Hurling & Camogie

Limerick and Tipp top the Saturday bill in Allianz Hurling League

Both sides take 100 per cent records into the televised clash at Páirc Ui Chaoimh

Aaron Gillane
Aaron Gillane Limerick’s Aaron Gillane is in line for his first start of the League campaign against Tipperary this evening. Picture: Seamus Loughran (seamus loughran)



Division One Group B

Westmeath v Antrim (TEG Cusack Park, 3.30pm)

Odds H: 6/5 D: 8/1 A: 5/6

Verdict Antrim

Limerick v Tipperary (SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 7.35pm, live on RTÉ2)

WHEN Dublin were at their pomp under Jim Gavin, often the reason behind sustained success boiled down to competition for places.

This Limerick side are equally camera shy in terms of what is said in the media. A fly-on-the-wall documentary would be absolutely fascinating. Perhaps a Netflix deal is the next big thing in the GAA.

Back in the here and now, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh and Shane O’Brien are the Adam Englishs and Cathal O’Neills of 2024. The production line keeps on rolling.

If this Limerick team aren’t the most skilful side of all time, they’re bound to be right up there. It’s impossible to envisage a GAA side of any sort that have been more physically imposing.

Pace, fleet of foot, evasion, touch, but above all courage and heart. For years now, sides have geared themselves up for a shot at the best, trying to knock them off their perch.

Each and every time, the opposition have been outscored, outplayed and dominated both technically and physically. So much so, you would question how they could ever be beaten.

It’s interesting too that their trajectory has followed that of Dublin in a sense. The breakthrough year immediately followed by a defeat no-one saw coming.

For Dublin it was Donegal and for Limerick it was Kilkenny. Both were semi-finals. Both Kilkenny and Donegal unravelled on the biggest day.

Both Dublin and Limerick refused to forget those defeats. They drew on them, used them to ensure it could not and would not happen again.

And that’s a lot of the reason one is inclined to back The Treaty without hesitation this weekend, in spite of the fact they meet bitter rivals Tipperary, a side who themselves are unbeaten.

Jake Morris’ return from an injury suffered against Galway is crucial to The Premier’s chances of success, while Bryan O’Mara is fit enough to take a position on the bench.

Midfielder Paddy Cadell of JK Brackens will have to get up to the pace of it fairly quickly in his first appearance of 2024, as his side face the challenge of keeping O’Dálaigh, skipper Cian Lynch, Aaron Gillane and Peter Casey quiet, all of whom start.

Odds H: 4/9 D: 9/1 A: 9/4

Verdict Limerick

Division 2A

Kildare v Kerry (Manguard Park, 2pm)

Odds H: 13/8 D: 9/1 A: 8/13

Verdict Kerry

Division 3A

Cavan v Armagh (Kingspan Breffni, 2pm)

Odds H: 6/4 D: 9/1 A: 8/13

Verdict Armagh

Division 3B

Fermanagh v Lancashire (Brewster Park, 1pm)

HAVING won their opening two matches by a combined 32 points, it is little surprise that Fermanagh will stroll onto the pitch in Enniskillen as favourites this afternoon.

Lancashire, although second bottom in Division 3B, are not the type to roll over, however. A hugely impressive Lory Meagher campaign last summer culminated in a two-point defeat against Monaghan in Croke Park.

The English side are incredibly physical, and have no qualms about striking for goal from distance.

Erne manager Joe Baldwin has been continuing his recuperation from a stroke, and should his determination seep into his players’ minds, they may well achieve his ambitious target of a Division 3B title and Lory Meagher success this summer.

Odds H: 1/10 D 16/1 A: 6/1

Verdict Fermanagh

Longford v Leitrim (Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 2pm)

Odds (Paddy Power) H: 8/15 D: 9/1 A: 13/8

Verdict Longford


Division One, Group A

Offaly v Cork (Glenisk O’Connor Park, 1.15pm, live on Sport TG4, deferred coverage on TG4)

A COMPREHENSIVE defeat to Waterford on the opening weekend wouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to anyone, but Offaly have shown signs of real improvement ever since.

Leading Kilkenny at half-time in Nowlan Park is no mean feat, and although they succumbed to a second-half onslaught from the Cats, they had eight different scorers, including three of their back-seven.

A draw with Wexford could well have been a win, but even so, a shock victory this weekend could see them leapfrog both Cork and Waterford in the table.

That would leave the Rebels in a bit of trouble, as they would face a six-day turnaround before a crucial fixture with Wexford.

With Cork having beaten The Faithful in the 2023 U20 All-Ireland final, there is young talent on either side, with Offaly’s Brian Duignan (son of Michael) and Adam Screeney particularly impressive.

Mark Coleman’s absence is huge for Cork, but with Darragh Fitzgibbon back, they should get the job done.

Odds H: 8/1 D: 14/1 A: 1/16

Verdict Cork

Clare v Kilkenny (Cusack Park,1.30pm, live on TG4)

EARLIER this week, Crossmaglen’s Aaron Kernan spoke of how little respect his side of 2002 were shown when they met Tyrone in a League match in 2003.

There was no guard of honour before throw-in, and there was no quarter given after. Tyrone won that day, and we all know what happened that September.

