Hurling & Camogie

Ulster sides hope for bright start in Allianz Hurling League

Derry and Tyrone hurlers clash in Celtic Park curtain-raiser

Donegal hurling manager Mickey McCann
Donegal hurling manager Mickey McCann Donegal hurling manager Mickey McCann

FOLLOWING relegation to Division 2B last season, Derry will hope to bounce back at the first time of asking as they get their 2024 Allianz Hurling League campaign underway at Celtic Park against Tyrone on Sunday.

The two sides played out a frantic tie in the Christy Ring Cup last season, with the game finishing a draw, 2-20 apiece. The Oak Leaf County went on to reach the decider but lost to Meath.

The visitors, who finished mid-table in Division 2B last season, are under new management, with Stephen McGarry taking over from Mickey McShane, who stepped aside at the end of last year. McGarry will be without recently-retired Carrickmore duo Dermot Begley and Sean Og Grogan.

Donegal are another Ulster side plying their trade in Division 2B and Mickey McCann’s side will be eager to go one step further than last season when they reached the League final but lost out to Meath.

They make the long trip south this weekend to face Wicklow, the team they beat by the minimum of margins in last year’s League semi-final, and the Tir Chonaill men will hope to start as they mean to go one.

They’ll be buoyed by the club exploits of Setanta, who 12 months after claiming the Ulster junior title won the Ulster intermediate title in 2023.

Donegal have already begun 2024 on the front foot by winning the Conor McGurk Cup.

Armagh will be eyeing up promotion from Division 3A having fallen at the final hurdle against Roscommon last year. They will be without the retired Eoin McGuinness and Nathan Curry, but the return of Kieran McKiernan and Paul Gaffney will bolster their chances.

They take on a Mayo side that were relegated last season, while Cavan, promoted to 3A after last year’s fantastic campaign, also travel west as they kick-start their season with a difficult journey to Sligo.

Lory Meagher champions Monaghan, who reached the Division 3A semi-finals last season, are also on the road as they travel to Louth and with the players from Ulster junior champions Castleblayney back in tow, the Farneymen will be hard stopped.

Allianz Hurling League

Saturday

Division One Group B Galway v Westmeath (Netwatch Cullen Park, 2pm); Dublin v Tipperary (Parnell Park, 2.30pm, live on TG4)

Division 3A Sligo v Cavan (Markiewicz Park, 2pm)

Division 3B Lancashire v Longford (Abbotstown,1pm); Warwickshire v Leitrim (Birmingham, 2pm)

Sunday

Division One Group A Clare v Cork (Cusack Park, 1.45pm, live on TG4); Kilkenny v Wexford (UPMC Nowlan Park, 1.45pm); Offaly v Waterford (Glenisk O’Connor Park, 1.45pm)

Division One Group B Limerick v Antrim (FBD Semple Stadium, 2pm)

Division 2A Kerry v Carlow (Austin Stack Park, 1pm); Laois v Down (Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 2pm); Meath v Kildare (Pairc Tailteann, 2pm)

Division 2B Roscommon v London (Athleague, 12.30pm); Wicklow v Donegal (Aughrim, 12.30pm); Derry v Tyrone (Celtic Park, 1.30pm)

Division 3A Mayo v Armagh (Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, 2pm); Louth v Monaghan (Dowdallshill, 2pm)