DIVISION 1: ROSSIES BID TO TAKE UNBEATEN RUN TO TWELVE
Saturday: Kerry v Armagh, Tralee, 5pm; Mayo v Tyrone, Castlebar 7pm
Sunday: Donegal v Galway, Letterkenny 12.30pm; Monaghan v Roscommon, Clones, 2.30pm
Roscommon really are enjoying a special Allianz League run. Unbeaten since losing a Division 1 play-off to Armagh in June 2021, they have since won promotion from Division 2 as champions (2022) and powered to the top of Division 1 this season with three wins.
It takes their unbeaten League run 11 games, during which they have beaten Galway (three times), Cork, Meath, Down, Offaly, Tyrone, Armagh and drawn with Clare and Derry.
The quest to take it to twelve will continue in Clones on Sunday, when they meet Monaghan, who picked up their first points with a win over Donegal last Sunday. It will be the first League clash between Monaghan and Roscommon since 2019 when the Connacht men won a Division 1 tie by two points.
Mayo moved into second place on the table after an impressive win over Kerry in Castlebar in Round 3 and will have home advantage again when they line up against Tyrone in Round 4 on Saturday.
Tyrone (two defeats, one win so far) beat Mayo in their last two League meetings in 2022 and 2020 and also beat them in the 2021 All-Ireland final. It leaves Mayo seeking their first win over the Ulstermen since the 2019 League. Tyrone lost for the second time in three games last Sunday, going down by three points to Galway.
The Tribesmen (three points) travel to Letterkenny to take on Donegal (two points). Galway beat Donegal by a point in their last two League meetings in 2020 and 2018.
Armagh (three points) lost their unbeaten tag when going down to Roscommon and now face the long trip to Tralee to take on Kerry (two points). The Kingdom beat Armagh by three points in last year’s League.
DIVISION 2: DUBLIN AND DERRY LIVING UP TO FAVOURITES’ TAG
Saturday: Dublin v Clare, Croke Park, 7pm
Sunday: Kildare v Derry, Newbridge, 2pm; Meath v Louth, Pairc Tailteann, 2pm; Cork v Limerick, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 3.45pm.
Dublin and Derry, respective Leinster and Ulster champions, lead the way on six points ahead of Round 4, followed by Meath on four points.
Kildare v Derry will draw a big crowd to Newbridge for a clash which will be especially important for the home side. They are second last (on scoring difference) after one win in three games while the Ulster champions are on full points.
This will be first League clash between the counties since 2017 when Derry won by a point in Division 2.
Dublin and Clare meet in the League for the first time since 1974 when the Banner won a Division 2 clash by 4-9 to 2-9 in Croke Park. Seven months later Dublin won the All-Ireland title for the first time in 11 years.
It remains Clare’s only win from four League and Championship meetings with Dublin. The last competitive clash between the counties was in 1992 when Dublin beat Clare by five points in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Meath’s unbeaten run ended against Derry last weekend, while Louth picked up their first points with a win over Limerick. Meath beat Louth by eight points in their last League meeting in 2018.
It is 16 years since Cork and Limerick last met in the League, when the Rebels won a Division 1A game.
DIVISION 3: TWO POINTS SEPARATE TOP FIVE
Saturday: Antrim v Fermanagh, Corrigan Park, 2pm; Down v Westmeath, Newry, 6pm
Sunday: Offaly v Cavan, Tullamore, 2pm; Longford v Tipperary, Pearse Park, 2pm
The promotion race is developing into the exciting race anticipated before the start of the season, with only two points separating the top five teams after three rounds. Cavan, who were promoted from Division 4 at the end of last year, lead the way on six points, with Westmeath, Fermanagh, Down and Offaly all on four points. Antrim have two points while Tipperary, who were promoted from Division 4 last season, and Longford have yet to pick up a point.
Cavan head for Tullamore to take on Offaly in what will be the first League clash between the counties since 2014 when the Breffni men won by six points (Div 3).
Antrim beat Fermanagh by nine points last year while Down beat Westmeath by a point in their last League meeting in 2021.
Longford v Tipperary is crucial as both have lost their first three games. Longford beat Tipperary by seven points in their last League clash in 2021.
DIVISION 4: DETERMINED LAOIS SHOW THE WAY
Saturday: Waterford v Wexford, SETI Arena, 4pm; Laois v Wicklow, Portlaoise, 7pm
Sunday: London v Sligo, Ruislip, 1pm; Leitrim v Carlow, Carrick-on-Shannon, 2pm
Having been relegated at the end of last season, Laois are clearly very determined to begin the climb back up the rankings by winning promotion this term. Three wins leave them at the head affairs, followed by Leitrim, Sligo (4 pts each), Wicklow, Wexford and Carlow (3 pts each).
Laois host Wicklow on Saturday, having had mixed experiences against them last year. Laois won a Division 3 clash by 12 points but lost by six points in the first round of the Leinster championship on a day when Wicklow scored 5-15.
