Hurling previews: Tipp aim for 20th league title
21 April 2017
Tipperary supporters celebrate after their side score a goal during the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final against Galway at Croke Park.
It’s a busy schedule of hurling this weekend with Galway and Tipperary facing off in Sunday’s Allianz League Division 1 final. Here we preview all 13 games down for decision.
Saturday, April 24th
Christy Ring Cup round 1
Mayo v Kildare, Ballina, 3pm
Kildare head for James Stephens Park on Saturday looking to get their Christy Ring Cup campaign off to a winning start against Mayo.
The Lilywhites enjoyed a decent league campaign, earning seven points from five games for a third-place finish in Division 2A, and will be favourites to get a win here.
Mayo struggled in the division below, losing in four of their outings, and it’s hard to envisage them upsetting Joe Quaid’s charges this weekend.
Carlow v Antrim, Netwatch Cullen Park, 3pm
This should be an intriguing battle at Netwatch Cullen Park with the two competition favourites colliding on Carlow’s home turf.
Antrim edged the Barrowsiders in a thrilling Division 2A final at Pairc Esler at the start of the month, which adds a bit more spice to this meeting.
Neil McManus and Eoghan Campbell did the damage for the Glensmen up in Newry and their opponents will need to reduce their influence if they are to avoid back-to-back defeats.
Down v Roscommon, Ballycran, 1pm
When these two sides met in the league back in February it was Down that came away with the five-point victory in Ballycran.
The two meet at the same venue again on Saturday and it’s hard to sees the Rossies springing a surprise against the hosts, who looked good in patches these past few months.
Danny Toner’s form for the Mourne men was red-hot throughout the league and their deadly accurate captain could well end up being the difference again here.
Nicky Rackard Cup round 1
Louth v Derry, Dowdallshill, 3pm
Derry head for Dowdallshill on Saturday as strong favourites to get their Nicky Rackard Cup off to a winning start against Louth.
The Oak Leafers earned two wins in Division 2B while the Wee County are still awaiting their first competitive victory of the year, having lost all six games in Division 3A on route to relegation.
Monaghan v Tyrone, Castleblayney, 3pm
When these sides met last month Tyrone inflicted Monaghan with a 3-15 to 1-14 defeat at Cloghan and the two are scheduled for a rematch this Saturday in Inniskeen.
Damien Casey has been the Red Hands’ leading scorer so far this year and the Dungannon man will be key if they are to repeat the trick over their Ulster rivals this weekend.
Donegal v Armagh, Letterkenny, 1pm
Donegal handed Down a walkover in the Ulster championship at the weekend with one eye on this Saturday’s clash against Armagh.
The Orchard men operated two divisions above Ardal McDermott’s side in the league and should have enough to book a first round win in Letterkenny.
Lory Meagher Cup round 1
Sligo v Lancashire, Markievicz Park, 12.30pm
With Keith Raymond on form, Sligo should have plenty in the tank to secure a win against the visiting Exiles this weekend.
Cavan v Warwickshire, Kingspan Breffni Park, 2pm
After a six-year exile from the senior hurling stage, Cavan are set to make their Lory Meagher Cup return this weekend for the first time since 2009 against a Warwickshire side which have former Antrim sharpshooter Liam Watson in their ranks.
Fermanagh v Leitrim, Brewster Park, 3pm
The league campaign was a struggle for these two and one would imagine there won’t be much separating them when all’s said and done in Enniskillen.
Sunday, April 23rd
Allianz HL Division 1 final
Tipperary v Galway, Gaelic Grounds, 3.30pm
All roads lead to Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds on Sunday as Tipperary take on Galway in the Allianz League Division 1 final.
Much of the talk ahead of this one has been around Tipp marksman Seamus Callanan, who looks set to play no part this weekend after breaking his thumb during their facile semi-final win over Wexford on Easter Sunday.
Nonetheless, the All-Ireland champions are 4/7 favourites to add another trophy to their cabinet this Sunday with so much firepower in their ranks, including the lethal John McGrath – scorer of 10 goals in his last nine outings for the Premier County.
Galway are bidding for their first Division 1 title since 2010, when they defeated Cork for their ninth crown, and some punters will fancy the Tribesmen at 2/1 as the form of Joe Canning, Cathal Mannion and Conor Cooney against Limerick the last day offers plenty of encouragement for the Connacht men.
Tipp are the traditional kings of this competition and if things stay according to script on Sunday they’ll have earned their 20th title in the top flight, pulling them three clear of nearest rivals Kilkenny.
Leinster SHC round 1
Meath v Kerry, Pairc Tailteann, 3pm
Going on league form an upset could be on the cards in this one but let’s not forget that Kerry operated two divisions above Meath these past couple of months.
The Kingdom were relegated from Division 1B after losing in a play-off to Laois whereas the Royals made promotion from Division 2B look easy, having hammered Wicklow in the final.
The Leinster men will have home advantage to boot this weekend but the calibre of opposition their Munster counterparts have faced in the build-up to this one could be what stands to them on Sunday.
Laois v Westmeath, O'Moore Park, 3pm
Laois talisman Stephen Maher is thought to be a major doubt for this one with a hamstring injury and it’s just one of a number of headaches for manager Eamonn Kelly.
The O’Moore boss has injury concerns over Matthew Whelan, Ryan Mullaney, John Lennon, Cha Dwyer, Leigh Bergin and Podge Lawlor for Westmeath’s visit, with the Lake men still ranked as 15/8 outsiders.
Michael Ryan’s men were hit and miss during the league but the potential major loss of marksman man Maher for their opponents could see them spring an upset.
Christy Ring Cup round 1
Wicklow v London, Aughrim, 1pm
Wicklow welcome London to Aughrim on Sunday and the hosts will be looking to make amends for a poor finish to their Division 2B league campaign earlier this month.
Seamus Murphy's charges suffered two heavy defeats to Meath in the last round and in the league final having won their opening four games while London could only manage one point from five outings in Division 2A.
However, Fergus McMahon's Exiles are given the nod for a winning start to the championship.