ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE ROUND ONE
DIVISION ONE GROUP A
Wexford v Galway (Chadwicks Wexford Park, 5pm, live on TG4)
Wexford were one of the teams of the year throughout the League in 2022, winning all five of their group games before crashing out at the semi-final stage to Waterford. Galway had a mixed campaign but fared much better come the business end of the season. Henry Shefflin (right) guided them to a Leinster final, although Wexford were the only team to take a point off them during the group stages.
This game has doubled up with the Walsh Cup final, so not only are there two important points at stake, but also the first piece of silverware of the season.
Odds: H: 3/2 D: 8/1 A: 2/3
Cork v Limerick (Páirc Ui Chaoimh, 7.30pm, live on RTÉ2)
WHEN are Limerick going to slow down? During the League last year, it looked like the great Limerick side were beginning to cool off, but in truth, they were just warming up.
John Kiely’s men won just once throughout the entire campaign, convincingly blasting past Offaly in the final round, but stormed to another All-Ireland title by the time the season came to a close.
Cork tasted victory over their Munster rivals in the League but when it came to the provincial championship, Limerick were back on top. It’s hard to know where Limerick are right now but if they’re at full strength they’ll gain the upper hand.
Odds: H: 5/4 D: 8/1 A: 4/5
DIVISION ONE GROUP B
Antrim v Kilkenny (Corrigan Park, 2pm, live on BBC iPlayer & GAAGO)
Odds: H: 13/2 D: 14/1 A: 1/10
Tipperary v Laois
(FBD Semple Stadium, 5pm)
LAOIS held onto their Division One status by the skin of their teeth last season, with a one-point round four win over Antrim proving their only success. They shipped heavy defeats to the likes of Waterford and Kilkenny but served up a competitive encounter with Tipperary in round one. Jason Forde fired over 0-11 to see the Premier county through and they’ll be expecting another difficult task today.
Liam Cahill will be keen to get his managerial career with his native county off to a good start and a home draw against Laois is the perfect opportunity to do that.
Odds: H: 1/50 D: 33/1 A: 10/1
Carlow v Kildare
(Netwatch Cullen Park, 2pm)
Odds: H: 11/8 D: 8/1 A: 8/11
Derry v Kerry (Celtic Park, 2pm)
Odds: H: 6/1 D: 14/1 A: 1/10
Meath v Wicklow (Pairc Tailteann, 2pm)
Odds: H: 2/7 D: 10/1 A: 11/4
Donegal v Sligo (Letterkenny, 2pm)
IT may be only their first game, but two points are vital to Donegal as they host Sligo today writes Gerry McLaughlin.
Mickey McCann’s men are in a real group of death with Meath, Wicklow, London and Tyrone, and there is no doubt that McCann will have targeted this as a virtually must-win affair.
Donegal were due to play UU in the final of the Conor McGurk Cup, but that has now been deferred to February 7 at the Dub.
Veteran Declan Coulter says the county’s entire focus is now on Sligo who will have 10 or 11 starters from the Easkey side who played in the All-Ireland JHC final recently.
“We are well aware of the quality and the big threat that Sligo will pose,” Coulter said.
“Last year, they came to O’Donnell Park in a play-off to get into the Division 2B final against Derry and they made a great comeback in the second half and beat us by 1-20 to 1-9. They are a big strong physical young team and are very good hurlers.
“It was a very physical encounter, and they are very athletic as well and they are very youthful and hopefully we can bring our A game.’’
Sligo have 12 starters under the age of 24, but Donegal have five big strong young, physical lads who altered the shape and dynamic of the team over the past few years.
“Conor Gartland and Liam McKinney of Burt are becoming immense figures who are making the breakthrough,” Coulter said.
Steven McBride, Oisin Marley and Shaun Ward from Setanta also bring considerable power and panache to the set-up.
Odds: H: 8/11 D: 8/1 A: 5/4
Tyrone v London (Dungannon, 7pm)
LIFE in Division 2B begins for Tyrone this evening as they host London under the floodlights at Eoghan Ruadh, Dungannon writes Francis Mooney.
It will be a poignant occasion at the home ground of the late Damian Casey, the Red Hands’ first game without their brilliant attacker in more than a decade.
Manager Michael McShane believes Damian will be the ‘silent driving force’ for his side tonight and in the season ahead.
“He was a very proud Tyrone hurling man and he wanted Tyrone hurling to be in the best possible place it could be.
“That’s probably the silent driving force for everybody – players and management,” said McShane.
Conor Grogan, Chris Kearns, Dermot Begley, Lorcan Devlin and Ruairi Slane will be key men for the newly promoted Division 3A and Nickey Rackard Cup champions in the first test of their ability to compete at a higher level.
McShane has been encouraged by the preparations made by a committed squad of players during pre-season.
“We have been working hard since the end of November, putting our panel together for the National League, and we have had a great buy-in, and we’re delighted with the way things are going.”
Odds: H: 2/1 D: 8/1 A: 2/5
Louth v Armagh (Darver, 1pm)
Armagh have won the last two League meetings between these sides by a single point, and today’s clash could similarly go down to the wire. Led by former Armagh captain Paul McCormack, Louth offer a stiff challenge, but one the Orchard county should surpass.
Odds: H: 7/4 D: 9/1 A: 1/2
Monaghan v Fermanagh
(St Tiernach’s Park, 2pm)
Fermanagh are the new boys in Division 3A having claimed promotion last season and could be a team to watch throughout the campaign.
Odds: H: 5/2 D: 10/1 A: 1/3
Mayo v Roscommon (Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, 2pm)
Odds: H: 1/1 D: 8/1 A: 10/11
Longford v Cavan (Glennon Bros Pearse Park, 2pm)
THINGS can only get better for Cavan, who experienced a winless 2022 League campaign, but this is a difficult start for them.
Odds: H: 1/4 D: 11/1 A: 3/1
Warwickshire v Leitrim
Odds: H: 11/8 D: 8/1 A: 2/3
DIVISION ONE GROUP A
Clare v Westmeath (Cusack Park, 2pm)
Westmeath enjoyed a hugely successful League campaign in 2022, defeating Down in the Division 2A final to gain promotion to the top tier. They’ll be keen to deep their feet in the water and not only remain in the division, but to be competitive as well.
Clare are a seasoned top team at this stage, and proved their quality throughout the Championship last season, finishing top of the group in Munster.
Westmeath may have preferred a home game to get them up and running and it will be interesting to see how they deal with the step up in class.
Odds: H: 1/50 D: 33/1 A: 10/1
DIVISION ONE GROUP B
Waterford v Dublin
(Fraher Field, 2.30pm, live on TG4 App; deferred coverage on TG4)
Waterford had an up-and-down 2022 and the main objective for Davy Fitzgerald heading into the new season will be to find a level of consistency. They won the League, beating Cork easily in the final, but all that momentum came crashing down come the Championship as they finished second from bottom of the group.
Likewise, Dublin didn’t qualify for the knock-out stages of the All-Ireland series so they’ll have a point to prove this season. Both sides will be looking for that new manager bounce and with the aid of home advantage, Waterford may just have enough to see this one out.
Odds: H: 1/3 D: 10/1 A: 11/4
Down v Offaly (Ballycran, 1pm)
Odds: H: 7/2 D: 11/1 A: 2/9