Leitrim beat Carlow by seven points in last year’s League while Sligo beat London by 18 points. Wexford v Waterford has been extremely close in recent years, with only a point separating them on three occasions. Wexford were one-point winners last year and in 2020 while Waterford prevailed by a similar margin in 2021.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE HEADING TOWARDS CRUCIAL PHASE
DIVISION 1 GROUP A: CORK POISED FOR THIRD SUCCESSIVE WIN
Sunday: Cork v Westmeath, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 1.45pm; Wexford v Clare, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 1.45pm; Galway v Limerick, Pearse Stadium, 2.30pm
As the only team in the group on full points after two rounds, Cork are well-placed to take another major step towards semi-final qualification when they host bottom-placed Westmeath. Cork’s wins over Limerick and Galway marked an impressive start under new manager, Pat Ryan who will be hoping to consolidate their position at the top of the table ahead of the final two games against Wexford and Clare.
Westmeath lost their first two games against Clare and Wexford by a combined total of 36 points. They last played Cork in the League in 2021, losing by 7-27 to 0-15 in Pairc Ui Chaoimh on a day when Patrick Horgan scored 2-4 (2-2 from play) for the Rebels.
Galway and Limerick (both on two points) have had several great battles in recent years, the latest being in last season’s All-Ireland semi-final which John Kiely’s men won by three points. They also beat Galway by three points in the 2020 All-Ireland semi-final and were one-point winners over the Tribesmen in the 2018 All-Ireland final. Galway have done better in the League, winning in 2022 (six points) and 2021 (six points). The finals scores were almost identical: 2021: Galway 0-26 Limerick 1-17; 2022: Galway 0-27 Limerick 1-18.
Wexford and Clare has also been a busy rivalry in recent times, meeting in each of the last three All-Ireland championships and in the last five Leagues. Clare won all three championship games in 2020-21-22. Wexford have done better in the League, winning in 2022-21-18 while Clare won in 2020 and 2019.
DIVISION 1 GROUP B: TIPPERARY POWER TO THE TOP OF THE TABLE
Saturday: Dublin v Tipperary, Croke Park, 5pm
Sunday: Laois v Kilkenny, Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 2pm; Waterford v Antrim, Fraher Field, 1pm
Tipperary have the only 100 per cent record in the group, having picked up four points in wins over Laois and Kilkenny. Dublin and Waterford are a point behind, followed by Kilkenny on two points. Antrim and Laois have still to pick up a point.
Dublin beat Tipperary by a point in last year’s League. Prior to that, they hadn’t met in the League since 2019 when Dublin won a quarter-final by a point. If Tipperary win on Saturday, it will be the first time since 2017 that they won their first three League games. They went on to reach the final that year, losing to Galway.
Kilkenny beat Laois in the last three Leagues and also in last year’s Leinster championship. Laois are seeking their first League win since beating Antrim in Round 4 last year. They lost their opening two games to Tipperary and Waterford in recent weeks, conceding a total of 4-32 in 20 and 12 point defeats. Waterford beat Antrim by 3-21 to 2-22 in last year’s League.
DIVISION 2A: TOP THREE PULL WELL CLEAR OF THE REST
Saturday: Kerry v Offaly, Fitzgerald Stadium, 2pm
Sunday: Derry v Kildare, Celtic Park, 2pm; Carlow v Down, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2pm
In an unusual start, three counties (Offaly, Kerry, Kildare) have broken away from the other three (Down, Carlow, Derry). The top three are all on four points after two rounds while the bottom trio have yet to pick up a point. It suggests that a place in the final will be between the three early high-fliers.
Kerry and Offaly face into a top-of-the-table clash, having last met in the League two years ago when Offaly won by 2-28 to 0-13. Kildare are also making a bold bid for promotion and will fancy their chances of staying in strong contention when they face Derry, who were promoted from 2B at the end of last season.
They have struggled so far at the higher level, losing heavily to Kerry and Offaly in the first two rounds.
Carlow and Down are seeking their first points in what will be the third successive year they have met in the League. Down won by a point last year and by two points in 2021.
DIVISION 2B: ROYALS SURGE TO THE TOP OF THE TABLE
Sunday: Wicklow v London, Echelon Park Aughrim, 12.30pm; Sligo v Tyrone, Markievicz Park, 1pm
Only two games on this weekend’s schedule as Donegal and Meath met last weekend, with the Royals winning by ten points. It took them to the top of the table on full points from three games, two ahead of Donegal. Tyrone and Wicklow – one win each – will be hoping to get back on the promotions trail against Sligo and London, both of whom have lost their opening two games.
DIVISION 3A: MONAGHAN MAKE EARLY PROGRESS
Sunday: Monaghan v Louth, Castleblayney, 12.30pm; Armagh v Mayo, Athletic Grounds, 2pm; Fermanagh v Roscommon, Brewster Park, 2pm
Monaghan are the early pace-setters, having won their first two games and, with home advantage against Louth, they will be hoping to remain at the head of affairs. Monaghan beat Louth by seven points in last year’s League.
DIVISION 3B: CAVAN’S CHANCE TO TAKE OUTRIGHT LEAD
Saturday: Warwickshire v Longford, Pairc na hEireann, 1pm; Lancashire v Cavan, Abbottstown, 2pm
Leitrim, who don’t play next weekend and Cavan are both on full points after two rounds. That gives Cavan the chance to lead the table outright when they take on Lancashire, who beat them by 11 points last year. Warwickshire and Longford didn’t meet in 2022 as the Warwickshire were in 3A.