Today's Allianz Hurling league games (2.30pm unless stated)
Published 06/03/2011 | 05:00
Division 1 Offaly v Dublin O'Connor Park
Last weekend Dublin beat Kilkenny in the Walsh Cup final, their first win over the Cats in eight years. It means that Anthony Daly's men are still unbeaten in 2011, drawing with Munster champions Waterford and beating All-Ireland winners Tipperary in the league. That's considerable progress considering Daly's first match in charge in January 2009 saw them slump to a six-goal thumping by Kilkenny.
Last year they were whipped in Tullamore but they should reverse that today. Shane Dooley is available for the home side after a recent Fitzgibbon Cup dismissal -- he scored 2-10 in the corresponding fixture last year -- and will be hugely influential today. Verdict: Dublin
Kilkenny v Wexford
Wexford have a serious problem finding scores but have been working on that aspect of their game for the past fortnight and will seek to deliver better quality ball to their forwards this afternoon.
Noel Carton takes over as 'keeper, Ciarán Kenny moves to corner-back, Michael Jacob returns at midfield, while Éanna Martin replaces Rory Jacob. A lot of changes but it should be to no avail. Wexford are in trouble and playing Kilkenny won't ease the pain. Verdict: Kilkenny
Cork v Galway
Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Even without a host of big names, including Joe Canning, Galway are looking sharp in early season. They had a healthy spread of seven different scorers in their win over Offaly.
But Galway knocked Cork out of the 2009 championship and beat them in the 2010 league final so revenge will be a factor here. Four of the Cork subs, involved in helping to almost pull off a tremendous comeback against Kilkenny recently, are retained -- Jerry O'Connor, Cian McCarthy, Tom Kenny and Conor O'Sullivan. Graham Callinan, Brian Murphy, Ben O'Connor, Ronan Curran, Michael Cussen and Shane Murphy are among those who make way.
Factor in the amount of absentees Galway have -- Tony Óg Regan (groin), Eanna Ryan (tonsillitis), and Cyril Donnellan (hamstring) are out, while Gerard O'Halloran, Niall Donoghue, David Burke and Johnny Coen all have under 21 club championship ties on Saturday. Furthermore, Niall Healy could be out for a month with a pulled hamstring. It's a test of their resources.
Down v Limerick
With two wins behind them, Limerick are well poised for a third on the trot but in Portaferry it might not be a cakewalk. Westmeath asked plenty of questions of them last time out and Down should also test the Shannonsiders here. But with Paul Braniff still out after shoulder surgery, the home side's task is even harder.
Carlow v Kerry
Dr Cullen Park
This is extremely hard to call. Both teams have Jekyll and Hyde tendencies and yet are still in the hunt for promotion in an extremely tight division. Carlow were beaten by Down but then came back with all guns blazing against Laois. Another loss today and their promotion hopes are gone. That fear may be the decisive factor against a young Kerry team who might struggle away from home but it will be a tight call.
Westmeath v Clare
After a bad beating by Limerick, Clare kickstarted their season with a win against Antrim and will pick up another in Mullingar. Westmeath are improving but the gulf in class should be too much for them.
London v Wicklow
London to maintain their terrific unbeaten start to the league.
Armagh v Kildare
It would be a big reversal for Kildare if they didn't win this but it won't be easy. Verdict: Kildare
Derry v Meath
Unbeaten Derry are in flying form.
Monaghan v Donegal
Monaghan to gain their first win of the season. Verdict: Monaghan
Roscommon v Sligo
Roscommon look better placed to land the points. Verdict: Roscommon
Fingal v Louth
Louth to protect their 100pc record.
Cavan v Tyrone, Kingspan Breffni Park Verdict: Tyrone
Fermanagh v South Down, Brewster Park Verdict: Fermanagh
Leitrim v Longford, Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada Verdict: Leitrim
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