It was another intriguing weekend in the highly-competitive Allianz Hurling League, with counties battling it out to avoid relegation, gain promotion, or advance to the quarter-finals. Jason Redmond discusses the four major talking points following this weekend’s games.
1. Limerick Are Back In The Top Tier
After eight years out of the top flight, the Treaty County have won promotion after a dogfight battle against Galway in Salthill.
With Galway eight points ahead at one stage, it looked like Limerick’s promotions ambitions were to take a devastating hit. However, an impressive comeback ensued, with John Kiely’s men defeating the current All-Ireland and League champions and returning to the top division.
The performance was a testament to Limerick’s never-say-die attitude, and it bodes well for the rest of the competition.
2. Traditional Kilkenny Are Back
Wexford traveled to Nowlan Park on Sunday in search of their fourth successive win against the Cats.
However, with Brian Cody’s team needing a win to avoid a relegation battle, it was always going to be an uphill battle for Fitzgerald’s charges. A twelve-point haul from TJ Reid was enough to see the Cats come out on top with a 0-22 to 0-19 victory.
Cody, like many people in Kilkenny, will be hoping that this match will act as a spark for the Cats to return to their traditional winning ways.
With a potential League semi-final down the line and a definite Leinster Championship match in June, this victory could give the Cats a psychological edge entering future games against the Yellowbellies.
3. Dublin Find Form To Avoid Relegation Battle
With new manager Pat Gilroy taking the helm ahead of Dublin’s 2018 season, there was a revived energy surrounding the Dublin camp.
Despite this, it was undoubtedly a difficult campaign for the Dubs – as they needed a victory in their final game to avoid being placed into a relegation battle.
Likewise, their opponents Laois would need to attain the win to avoid similar faith.
In the end, Dublin found form and ran out eventual winners on a scoreline of 3-23 to 0-17 and they’ll now face Tipperary in the League quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, the O’Moore County will now face a stiff test in Antrim in the relegation final.
4. Questioning The Quarter-Finals
From staring down the barrel of a relegation final to now finding themselves in a quarter-final, Dublin’s 2018 League campaign highlights how the current structure of the NHL makes little sense.
Many will still ponder why there are quarter-finals in this competition at all. However, there are – and now, we have four quarter-final pairings.
Wexford will play Galway in Wexford Park and a derby clash between Clare and Limerick are two games bound to entertain hurling folk.
Below, you’ll find them all:
- Galway vs Wexford
- Clare vs Limerick
- Kilkenny vs Offaly
- Dublin vs Tipperary.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena.