New Galway hurling manager Henry Shefflin.
New Galway hurling manager Henry Shefflin.

Preview: Weekend's Allianz Hurling League Divison 1A and 1B action

Allianz Hurling League Division 1A

Saturday February 5

Cork v Clare, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm

Sunday February 6

Wexford v Limerick, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 1.45pm

Galway v Offaly, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

Three matches bring different stories on the opening weekend of action. Henry Shefflin and Michael Fennelly patrolling the line in Salthill captures interest.

Wexford host the All Ireland champions in the south east, while on Saturday evening Cork and Clare clash under the Páirc Uí Chaoimh lights.

Considering Cork's improved recent record in the underage ranks a raft of promising players have been developed. It will be interesting to see how they fare ahead of the Championship in April.

Under Brian Lohan's passionate stewardship Clare have enjoyed some gutsy and gritty wins.

Key performers are currently unavailable due to injury, but the Banner will still want to take Cork's scalp down by the Lee.

Limerick's drive and desire in the John Kiely era has been rewarded on every stage. Again Limerick will bring trademark enthusiasm into the competition and the green and white outfit crave further success.

Darragh Egan's efforts with Kiladangan and Tipperary ensure an innovative hurling operator takes charge of Wexford. Egan has made some high profile backroom additions which should help Wexford in the 2022 campaign.

Limerick is currently the most demanding assignment available, but Wexford will relish the challenge.

Out west Offaly, who hurled nicely at times in the Walsh Cup, will want to spoil Henry Shefflin's first league match as Galway boss.

Eoghan Cahill was in remarkable scoring form when Galway and Offaly collided last month.

A stronger and more experienced Galway panel will be present in Salthill. Gifted maroon figures have retired from the inter-county scene. How will the emerging hurlers in Galway cope?

Eoghan O'Donnell captained Dublin to a Walsh Cup Final win over Wexford at Croke Park.
Eoghan O'Donnell captained Dublin to a Walsh Cup Final win over Wexford at Croke Park.

Allianz Hurling League Division 1B

Saturday February 5

Laois v Tipperary, MW Hire O'Moore Park, 6pm

Saturday February 6

Kilkenny v Antrim, UPMC Nowlan Park, 1pm

Dublin v Waterford, Parnell Park, 3.45pm

Having impressed in the Walsh Cup, Dublin will now want to embark on an Allianz League adventure.

Liam Cahill's Waterford, though, even without the Ballygunner contingent have sufficient ability to make a serious bid for silverware too.

The spirit and style Waterford have demonstrated with Cahill as manager bodes well, but the Deise know that 2022 will be a revealing campaign.

Cahill's decision to remain with Waterford was notable and a passionate collection of players will relish the upcoming challenges.

In UPMC Nowlan Park Brian Cody's Kilkenny host Antrim, who have achieved a good level of consistency with Darren Gleeson in charge.

The Portroe native is fully aware of the importance of these type of fixtures for the long term development of his team.

Tipperary's preparations have been hampered by the unfortunate retirement of the classy Padraic Maher.

The Thurles Sarsfields clubman was an immense figure in the blue and gold jersey. With Brendan Maher also no longer involved Colm Bonnar has to deal with a significant transition for Tipperary.

A few decades spent coaching following a decorated playing career ensures Bonnar has plenty of experience at different levels of the game. Tipperary's starting XV includes several young players and Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett's Laois will be pumped up for this opener.