Preview: Weekend's Hurling Championship action
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Finals
Saturday October 31
Dublin v Kilkenny, Croke Park, 3.45pm
Impressive when beating Laois, Dublin will relish the opportunity to test themselves against Kilkenny.
The striped team will always be highly regarded, but in this reformed structure Brian Cody's outfit carry a potent threat.
That is chiefly because of the enduring excellence of TJ Reid, while some of his Shamrocks Ballyhale contingent have motored well recently too.
Dublin, though, with a game already played, will be eager to build on the solid foundation established.
Mattie Kenny's charges with Conor Burke, Chris Crummey, and the prolific Donal Burke leading the charge, enjoyed a productive stint at GAA headquarters last weekend.
Recapturing that level of performance will be difficult considering Kilkenny's craft.
DUBLIN: Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Eoghan O'Donnell, James Madden; Conor Burke, Daire Gray, Cian O'Callaghan; Sean Moran, Rian McBride; Cian Boland, Chris Crummey, Danny Sutcliffe; Donal Burke, David Keogh, Ronan Hayes.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Conor Delaney, Huw Lawlor, Ciaran Wallace; Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan, Richie Reid; Cillian Buckley, Conor Fogarty; John Donnelly, TJ Reid, Walter Walsh; Billy Ryan, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Cody.
Wexford v Galway, Croke Park, 6.15pm
Another intriguing fixture at the Jones Road venue looms.
Davy Fitzgerald's splendid work with Wexford was reflected with a Leinster title in 2019.
A subsequent All Ireland SHC semi-final defeat to Tipperary hurt to the core.
It is one of the reasons Fitzgerald returned to drive a team with whom he has forged a significant connection.
Wexford's development has been one of the hurling stories of the past few years, but they will want to remain seriously relevant.
That is something Galway have achieved, but the early Championship departure last year was harrowing.
The margin for error was slim, but under new manager Shane O'Neill Galway went through an auditioning process in the spring.
It will be interesting to see who O'Neill deems ready for this type of high stakes battle with Wexford.
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohue, Liam Ryan, Damien Reck; Paudie Foley, Matthew O'Hanlon, Shaun Murphy; Kevin Foley, Diarmuid O'Keeffe; Jack O'Connor, Lee Chin, Liam Og McGovern; Rory O'Connor, Conor McDonald, Paul Morris.
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Sean Loftus, Fintan Burke, Aidan Harte; Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney, Shane Cooney; Cathal Mannion, Johnny Coen; Conor Cooney, Joe Canning, Joseph Cooney; Brian Concannon, Conor Whelan, Jason Flynn.
Munster Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Finals
Saturday October 31
Cork v Waterford, Semple Stadium, 3.30pm
Cork and Waterford will both believe that a place in the Munster showpiece can be attained so this promises to be lively.
Liam Cahill's collection of emerging and established players delivered some defiant displays in the Allianz Hurling League.
That was a long time ago now, but hope is certainly attached to Waterford's challenge.
Following a couple of bitterly disappointing round robin campaigns since reaching the 2017 All Ireland SHC Final, Waterford want to become contenders again.
Cork, with Patrick Horgan as polished as ever, will miss the industry of Darragh Fitzgibbon, but talented players have been prepared in the past decade.
Underage improvements ensure that Cork are beginning to believe once more. A win on Saturday would supply an injection of optimism, but Waterford will be looking to secure the exact same thing.
CORK: Anthony Nash; Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane, Sean O'Donoghue; Christopher Joyce, Robert Downey, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Tim O'Mahony; Seamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane, Aidan Walsh; Alan Cadogan, Shane Kingston, Patrick Horgan.
WATERFORD: Stephen O'Keeffe; Shane Fives, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Tadhg De Burca, Austin Gleeson; Jamie Barron, Jake Dillon; Kevin Moran, Jack Fagan, Kieran Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Stephen Bennett, Jack Prendergast.
Sunday November 1
Limerick v Tipperary, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 4pm
This should be a compelling heavyweight bout on the banks of the Lee.
Limerick, fresh from a remarkable shooting performance against Clare, face the standard bearers.
Tipperary know that the 2019 All Ireland triumph is a long time ago now, but they continue to possess a forward line dripping with class.
The Clare match illustrated the importance of Limerick's fabled and self sufficient half forward line: Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, and Tom Morrissey.
Selfless, but also capable of notching scores, how Tipperary cope with them will be critical.
At the opposite end of the field, Tipperary will be hoping the McGraths and Seamus Callanan can find the necessary inspiration. The Premier support cast is gifted too. Limerick are blessed with similar quality. It could go the distance.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Darragh O'Donovan; Cian Lynch, William O'Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Graeme Mulcahy, Aaron Gillane, Peter Casey.
TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Barry Heffernan, Sean O'Brien; Ronan Maher, Brendan Maher, Padraic Maher; Noel McGrath, Alan Flynn; Mark Kehoe, Jason Forde, Niall O'Meara; John McGrath, Seamus Callanan, Jake Morris.
Joe McDonagh Cup
Saturday October 31
Westmeath v Kerry, TEG Cusack Park, 1.30pm
Buoyed up by an opening weekend win, Kerry will travel to the midlands armed with confidence.
Fintan O'Connor continues to carry out diligent work with the Kingdom, who will expect a stern test from Westmeath.
That is because Westmeath know that only victory will suffice for them following an opening weekend setback in Antrim.
The heavy loss was disappointing, but the Joe McDonagh Cup remains an interesting competition, and Westmeath will be primed for this game.
Carlow v Antrim, Netwatch Cullen Park, 3pm
Antrim's improvement has been demonstrated by two fantastic victories.
The Allianz Hurling League Division 2A Final win set them up nicely for the Joe McDonagh.
Westmeath were the visitors last weekend and Ciaran Clarke's scoring burst inspired the Saffrons.
Carlow, though, are a capable team, and will feel that they can disturb an increasingly prominent Antrim.