By James McMahon
The final series of matches in Allianz Hurling League Division 1B sees Anthony Daly’s Dublin bid to follow Limerick into the divisional decider.
Quite simply you would have to fancy them to overcome Carlow at Parnell Park and so set up a re-match with John Allen’s charges next weekend.
That encounter is sure to be keenly fought in the wake of the Croke Park clash on 16 March clash that saw Limerick prevail by six points.
Their resolve was tested early on by the Dubs, who had numerous goal chances.
Aided by some tenacious defending, the Treatymen survived the onslaught.
Declan Hannon, Kevin Downes and Graeme Mulcahy eventually found their scoring touch and the victory was secured.
Fast forward a week against Offaly and Hannon’s accuracy from frees was letting him and team down, while opportunities to raise green flags were fluffed.
Nevertheless, they ran out comfortable winners as Ollie Baker’s outfit struggled against the wind in the second period.
So where are Limerick at? Defensively they are solid and have a mobile forward unit.
They started the league with less than impressive wins over Antrim and Carlow, but crucially upped their game against Dublin. That’s the pitch they need to be at.
Getting back to the top flight would be a huge plus and having a crack at one of the big guns in a league semi-final would be a useful workout ahead of the championship.
This weekend they are at home to Wexford and the drive to remain unbeaten should see them prevail.
Dublin, league champions in 2011, lost their way last year.
Like Limerick, they also crave a return to the top tier. I did predict that Wexford would do a number on them last week. How wrong I was!
Goals from David O’Callaghan and Conor McCormack set them on their way, while Liam Rushe and Michael Carton stood tall against the Model advances. Dublin will beat Carlow and qualify for the final.
Yet, only the Dubs or Limerick will be in Division 1A next year. Both of them should be scrapping with the big guns.
Time is too short to have it out with the administrators now. How many times has it been said that that hurling needs more big games?
Elsewhere in the division, Carlow will contest the relegation decider. John Meyler’s side have for the most part been competitive this spring.
Yet their 10-point defeat against Antrim will have sapped their confidence coming after their defeat to Offaly – a tie they could easily have won.
As for the Saffrons, they will have the extra incentive to beat Offaly on home ground.
If Wexford lose to Limerick by a big score, then Kevin Ryan’s side could avoid the scrap for survival.
Much to play for on the final day, that’s how the onlookers would want it.