HL previews: Holders to battle All-Ireland champions

February 15, 2019

Limerick fans celebrate with Hurling Banter Snapchat Sensation Buff Egan after their side's All-Ireland SHC quarter-final victory over Kilkenny at Semple Stadium, Thurles.
©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.

It’s Round 3 of the Allianz Hurling League this weekend and here we make our predictions for all 17 games down for decision.


Saturday, February 16th

Allianz HL Division 1A round 3

Cork v Clare, Pairc Ui Rinn, 7.15pm - eir sport 1/RTÉ

This Munster derby hits Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday night and it’s a difficult one to call right off the bat.

Cork are bottom of Division 1A two rounds in following a second-half collapse against Kilkenny and a surprise loss to Wexford at home and are in need of points quickly if they are to earn themselves a quarter-final place next month.

The Rebels are without promising young attacker Declan Dalton for the remainder of the league after the Fr O’Neills sharpshooter recently underwent a knee operation and it’s just another setback for John Meyler’s men, having also lost the use of Pairc Ui Chaoimh for matches until the summer at least.

Clare are travelling to Pairc Ui Rinn this weekend as slight favourites after pipping the Cats by the minimum last time out and get the nod to edge the second victory of their campaign here.

Verdict: Clare

Allianz HL Division 1B round 3

Laois v Offaly, O'Moore Park, 7pm

Laois boss Eddie Brennan will be keen for his side to pick up points fast after losing their opening two rounds.

The O’Moore men couldn’t have asked for a more testing start than having to face up against Galway and Waterford in their first two games, but they’ll still be coming up against an Offaly side on Saturday night that are below them on score difference.

It makes this clash in Portlaoise crucial for both sides with just two more rounds to go, as relegation will loom a lot larger for the losers when all’s said and done in Portlaoise.

Verdict: Laois

Waterford v Carlow, Fraher Field, 7pm

Carlow’s remarkable draw against Galway in Round 2 has given Waterford the upper hand in the race between the two outlying promotion favourites.

Now the Barrowsiders travel to Dungarvan looking to repeat another five-star display against one of two powerhouses operating in this section.

The Deise men have welcomed back big guns Austin Gleeson and Jamie Barron for this encounter and, that considered, should get the job done while also getting firmly tested.

Verdict: Waterford

Allianz HL Division 3A round 3

Lancashire v Louth, Abbottstown, 1.30pm

Both of these sides have lost out heavily to high-flying Tyrone so far and it’s the Wee County that get the nod given their slightly better scoring return over the 70 minutes against the Red Hands.

Verdict: Louth

Sunday, February 17th

Allianz HL Division 1A round 3

Kilkenny v Limerick, Nowlan Park, 2pm - TG4

The holders welcome the All-Ireland champions to Nowlan Park and neutrals watching will be hoping for a real cracker to unfold on Sunday afternoon.

After their thrashing of Liam Sheedy’s Tipperary the last day, Limerick are the slight favourites for this one with the bookmakers (5/6) and Kilkenny icon Brian Cody has accepted this week that his charges will “be playing the best team in the country”.

Treaty County sharpshooter Aaron Gillane had another fine outing in mid-week by notching 1-12 in Mary Immaculate College’s Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final victory over NUIG and his involvement for this weekend remains to be seen ahead of Saturday week’s final against favourites UCC.

As for the Cats, Kevin Kelly leads the way for them in the scoring stakes with 1-19 so far and they’ll be keen to bounce back from Round 2’s narrow loss to Clare after making the perfect start against Cork.

Verdict: Draw

Wexford v Tipperary, Innovate Wexford Park, 2pm - TG4 (deferred)

Liam Sheedy’s perfect start with Tipperary this season hit a stumbling block in Round 2 when the Premier men went down to Limerick by seven points.

Tipp will look to bounce back from that defeat on Sunday when they visit Innovate Wexford Park, where Davy Fitzgerald’s Slaneysiders will be out to replicate their surprise four-point win over Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Jack O’Connor, Cathal Dunbar and David Dunne were the Rebels’ chief tormentors that day and Tipp’s defence will be keeping a close eye on that trio in particular, as they look to get the home crowd vocal early on Sunday afternoon.

