Allianz League talking points
By Cian O'Connell
It was another double weekend of Allianz Football and Hurling League action. Here are four of the main talking points following an eventful two days.
Wexford delivering once more
At this exact juncture a year ago Davy Fitzgerald pleaded for time. Fitzgerald didn't want to judged there and then, the project was only starting. Progress is certainly still being made.
In Division 1B Wexford burst from the traps with two critical come from behind wins over Limerick and Galway. That set the tone and standard; Wexford's were on the road.
The journey continues and the fact that two Division 1A victories have been eked out over Waterford and Cork is especially pleasing.
There was so much to admire in the manner Wexford performed against Cork. Mark Fanning safe and solid between the sticks; Liam Ryan's aerial ability; Kevin Foley's industry; Aidan Nolan, Lee Chin, and Paul Morris' scores; Jack Guiney and Harry Kehoe's impact from the bench.
With four points pocketed Wexford are nicely placed to realise their first spring objective: retaining Division 1A status.
Three battles remain against Tipperary, Clare, and Kilkenny so Fitzgerald will be fully aware of the impending tests.
What will hearten Wexford and Fitzgerald, though, is the attitude and application that is associated with the teams.
Cork posed questions during a lively first half, but after the restart the visitors only managed five points. That statistic won't be forgotten by Fitzgerald, who has planned in trademark diligent fashion.
Making an impact at this level will increase Wexford's confidence. Momentum is also being acquired and 2017 illustrated how valuable it can be.
Kilkenny and Waterford's clash is critical
Walsh Park on Sunday, February 18 promises to be intriguing. Waterford and Kilkenny, both without an Allianz Hurling League Division 1A point, will collide.
For a plethora of reasons Derek McGrath and Brian Cody aren't at full strength in the spring so the experimentation is likely to continue.
Waterford took some nuggests of satisfaction from how they fared in the first half against Tipperary with Mikey Kearney filching a few nice points. The chief worry, though, was how Tipperary set the agenda in the third quarter.
The Deise just couldn't recover, but a match with an equally determined Kilkenny offers a good environment to see how emerging players can cope.
Having conceded a couple of soft goals against Clare, Kilkenny did claw their way back into the reckoning. Alan Murphy, one of the Kilkenny Under 21 brigade from 2017, struck 0-10 from placed balls which supplied some optimism.
That Kilkenny fought back is unsurprising considering the effort demanded by Cody. While Kilkenny are nowhere near pressing the panic button they will crave a couple of points from the short trip to Waterford.
It isn't a defining game, but Kilkenny will still want encouraging signs to be available.
Pearse Stadium hosts important Connacht Allianz League derby
It might be three months until the next eagerly anticipated Connacht Championship battle between Galway and Mayo, but Sunday's Allianz Football League game involving the teams carries importance.
Since leaving Division One in 2011 Galway have watched Mayo compete at the highest level in both spring and summer.
Even though Galway beat Mayo in their last two Championship encounters, the Green and Red recovered to contest All Ireland Finals in 2016 and 2017.
That is a reminder of Mayo's pedigree and their ability to produce in high stakes Croke Park games in July and August.
Talk to anybody associated with Galway football and the one thing that they truly want is to be consistent. It is a word frequently mentioned by Kevin Walsh, who has improved the Tribesmen considerably.
Resilience was evident against Tyrone and Donegal which supplies another layer of optimism ahead of this weekend's tussle with Mayo.
Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh, Peter Cooke, and Sean Kelly were Under 21s last year with all three contributing handsomely thus far.
The Sweeneys are rugged competitors, while Damien Comer is leading by example having scored 1-5 from play in two matches.
There is a bit more depth to the Galway panel with Padraic Cunningham's arrival a boost and the return of Johnny Duane another source of encouragement.
Galway, though, know that a match with Stephen Rochford's Mayo will be a stern physical and mental examination.
London's calling this spring
Ciaran Deely's third year in charge of London was always going to be interesting, particularly in the League.
London have seven matches at McGovern Park, Ruislip. There is no demanding logistical challenge for London to meet, the weekends are travel free.
Football and delivering performances are what dominate the mind. A defeat against a rapidly improving Carlow occurred on the opening weekend, but there was a significant response when Wicklow visited London.
Deely's team were primed for a battle and victory was achieved. It is a brilliant, almost untold story how the Exiles have played seven London born players in their opening two games.
Liam Gavaghan is now an established inter-county player and his 1-7 haul was the standout feature of London's win.
The crafty way Deely has stitched a nice panel together is a lesson about what can be achieved through maximising limited resources.
The London backroom is stuffed with people working at professional clubs in the English capital.
Deely enjoyed some good days on the playing fields of Ireland in a Wexford jersey, but his clever approach with London is worth monitoring.