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Big Preview: Allianz Hurling League Round 3

A game-by-game preview of the Allianz Hurling League Round 3 action.

Saturday 16 February

Allianz HL Division 1A

Cork v Clare, Pairc Ui Rinn, 7.15pm (Eir sport 1/RTÉ)

Cork welcome Clare to Pairc Ui Rinn, after the rug was pulled on the terrible Pairc Ui Chaoimh carpet. The Rebels are bottom of Division 1 after two rounds and go into this as slight underdogs after Clare got the better of Kilkenny in impressive fashion in the last round. Cork will be without Declan Dalton for the rest of the league after he underwent knee surgery, while Clare bring a full complement for this Munster derby. The Banner will be flying high after their victory over the Cats, but Cork are in badly need of a win to have any hope of progressing into the quarter-finals. It’s a tight one to call, but favour is given to Cork with their backs against the wall in a cauldron like Pairc Ui Rinn.

Verdict: Cork

Allianz HL Division 1B

Laois v Offaly, O’Moore Park, 7pm

Laois have had a brutal start to the league, meeting Galway and Waterford in the opening two rounds. It’s a friendlier test this week as they welcome Offaly to Portlaoise in very much a winnable game for Eddie Brennan’s charges. Kevin Martin’s Offaly are also without a win thus far with losses to Waterford and Dublin, and relegation will loom large for whoever is bested in this one. Both will see this as their best chance for points in 1B and Offaly are sure to be well up for it, but Laois have acquitted themselves best so far and are the more settled side.

Verdict: Laois

Waterford v Carlow, Fraher Field, 7pm

The Déise are flying in 1B under Pauric Fanning, with two wins from two and 43 points in their favour. Carlow earned a tremendous draw against Galway last time out and a repeat here is stacked against the Barrowsiders favours, with Jamie Barron and Austin Gleeson set to return for Waterford.

Verdict: Waterford

Allianz HL Division 3A

Lancashire v Louth, Abbottstown, 1.30pm

Both of these sides are without a win so far, sharing big losses to Tyrone. Neither side have really acquitted themselves well so far, so it’s a bit of a roll of the dice. Whoever can get he victory will fancy themselves to retain 3A status this year.

Verdict: Louth

Sunday 17 February

Allianz HL Division 1A

Kilkenny v Limerick, Nowlan Park, 2pm (TG4)

A very tasty encounter and a repeat of last year’s thrilling All-Ireland quarter-final encounter. Limerick are rolling with two wins from two, including a comprehensive win over Tipperary last time out. Kilkenny, on the other hand, would be disappointed with their performance and narrow loss against Clare. It’s a tough one to call and Brian Cody would love to get one over the reigning All-Ireland champions. The Shannonsiders however are showing no signs of an All-Ireland hangover and their win over Tipp was slick.

Verdict: Limerick

Wexford v Tipperary, Innovate Wexford Park, 2pm (TG4, deferred)

Wexford Park is a difficult place to go and Tipperary won’t be taking Davy’s men lightly. Things were looking great for Tipp after their opening night win against Clare, but were brought swiftly back down to earth in the Gaelic Grounds last time out. Wexford are coming off a fine win away to Cork and boast some serious talent that won’t fear the Tipperary attack. This has the sniff of a possible upset, unless Tipperary can bounce back to the type of performance that dealt impressively with Clare in round one.

Verdict: Wexford

Allianz HL Division 1B

Galway v Dublin, Pearse Stadium, 2pm (TG4, deferred)

The Tribesmen stumbled last time out with a surprising draw against Carlow. Dublin have shown signs of improvement under Mattie Kenny with two wins from two and will be keen to reverse the result from January’s Walsh Cup final. Galway are still without their St Thomas’ contingent who progressed to the All-Ireland club final, and will be keen to get the train back on the tracks on home turf. It should be closer than many anticipate.

Verdict: Galway

Allianz HL Division 2A

Meath v London, Trim, 1pm

London are rooted to the bottom of 2A having lost in the opening weekend. Meath earned a draw against Mayo last time out, and with home advantage here should fancy adding two more points to their haul. London will be no pushovers though, that’s for sure.

Verdict: Meath

Kerry v Mayo, Austin Stack Park, 1pm

Kerry were brought back down to earth in round two with a defeat to Westmeath after a huge win up in Antrim on the opening weekend. Mayo just have a point to their names, earned against Meath, and Kerry will be a difficult test down in Austin Stack Park. Their dynamite forward Shane Conway is in the Fitzgibbon Cup final and played into extra time with UCC during the week, so it’ll be interesting to see how much action he sees.

Verdict: Kerry

Antrim v Westmeath, Corrigan Park, 2pm

A decent encounter with Westmeath, two wins from two, meeting Antrim who bounced back with a good win in Meath last time out. Westmeath have put up 4-13 and 2-17 in their first two games so are showing a potent side that Antrim may struggle to handle, however with the return of their Cushendall contingent they’ll be mad to get back on track.

Verdict: Antrim

Allianz HL Division 2B

Warwickshire v Down, Pairc na hEireann, 1.15pm

Warwickshire shipped 8-17 last time out against Kildare and it’s hard to see them recovering from that, hosting Down – who delivered a fine victory against Wicklow in round two.

Verdict: Down

Donegal v Wicklow, Letterkenny, 2pm

Donegal welcome Wicklow to Letterkenny, with no wins from their opening two games. Wicklow had a decent win against Warwickshire in week one, but that may not stand for a whole pile against the rest of 2B. Donegal have struggled so far with losses to Kildare and Derry, so Wicklow will fancy adding two points to their total.

Verdict: Wicklow

Kildare v Derry, Newbridge, 2pm

Two sides gunning for promotion in 2B, with each winning their opening two games. Whoever gets the better here will be in prime position for promotion. Kildare had an astonishingly huge win in round two against Warwickshire and should be able to roll that form into Newbridge on Sunday. Derry have had fine wins over Donegal and Down so far, but Kildare pose a different sort of threat.

Verdict: Kildare

Allianz HL Division 3A

Armagh v Roscommon, Athletic Grounds, 2pm

Two unbeaten sides in 3A wil be fighting it out to take a stranglehold int the division. Armagh have dismissed Monaghan and Lancashire so far, while Roscommon have had excellent wins over Monaghan and Louth. The Rossies are a more potent group right now and should be able to continue their form on away ground.

Verdict: Roscommon

Tyrone v Monaghan, Healy Park, 2pm

The Red Hand side have had two nice wins against Louth and Lancashire and should add a third against struggling Monaghan in Omagh.

Verdict: Tyrone

Allianz HL Division 3B

Longford v Leitrim, Pearse Park, 2pm

As well as the Leitrim footballers are going, their hurling comrades are struggling and Longford – who won well last wekeend against Fermanagh – should be able to add a second win in as many games.

Verdict: Longford

Sligo v Cavan, Kent Park, 2pm

Sligo have defeated Leitrim and Fermanagh in their opening two games and will be keen to stay at the summit of the division with a win over Cavan, who opened up their account with a win against Leitrim.

Verdict: Sligo

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