The 2019 All-Ireland senior hurling championship officially gets underway on Saturday evening with the clash of Kilkenny and Dublin at Nowlan Park. Here are our previews for the weekend’s four encounters.
Saturday, May 11th
Leinster SHC round 1
Kilkenny v Dublin, Nowlan Park, 7pm - Sky Sports
It seems Kilkenny’s injury list has grown longer by the week building up to this one, with All Star defender Joey Holden the latest casualty.
Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman joins goalkeeper Eoin Murphy, Conor Delaney, Cillian Buckley and James Maher on the treatment table for the Dubs’ visit to Nowlan Park on Saturday, while there are also question marks over the fitness of former ‘Hurler of the Year’ Richie Hogan.
Dublin themselves have encountered some injury issues ahead of their championship opener and they see both Mark Schutte and Paul Winters set to miss the entire provincial campaign.
Manager Mattie Kenny is also planning without Fionntan Mac Gib, Cian O'Callaghan and John Hetherton, but the recent returns of Liam Rushe and Conal Keaney could be what give his team the edge here.
Sunday, May 12th
Leinster SHC round 1
Galway v Carlow, Pearse Stadium, 3pm
When these two crossed swords in early February, it was Carlow that rose up to earn a shock draw with the Tribesmen in Division 1B of the National League.
The Barrowsiders are 50/1 to secure the same outcome in Salthill on Sunday and exactly half those odds to pull off the upset against the defending Leinster champions.
A groin injury sustained against Waterford in the league semi-finals means Joe Canning isn’t likely to see a minute of this provincial campaign, but there have been welcome boosts for Micheál Donoghue recently in form of the returns of Johnny Glynn from the US and Joseph Cooney from Australia.
Carlow boss Colm Bonnar has spoken of the “huge anticipation” within the county ahead of this summer’s championship, but it’s difficult to see them tearing up the script on their first assignment here.
Munster SHC round 1
Waterford v Clare, Walsh Park, 2pm – RTE
Another mouth-watering Munster championship gets underway this weekend and Sunday’s clash at Walsh Park is a fitting way to kick it all off.
A good start is key in the southern province and Waterford’s stars will know that better than most having finished bottom of the group table last year in the newly formatted championship.
The Deise men gave since seen new management come in, contested a National League final are the slight favourites ahead of their opponents’ visit on Sunday.
Peter Duggan was the top scorer in last year’s Liam MacCarthy Cup race with 3-76 to his name and Banner fans will hope that the Clooney-Quinn sharpshooter can be the difference again for them in what will be the first Munster championship games played at Walsh Park since 1996.
Cork v Tipperary, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 4pm – RTE
Pairc Ui Chaoimh will host the 87th championship meeting between Cork and Tipperary on Sunday, with Tipp edging the way in wins by 39-38.
There have also been eight games which ended in draws between these two rivals (with one match abandoned) and right now it’s a difficult one to call as the two gear up for another showdown at Leeside.
Last summer’s round robin clash ended in a 2-20 to 1-23 draw after the hosts had staged a huge comeback at Semple Stadium, but the margin isn’t expected to go out to nine points at any time on this occasion.
In the end, it could well come down to the shoot-out between Patrick Horgan and Seamus Callanan at opposite ends, which doesn’t really make it any easier to call given their calibre.
Be sure and keep up to date with all the action as it happens this weekend by following our live match tracker.Tweet