Antrim forwards Ciaran Clarke and James McNaughton.
Antrim forwards Ciaran Clarke and James McNaughton.

Preview: Weekend's Joe McDonagh Cup action

Joe McDonagh Cup

Saturday May 14

Kerry v Offaly, Austin Stack Park, 1pm

Carlow v Down, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2pm

Sunday May 15

Meath v Antrim, Páirc Tailteann, 1pm

Every year the Joe McDonagh offers drama with some lively adventures guaranteed.

Undoubtedly Darren Gleeson's Antrim have generated momentum winning three games in a row to top the table.

Ciaran Clarke and Conal Cunning have been prominent for Antrim, while Neil McManus' return following injury is a significant boost.

The Saffrons can edge closer to a place in the Croke Park final by defeating Meath in Navan.

It has been a disappointing start for Meath, who will be eager to summon a defiant display on home turf.

Kerry's meeting with Offaly will be lively as both counties believe a top two finish can be attained.

That is why the fixture at Tralee carries so much relevance.

Michael Fennelly is adamant that Offaly's campaign would be classed as a failure if the Faithful don't reach the decider.

To realise that objective Offaly need to secure the spoils against a determined Kerry team, prompted by Shane Conway and Padraig Boyle.

Following two defeats each, avoiding relegation is Carlow and Down's brief.

Down have made admirable progress in recent years, but retaining Joe McDonagh Cup status will be vital for the development.

Marty Kavanagh continues to impress for Carlow, who will also be hoping to earn the full complement of spoils.