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Big Preview: Allianz Hurling League Round 2

A game-by-game preview and predictions of the Allianz Hurling League second round games.

Saturday 2nd February

Allianz HL Division 1A Round 2

Limerick v Tipperary, Gaelic Grounds, 7pm

Two teams that got off to the best of starts in Round 1. Tipperary hosted Clare and settled the new-coach nerves as Liam Sheedy makes strides towards improvement. Seamus Callanan looked his supreme best, scoring 2-7 and the newly adorned captain makes Tipp an altogether more dangerous task when he’s on form. Pádraic Maher reverted to full back and was given the freedom of Semple Stadium, but space will come at a premium in Limerick.

Limerick beat Wexford, but will be missing their own full forward Seamus, after Flanagan saw red down in Wexford Park. The Shannonsiders are showing no signs of an All-Ireland hangover and won’t be far off the ferocious pace Tipp showed in week one. Limerick leaked a couple of goal opportunities which Wexford failed to capitalise on and Tipp are sure to be more clinical in front of the net. We’re tipping Tipperary to be a bit further along than Limerick in their spring development and reverse last season’s championship result in the Gaelic Grounds.

Verdict: Tipperary

Allianz HL Division 2B Round 2

Kildare v Warwickshire, St Conleth’s Park, 1.30pm

Kildare beat Donegal last week, while newly promoted Warwickshire were welcomed to 2B with a hammering at the hands of Wicklow. It would be difficult to see them go into Kildare and get a win, so expect the Lilywhites to take a stranglehold on proceedings in 2B.

Verdict: Kildare

Sunday 3rd February

Allianz HL Division 1A Round 2

Clare v Kilkenny, Cusack Park, 2pm

With an appeal pending, Clare may be without their talisman Tony Kelly as they welcome Kilkenny to Cusack Park on Sunday. His sending off took the wind out of their sails last week, as they looked like they were about to make a fight of the game in Thurles.

Kilkenny made relatively light work of Cork in Nowlan Park, with some new faces at full back showing quality beyond their years and the likes of Billy Ryan delivering in the absence of players still playing with their club. Clare in Cusack Park should be a trickier task.

Verdict: Clare

Cork v Wexford, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 3pm

Two teams nursing wounds from a loss, the home side defeated soundly by Kilkenny, while Wexford couldn’t put away enough chances to keep pace with Limerick. Losing Liam Ryan to suspension won’t help Wexford’s fortunes entering the fiery Rebel cauldron, but we expect them to lift their game from last week and put Cork to the sword. Cork are still missing Darragh Fitzgibbon and will need to get more out of the likes of Declan Dalton, who aside from his sideline cut was held scoreless from play against the Cats. A potential underdog beating is there for them if Wexford can be more clinical this time around.

Verdict: Wexford

Allianz HL Division 1B Round 2

Laois v Waterford, O’Moore Park, 2pm

Waterford were imperious against Offaly, blowing them away and scoring 2-27 in the process. Laois carried themselves well against Galway and showed they are no pushover by any means, and will arrive into O’Moore Park with the idea of an upset not too far in the back of their minds. Waterford will be in cruise control after last week’s game and the taste for blood may be too hard for the O’Moore men to overcome

Verdict: Waterford

Carlow v Galway, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2pm

Carlow put up a strong effort against Dublin, leading at half-time until the Dubs surged ahead in the second half, and that type of performance will buoy them ahead of hosting Galway. This is a type of game that will be a lot closer than people think, with a quality free taker in Martin Kavanagh who can keep the scoreboard ticking from any sort of range. Galway are working with a panel decimated with injury and club commitments, but still have top quality talent in important areas of the field, not least Padraic Mannion at centre back and Joe Canning at centre forward.

Verdict: Galway

Offaly v Dublin, O’Connor Park, 2pm

Offaly’s seven point haul against Waterford was poor to say the least, so pride alone may trigger an improvement as they host a Dublin side who are rapidly improving under Mattie Kenny. Dublin won’t have forgotten their loss to the Faithful in last year’s league in HQ and will be keen to revenge that defeat and punish Offaly while they’re down. Dublin sourced scores from a number of areas around the field last week, including 1-4 from Donal Burke off the substitutes bench, and that’s a level of scoring that Offaly won’t be able to match.

