ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE
Tipperary v Wexford (Saturday, Semple Stadium, 7pm, live on eir Sport 2)
WITH Clare not playing until tomorrow, Wexford can move two points clear at the top of Division 1A should they leave Thurles with the points. Tipperary have made five changes for the game with goalkeeper Darragh Mooney, James Barry, Michael Cahill, Barry Heffernan and Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher coming into the team. The home side can build on their impressive win against Waterford last time out.
Odds: H: 2/5 D: 10/1 A: 5/2
Clare v Cork (Sunday, Cusack Park, 2pm, live on TG4)
CORK should be boosted by the return of their Kanturk contingent after their All-Ireland Intermediate exploits but Damien Cahalane will miss out through injury. Michael O’Malley and Niall Deasy come into the Clare team as they try to make it three wins from three after victories over Tipperary and Kilkenny.
Odds: H: 5/6 D: 17/2 A: 5/4
Waterford v Kilkenny (Sunday, Walsh Park, 2pm, deferred on TG4)
THESE two sides currently occupy the relegation play-off spots in Division 1A, so the need for points is strong. While Kilkenny have lost out by a goal in each of their fixtures, Waterford have looked slightly more off the pace. Deise manager Derek McGrath will hope that home advantage gets them off the mark, but Kilkenny have made a habit of winning pressure games.
Odds: H: 4/5 D: 8/1 A: 11/8
Limerick v Dublin (Saturday, Gaelic Grounds, 7pm, live on eir Sport 1)
LIMERICK have sailed through their games with Laois and Offaly but they will be expecting a tougher test tonight. Pat Gilroy’s side haven’t impressed thus far, losing heavily to the Faithful county and just sneaking past Antrim, but they are likely just moving up the gears and should be more tuned in tonight – although a win looks beyond them.
Odds: H: 2/9 D: 12/1 A: 7/2
Laois v Antrim (Saturday, Portlaoise, 7pm)
TWO great performances against Galway and Dublin but no points on the board for Antrim. They’ll hope to rectify that but they will be without the injured Ciaran Clarke. Like Antrim, Laois put in a good showing against the Tribesmen but they have lost a lot of players from last year.
Odds: H: 8/13 D: 9/1 A: 13/8
Galway v Offaly (Sunday, Pearse Stadium, 2pm)
GALWAY seem to have a bit of an All-Ireland hangover as they have been stuttering through games, but they’re still on four points. After a fine win over Dublin in round one, Offaly were easily beaten by Limerick.
Odds: H: 1/40 D: 33/1 A: 10/1
Meath v Westmeath (Saturday, Trim, 2pm)
MEATH have made a number of changes in attack for this top of the table derby, but Westmeath should still prove too strong for them.
Odds: H: 12/5 D: 10/1 A: 4/11
London v Carlow (Sunday, Ruislip, 1pm)
LONDON’S score difference sits at -30 after just two games and Carlow, who beat Kerry last time out, should take full advantage of their leaky defence.
Odds: H: 15/2 D: 20/1 A: 1/20
Kildare v Kerry (Sunday, Newbridge, 2pm)
KERRY boss Fintan O’Connor is a Kildare native and he will be hoping that his local knowledge can help the Kingdom leave St Conleth’s Park with the points. Key forward Mikey Boyle will return from a knee injury and the visitors should pick up their second win.
Odds: H: 7/2 D: 11/1 A: 2/9
Down v Armagh (Sunday, Ballycran, 2pm)
THE Down hurlers can move one step closer to promotion and also gain a degree of revenge when they host rivals Armagh tomorrow, writes Sean Mahoney.
The Orchard hurlers have been Down's bogey side in recent seasons as they have won two Ulster Championship semi-finals and the 2016 2B promotion play-off. The mood has shifted though and Down enter the match looking to make it three wins from three while Armagh are currently pointless.
Armagh ’keeper Simon Doherty, now in is ninth season with the Orchard hurlers, know just how difficult it will be.
“It is a game we are looking forward to and we know Down will be looking revenge, especially in their own back yard,” he said.
“But we are looking forward to it, and we look forward to taking Down on every time. It doesn't matter what competition or code it is, when Armagh play Down it always creates excitement and we will lift our game.”
Down enjoyed a fine 2-17 to 1-14 win over Derry in Celtic Park to get their National League season off on the right foot and they followed this up with a emphatic 1-24 to 0-16 win over Wicklow in their favourite hunting ground, Ballycran.
Armagh are finding life difficult without former manager Sylvester McConnell and they are still looking their first point under new boss Paddy Kelly.
The former Meath manager has given youth a chance this season, somewhat forced by Middletown's involvement in the Intermediate Club All-Ireland series.
However, Kelly should some of those players back on Sunday, including their talisman Cahal Carvill and Kieran McKiernan while Peter Kearney looks set to return from injury.
And despite Armagh’s continued search for their first win, Doherty insists that the mood in his camp is good.
“Everything we have done under new manager Paddy Kelly has been very positive and he has gotten to know all the players that were available from November.
“We are confident that we can pick up some points over the next few games and even though we have yet to win, we know that with competition for places increasing, we are heading in the right direction.”
Armagh have a mini Ulster Championship to finish their campaign with games against Derry and Donegal to come.
Marty Mallon has his Down team playing impressive hurling with players such as Eoghan Sands, Danny Toner, Paul Sheehan, Pearse Og McCrickard and Rian Brannigan impressing and a win against Armagh would set them on their way to a top of the table clash against Mayo.
Odds: H: 4/11 D: 10/1 A: 9/4
Derry v Mayo (Sunday, Celtic Park, 12.30pm)
DERRY may have one or two of Slaughtneil’s non-dual contingent back, and they will need all the help they can get after losing their first two fixtures. Mayo, by contrast, have been flying and should maintain their 100 percent record.
Odds: H: 3/1 D: 11/1 A: 1/4
Wicklow v Donegal (Sunday, Aughrim ,1pm)
DONEGAL should be buoyant after they dismantled Derry last time out but even though Wicklow suffered a heavy loss against Down, this should be a step too far, especially away from home.
Odds: H: 1/6 D: 12/1 A: 4/1
Roscommon v Longford (Sunday, Dr Hyde Park, 12.30pm)
LONGFORD sit bottom with two losses from two and this should prove to be a routine day’s work for Roscommon.
Monaghan v Tyrone (Sunday, Inniskeen, 12.30pm)
TYRONE’S optimism was deflated with defeats against Warwickshire and Louth and it’s Monaghan who have it all to play for here.
Louth v Warwickshire (Sunday, Darver, 1.30pm)
Liam Watson may not be with Warwickshire currently but another Antrim native, Niall McKenna, has stood up in his absence. They can record an important away win in Darver.
Lancashire v Cavan (Sunday, Jordanstown, 1pm)
CAVAN’S search for their first league points since returning to National League action will have to go on as they are unlikely to get any joy against table-toppers Lancashire.
Fermanagh v Leitrim (Sunday, Bawnacre Centre, 2pm)
FERMANAGH have lost a host of key players this year and they were well beaten by Lancashire in their first game. There could be a kickback here thought.