Wednesday 21 February 2018

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship: County guide

Laois, Antrim, Carlow, Westmeath and London are currently involved in round robin qualifiers which will see two teams qualify for the Leinster Championship proper

Kilkenny's Eoin Larkin and David Kenny of Offaly battle for possession
Kilkenny's Eoin Larkin and David Kenny of Offaly battle for possession
Galway sharpshooter Joe Canning

A guide to the counties fighting for the Leinster title.

DUBLIN

All-Ireland titles: 6 (1938).

Leinster titles: 24 (2013).

Manager: Anthony Daly (6th season).

Captain: John McCaffrey.

Last year: Dublin 1-17, Wexford 1-17; Dublin 1-17, Wexford 0-12 (replay); Dublin 0-17, Kilkenny 1-14; Dublin 1-16, Kilkenny 0-16 (replay); Dublin 2-25, Galway 2-13 (Leinster final); Dublin 1-19, Cork 1-24.

2014 NHL: 5th Division 1A (W2, D0, L3). Won relegation play-off v Waterford.

Last big championship achievement: Reigning Leinster champions.

Key man: Liam Rushe.

Who could make a name for himself? Mark Schutte.

Prospects: Defied all the odds to win Leinster the hard way last year, beating Wexford (after a replay), Kilkenny (after a replay) and then Galway en route to their first provincial crown since 1961. Strong evidence that Anthony Daly now has the Dubs on a competitive footing with the best in the land, and retention of their top division league status will have helped confidence. Alan McCrabbe's return to the squad a real boon for the attack too and look well set to be in the Leinster final on July 6.

Paddy Power betting: Leinster 9/4; All-Ireland 15/2.

First game: June 14 v Wexford or All-Ireland qualifier group winners.

All-Ireland titles: 4 (1988).

Leinster titles: 1 (2012).

Manager: Anthony Cunningham (3rd season).

Captain: Joe Canning.

Last year: Galway 2-17, Laois 1-13; Galway 2-13; Dublin 2-25 (Leinster final). Galway 2-14; Clare 1-23.

2014 NHL: 3rd Div 1A (W2, D1, L2). Beaten semi-finalists.

Last big championship achievement: Leinster champions 2012.

Key man: Joe Canning (below).

Who could make a name for himself? Ronan Burke.

Prospects: Look destined for a Leinster semi-final collision with Kilkenny on June 22, a game that will almost certainly define their season. Narrowly beaten by the same opposition in the league semi-final, there is growing evidence that Anthony Cunningham may have finally settled on a sound defensive spine given that Galway's was the most miserly defence in this year's competition. Settling on a game-plan that brings the best out of Joe Canning remains the Rubik's Cube for Cunningham.

Paddy Power betting: Leinster 7/2; All-Ireland 7/1.

First game: June 1 v All-Ireland qualifier group runners-up.

All-Ireland titles: 34 (2012).

Leinster titles: 68 (2011).

Manager: Brian Cody (16th season).

Captain: Lester Ryan.

Last year: Kilkenny 0-26, Offaly 4-9; Kilkenny 1-14, Dublin 0-17; Kilkenny 0-16, Dublin 1-16 (replay); Kilkenny 0-20, Tipperary 1-14; Kilkenny 1-22, Waterford 2-16 (after extra-time); Kilkenny 0-14, Cork 0-19.

2014 NHL: 2nd Div 1A (W3, D0, L2). League winners.

Last big championship achievement: 2012 All-Ireland champions.

Key man: Michael Fennelly.

Who could make a name for himself? Brian Kennedy.

Prospects: Relentless as the seasons, Kilkenny just keep on rolling forward. Despite Brian Cody's reconstruction of the backline, the Cats show no evidence of tapering motivation in this, their manager's 16th season at the helm. Strange to think they have not been Leinster champions since 2011; Kilkenny will probably have to beat the last two winners of the province (Galway and Dublin) if they are to reclaim the Bob O'Keeffe Cup.

Paddy Power betting: Leinster 5/6; All-Ireland 5/2.

First game: June 7 v Offaly, Nowlan Park.

All-Ireland titles: 4 (1998).

Leinster titles: 9 (1995).

Manager: Brian Whelahan (1st season).

Captain: Joe Bergin.

Last year: Offaly 4-9, Kilkenny 0-26; Offaly 1-14, Waterford 0-21.

2014 NHL: 5th Div 1B (W1, D1, L3). Won relegation/promotion play-off v Kerry.

Last big championship achievement: 1998 All-Ireland champions.

Key man: Joe Bergin.

Who could make a name for himself? Kevin Connolly.

Prospects: Have drawn yet another instant short straw with their opening-round opponents, but will hope to rekindle something of the spirit that snaffled four goals against the same opposition in Tullamore last year. On the evidence of the League, Brian Whelahan has a real mountain to climb in getting Offaly hurling back as a remotely competitive force in Leinster.

Paddy Power betting: Leinster 80/1; All-Ireland 125/1.

First game: June 7 v Kilkenny, Nowlan Park.

All-Ireland titles: 6 (1996).

Leinster titles: 19 (2004).

Manager: Liam Dunne (3rd season)

Captain: Matthew O'Hanlon.

Last year: Wexford 1-17, Dublin 1-17; Wexford 0-12, Dublin 1-17 (replay); Wexford 3-18, Antrim 0-17; Wexford 2-16, Carlow 0-20; Wexford 1-20, Clare 3-24 (after extra-time).

2014 NHL: 3rd Div 1B (W3, D0, L2). Beaten quarter-finalists.

Last big championship achievement: 2004 Leinster champions.

Key man: Garret Sinnott.

Who could make a name for himself? Liam Og McGovern.

Prospects: If all goes to plan, Liam Dunne will guide Wexford to a Leinster semi-final against the provincial champions, knowing just how difficult they made life for Dublin last year. But, to get that far, Wexford will first have to overcome the group winners of the preliminary round-robin series. Still some miles to travel to be Leinster title contenders, but Dunne has them moving in the right direction.

Paddy Power betting: Leinster 22/1; All-Ireland 66/1

First game: June 1 v All-Ireland qualifier group winner.

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