in Division 1B.

The victories over Antrim and Laois thus far have been far from convincing for Micheál Donoghue side and Martin's men should be set to provide them with a tougher test to overcome this weekend.

Verdict: Galway

Allianz HL Division 2A round 3

London v Carlow, Ruislip, 1pm

One of a handful of early games on Sunday sees struggling London looking to book their first win of the campaign at Carlow's expense.

Two years ago the Exiles scored a 5-16 to 1-11 win at Newatch Cullen Park, but the Barrowsiders are in a different place compared to then and look good to pick up two more points here.

Verdict: Carlow

Kildare v Kerry, Newbridge, 2pm

Kildare are still looking for their first win two games in and are 7/2 outsiders for Kerry's visit to St Conleth's Park on Sunday.

A five-point win for the hosts would see them leapfrog the Kingdom in the Division 2A table and you get the feeling Joe Quaid's men would even happily take a one-point one before throw-in.

Verdict: Kerry

Allianz HL Division 2B round 3

Wicklow v Donegal, Aughrim, 1pm

Donegal make the long trip to Aughrim as 4/1 outsiders against a Wicklow side which were upset by Longford in last Sunday's Kehoe Cup final.

The Garden men will be looking to get things firmly back on track when their Ulster opponents come to visit this weekend and should do so.

Verdict: Wicklow

Derry v Mayo, Celtic Park, 12.30pm

Mayo are in the early hunt for promotion up to Division 2A and will look to keep their foot on the throttle when they head for Derry this weekend.

The Oak Leafers have struggled without some of their stars from last season and still have another month or so to wait until their Slaughtneil stars return.

Verdict: Mayo

Down v Armagh, Ballycran, 2pm

This derby's a battle between the top and bottom teams in the division after two rounds.

The odds side with Down for this one as opponents Armagh make the short trip to Ballycran as 9/4 underdogs to cause an upset and blow the division open.

Verdict: Down

Allianz HL Division 3A round 3

Monaghan v Tyrone, Inniskeen, 12.30pm

This one serves as a curtain raiser to the football clash between Monaghan and Kerry and - unlike that one - we're anticipating a Farney win when Tyrone come to Grattan Park.

Verdict: Monaghan

Roscommon v Longford, Dr Hyde Park, 12.30pm

Another derby and one that should see the Rossies remain unbeaten after three games in, bringing Longford back down to earth after their merited Kehoe Cup victory last weekend.

Verdict: Roscommon

Louth v Warwickshire, Darver, 1.30pm

Warwickshire are a point clear at the top of Division 3A and Sunday's trip to the Wee County should see the Exiles maintaining their 100 per cent record.

Verdict: Warwickshire

Allianz HL Division 3B round 3

Lancashire v Cavan, Jordanstown, 1pm

Lancashire's Ronan Crowley leads the Allianz League in scoring after two rounds with 2-27 and the Cork man should add a chunk more to that tally on Sunday against Cavan.

Verdict: Lancashire

Fermanagh v Leitrim, Irvinestown, 2pm

One last derby and the formbook is pointing towards Leitrim taking the spoils from Enniskillen against a Fermanagh side which are pointless after two rounds.

Verdict: Leitrim

 

You can follow all the action from the Allianz Hurling League on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon as it happens with our Live Match Tracker.



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