Clare right now look best placed to knock Limerick off their perch, but if they truly believe they are to lift the Liam McCarthy this summer, they must start laying down markers.

All-Ireland semi-final opponents in the past two seasons, Kilkenny cruised to victory in 2022, with only a goal and a quite ridiculous save from Eoin Murphy separating the sides in their last meeting.

This time Clare are without Tony Kelly, but that cannot be used as an excuse. Lose here and Brian Lohan’s men may suffer mentallty in the long-term against the Cats.

Odds H: 8/11 D: 8/1 A: 11/8

Verdict Clare

Waterford v Wexford (Walsh Park, 3.30pm, live on TG4)

GAA Stats on X makes it 45 years since a side drew their opening three matches of an NHL campaign.

Wexford didn’t begin this campaign with aspirations of draws or comparisons to the Wicklow side of 1979, but by hook or by crook, that’s where they find themselves.

A win over Davy Fitzgerald’s Waterford this weekend and they remain unbeaten. A defeat and they’ll be without a League win in 2024.

Free-taker Séamus Casey has eased the burden on talisman Lee Chin, who went off with a minor knee injury the last day out against Clare. Keith Rossiter’s words after the final whistle were encouraging, and one would expect Chin to come back into the fold.

Waterford were much improved against Cork, although three late scores put a little gloss over the two-point defeat, and it was yet another loss to a Munster rival having had disastrous luck in the province in recent summers.

Full-forward Seán Walsh has an incredibly keen eye for goal, but Wexford should overturn the hosts here, who are without Austin Gleeson in 2024, while Dessie Hutchinson has yet to register a minute of League action.

Odds H: 8/15 D: 8/1 A: 15/8

Verdict Wexford

Division One, Group B

Galway v Dublin (Pearse Stadium, 1.30pm)

THE big news in Galway, both metaphorically and anatomically, has been the return of All-Ireland winner Johnny Glynn, following a stint with the New York footballers.

Neil McManus described him this week as “an absolute wrecking ball”, but it will be interesting to see if Galway deploy him right on the square or withdraw him as more of a puck-out option.

Former Galway boss Micháel Donoghue remains in the capital, and intriguingly it’s five years since these sides met in the League. Galway won on that occasion, with Donoghue as manager, before falling to the Dubs in the Championship.

And Dublin have continued to be a bogey side for the Tribesmen into Henry Shefflin’s reign. Last summer a 2-22 to 1-25 draw saw the 2017 All-Ireland champions salvage a replay from 12 points down.

Tom Monaghan has been a shining light in 2024, while Cian O’Sullivan has lit up Dublin’s campaign.

With home advantage, you’d expect Galway to get by in a tight affair.

Odds H: 1/9 D: 14/1 A: 13/2

Verdict Galway

Division 2A (2pm)

Carlow v Down (Netwatch Cullen Park)

Odds H: 1/8 D:12/1 A: 6/1

Verdict Carlow

Meath v Laois (Páirc Tailteann)

Odds H: 11/2 D: 14/1 A: 1/10

Verdict Laois

Division 2B (1pm)

London v Tyrone (Ruislip)

Odds H: 5/6 D: 8/1 A: 6/5

Verdict Tyrone

Roscommon v Donegal (Dr Hyde Park)

Odds H: 3/1 D: 10/1 A: 2/7

Verdict Donegal

Wicklow v Derry (Aughrim)

DERRY manager Johnny McGarvey isn’t the kind for making excuses. Last year, he took his current post four weeks before the League started.

Shorn of a full 14 players from 2022, Derry made a right fist of it before losing out to Down in Ballycran and being confirmed for the drop.

Having bled a number of U20 stars and adding Christy McNaughton of Cushendall to the panel last year, the aim for the Oak Leafers is nothing other than promotion. McGarvey has made that quite clear.

And their three fixtures so far have shown that ambition, swatting Tyrone, Donegal and London aside by a combined 26 points.

This weekend’s opponents Wicklow currently prop up Division 2B, and they will be wary of in-form corner-forward Dara Mooney amongst others.

With the likes of McNaughton to come in off the bench, it looks like mission improbable for the Garden county to add to their solitary point so far, earned in a draw at home to Roscommon a fortnight ago.

Derry look primed to record a comfortable win, having shot 1-27 the last day out.

Odds H: 15/2 D: 20/1 A: 1/20 (Paddy Power)

Verdict Derry

Division 3A (2pm)

Mayo v Louth (Hastings Insurance MacHale Park)

Odds H: 1/16 D: 16/1 A: 15/2

Verdict Mayo

Sligo v Monaghan (Markiewicz Park)

HAVING earned a surprise win over Armagh the last day out, Monaghan will be confident they can make a good account of themselves, even as heavy underdogs.

Leo Moloney is a young gun making a name for himself, while corner-forward Thomas Hughes has went from strength to strength off the back of a season that saw him win both a Lory Meagher Cup and an Ulster Club junior title.

Sligo are under the stewardship of Carlow man Stephen Sheil, who has used his roots to rope former Ireland rugby star and RTÉ analyst Bernard Jackman in as a consultant.

They should have enough to win by five or six here.

Odds H: 1/6 D: 14/1 A: 9/2

Verdict Sligo

odds from unless stated