Verdict: Dublin 

Allianz HL Division 2A Round 2

London v Mayo, McGovern Park, 12.30pm

The English side didn’t get off to the best of starts last week, losing to a strong and improving Westmeath team. Welcoming Mayo over to McGovern Park should level the playing field somewhat althoughMayo, promoted from 2B last year, played really well to earn a late draw against Meath last weekend. A win in London will set them up nicely for the rest of the league and signal them as an improving force in the so-called weaker hurling counties.

Verdict: Mayo

Meath v Antrim, Pairc Tailteann, 2pm

We fancied Antrim to get the best of Kerry on home soil last week and the result shocked a lot of observers, but not least themselves. Meath let a lead go late on as well as a half-time cushion against Mayo, so they’ll also be keen to right their wrongs. Antrim have more potency in forward positions and if they can keep to a full complement – they had two sent off last week – they should have the better of the Royals.

Verdict: Antrim

Kerry v Westmeath, Austin Stack Park, 2pm

This shapes up to be a cracking encounter in Tralee, with two growing forces in 2A. Kerry’s win up in Antrim delivered a huge statement to the rest of the hurling community that they mean business in the other code, while Westmeath cruised past London after an excellent 2018 campaign where they missed promotion in the final. It’s difficult to call but with Shane Conway and company in tow, it’s hard to bet against Kerry right now.

Verdict: Kerry

Allianz HL Division 2B Round 2

Wicklow v Down, Aughrim, 12.30pm

The home side were imperious on opening day, beating Warwickshire by 15 points. Another win this weekend will put them in the driving seat for promotion, welcoming a Down side were felled by Derry five points last week. On the basis of Wicklow’s performance last week, they should be gunning for promotion and Down as a near certain two points.

Verdict: Wicklow

Derry v Donegal, Owenbeg, 2.30pm

Two sides that suffered defeats in round one will be keen not to let that slip into a run. Derry failed to win a game in 2018 but showed some signs of improvement in the Christy Ring, and this home all-Ulster clash should serve to be their first league win since 2017.

Verdict: Derry

Allianz HL Division 3A Round 2

Tyrone v Louth, Healy Park, 12.30pm

The Red Hand men demolished Lancashire last week, as they look to build on a decent 2018 campaign. Louth suffered a serious beating at the hands of Roscommon, which was a shock to some despite Roscommon doing the exact same thing last year. Whoever gets the better of who here should fancy their chances at getting promoted in what is an ultra competitive division, so we’ll lean towards the Ulster side.

Verdict: Tyrone

Roscommon v Monaghan, Dr Hyde Park, 12.30pm

Roscommon put up 3-18 last week, a superb scoreline and a hot streak that should easily help them overcome Monaghan. As the footballers fly, the hurlers are sinking after only putting up five points against Armagh.

Verdict: Roscommon

Armagh v Lancashire, Athletic Grounds, 2.30pm

Armagh demolished Monaghan last week, scoring 4-11 in a game that didn’t require them to get too far out of second gear. Lancashire should pose a slightly trickier test, may but not enough for Armagh to worry about the result.

Verdict: Armagh

Allianz HL Division 3B Round 2

Fermanagh v Longford, Brewster Park, 2pm

The 34th ranked team in the country according to our pre-season rankings certainly didn’t look it when they lost by just a point away to Sligo in round one. Longford had the weekend off, so are a bit of an unknown quantity coming down from 3A after a season to forget in 2018. The Ernesiders should really fancy picking off Longford and getting their first league win in two years.

Verdict: Fermanagh

Leitrim v Sligo, Annaduff, 2pm

A fairly even contest, Leitrim got the better of Sligo last year and despite a loss to Cavan in the opening weekend, should be capable of repeating that result.

Verdict: Leitrim

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