Preview: Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
Sunday March 26
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
Limerick v Galway, Gaelic Grounds, 3pm
Many felt that this would be a straight shoot-out for promotion, but Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford have emerged as the hurling story in Division 1B.
This game will essentially determine who finishes in second place on the standings, but both teams will want to deliver a win ahead of the knock-out stages.
Limerick have experimented throughout the League affording youngsters an opportunity to shine and manager John Kiely is satisfied with the response since the opening weekend loss to Wexford.
The Treaty panel has been boosted by the return of Barry Nash and Mary I’s prolific forward Aaron Gillane, while the experienced Gavin O’Mahony is back in full training.
Paul Browne and Tom Condon, though, are expected to miss several weeks due to injury, but Limerick will want to defeat Galway in the south west.
Galway boss Micheal Donoghue will be pleased that Joe Canning has being afforded some game time in the League following a serious hamstring injury, while the form of the Mannion brothers, Padraic and Cathal, is another source of encouragement for the Tribesmen.
Wexford v Laois, Innovate Wexford Park, 3pm
Within minutes of securing promotion Davy Fitzgerald cut a satisfied figure following Wexford’s O’Connor Park win over Offaly.
It was a result which ensured Wexford would be hurling in the top tier next year, a hugely satisfying fourth win on the trot earned.
“I’m delighted, absolutely thrilled that we are up to Division 1A," Fitzgerald stated. "It’s hard to believe. The County Board told me if I could get them there in two or three years they’d be delighted. So that’s big, a massive achievement."
Conor McDonald’s efficient form in attack has been one of the chief reasons in Wexford’s excellent run with Diarmuid O’Keefe and Lee Chin also prominent.
Laois have suffered three disappointing defeats in the competition, their only victory occurring against neighbours Offaly.
That match showcased what Laois can do when near full strength, but injuries have hampered them significantly in recent weeks.
LAOIS: Eoin Fleming; Lee Cleere, Leigh Bergin, Dwane Palmer; Cahir Healy, Ryan Mullaney, Sean Downey; Ross King, Patrick Purcell; Cian Taylor, Cha Dwyer, Ben Conroy; Willie Dunphy, Neil Foyle, Aaron Dunphy.
Kerry v Offaly, Austin Stack Park, 3pm
Avoiding a relegation play/off is the brief for these two teams who will also be keeping a close eye on events in Wexford.
Offaly have lost their four matches to date, but a win could be enough to claim a Quarter-Final berth depending on how the Wexford and Laois match goes.
Following a disappointing start Offaly’s performances have improved and they tested Wexford in Tullamore a fortnight ago.
Kerry, with Padraig Boyle in splendid scoring form, did beat Laois in their first match, but defeats to Wexford, Limerick, and Galway have been suffered since then.
Fintan O’Connor, though, will certainly be pleased with aspects of Kerry’s performances and another victory would send them into the knock-out stages.
KERRY: Martin Stackpoole; James O'Connor, Tom Murnane, Sean Weir; Daniel Collins, Bryan Murphy, Darren Dineen; Paudie O'Connor, Jack Goulding; Shane Nolan, Patrick Kelly, Colum Harty; Jordan Conway, Padraig Boyle, John Buckley.