At the other end, Seamus Callanan will be the priority concern for the Model men’s defence and his lethal aerial threat gets the Munster side the nod here.

Verdict: Tipperary

Allianz HL Division 1B round 3

Galway v Dublin, Pearse Stadium, 2pm - TG4 (deferred)

East meets west in Salthill on Sunday as Galway look to leapfrog Dublin in Division 1B by keeping things to script on their home turf.

The Tribesmen were stunned on their last assignment against Carlow after the Barrowsiders fashioned a remarkable draw against them and will no doubt be looking to lay down a marker in Round 3.

Dubs boss Mattie Kenny will plot against his home county for the second time this year, having lost out to them in last month’s Walsh Cup final, and his team will need to produce something special on the country’s west coast to do so.

Verdict: Galway

Allianz HL Division 2A round 3

Meath v London, Trim, 1pm

These two find themselves in early relegation bother after two rounds and defeat in Trim on Sunday would really leave things grim.

Meath have a point after two games while London are on zero after having played one and, with home advantage in their favour, the Royals should edge matters here in a bid to head up the table.

Verdict: Meath

Kerry v Mayo, Austin Stack Park, 1pm

Kerry need a win here to keep the heat on Westmeath at the top of Division 2B and are 1/5 favourites to do so in Tralee on Sunday.

Mayo earned a draw with Meath the first day but it’s difficult to see the Westerners taking anything from the Kingdom this weekend.

Verdict: Kerry

Antrim v Westmeath, Corrigan Park, 2pm

Antrim hit three goals to edge past Meath the last day and face an in-form Westmeath outfit on Sunday which will be confident of taking both points from Belfast.

The Lake men have hit a combined tally of 6-30 in their first two outings against London and Kerry respectively and the Saffrons may find that kind of firepower difficult to contain, even on home turf.

Verdict: Westmeath

Allianz HL Division 2B round 3

Warwickshire v Down, Pairc na hEireann, 1.15pm

Down head across the water this weekend looking for their second win of the campaign and are 1/20 favourites to do so against struggling Warwickshire.

The Exiles conceded a whopping 8-19 to Kildare in Round 2 and the Mourne men look like piling on the misery in Birmingham on Sunday.

Verdict: Down

Donegal v Wicklow, Letterkenny, 2pm

Wicklow make the long journey up to Letterkenny for Round 3 in a bid to collect their second win of the campaign and face a tricky assignment against Donegal.

The Tir Chonaill men were hammered by neighbours Derry the last day after running league leaders Kildare relatively close in Round 1, and will be surely eager to get off the mark when the Garden men come to visit.

Verdict: Wicklow

Kildare v Derry, Newbridge, 2pm

This is a tight one to call as these sides are two from two so far, winning their last respective outings in huge comfort.

Kildare boss David Herity will see this one as the key game of their season so far and, with home advantage, they should get the job done against Derry.

Verdict: Kildare

Allianz HL Division 3A round 3

Armagh v Roscommon, Athletic Grounds, 2pm

There’s nothing but four points in scoring difference between these two on the Division 3A table and the margin on the scoreboard may well be closer than that come the final whistle at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday.

Verdict: Armagh

Tyrone v Monaghan, Healy Park, 2pm

Tyrone haven’t had a bump in the road yet after two rounds and should keep their red-hot form going when neighbours Monaghan pay a visit to Omagh on Sunday.

Verdict: Tyrone

Allianz HL Division 3B round 3

Longford v Leitrim, Pearse Park, 2pm

Longford need to win here to keep the pressure on Sligo at the top of the table and should be able to get over their neighbours at Pearse Park.

Verdict: Longford

Sligo v Cavan, Kent Park, 2pm

Tony O'Kelly-Lynch and Gary Cadden have been the marksmen for Sligo so far this season and should cause the Cavan defence plenty of problems on Sunday as they look to remain at the summit of Division 3B.

Verdict: Sligo

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