Sunday 21 January 2018

Dooley queries logic of Offaly's double-away start to League

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

JOE Dooley has queried why newly-promoted Offaly have been drawn 'away' in their first two National Hurling League games next month.

Offaly open their programme 'away' to Cork on February 21 and must travel to Nowlan Park to take on Kilkenny a week later. In contrast, Limerick will have their first two games at home in the Gaelic Grounds, while the other six will have one 'home' and one 'away' over the first two weekends.

"It seems strange that any county would have two 'away' games in the first two rounds. I can't see why it would happen," said the Offaly manager.

Dooley will get an early chance to assess Kilkenny when the reigning All-Ireland, National League and Walsh Cup champions make their seasonal debut in the last-named competition at Tullamore on Sunday.

"They have the whole set and they'll want to hold on to all of them -- that's the way they do business in Kilkenny. We're really looking forward to giving our season a real kickstart against them," he said.

Dooley is delighted to be in Division 1 this year as he felt that playing in the lower group last year left them at a disadvantage going into the championship.

"We'll certainly know by the end of April where we stand after playing the top seven sides in the country," he said.

As for Kilkenny, it's business as usual for Brian Cody as he heads into his 12th season as manager.

As well as dominating the All-Ireland and National Leagues throughout the last decade, Kilkenny have also won four of the last five Walsh Cup competitions.

Kilkenny will start without the Ballyhale Shamrocks contingent, including Henry Shefflin, 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, Michael Fennelly and the Reid brothers, who are preparing for the All-Ireland club semi-final, while Derek Lyng, Eoin Larkin, Eddie Brennan and Noel Hickey are also unavailable.

Irish Independent

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