Carlow v London, Dr Cullen Park, Saturday, 3pm
By Micil Glennon
Two teams who will play Division 2A hurling next season get the Leinster Championship (proper) up and running on Saturday.
But sides have arrived at this juncture from different directions, with Carlow coming down from 1B, after losing a play-off with Antrim, and London beating Meath on their way up from 2B.
So John Meyler's men come in with a record of six losses from six, meaning they have nowhere to go but up but it's hardly a confidence-inspiring build-up.
That said, there were some close calls in those defeats, most notably Offaly required a late goal to prevail, and Wexford rallied to win the opening contest.
Barrowsiders defender Eoin Nolan is not taking the visitors' challenge lightly.
Nolan said on hoganstand.com: "We have been hearing London have a few strong hurlers. If we take them lightly, like anything in sport, the day you overlook some is the day you will be caught.”
It is the first time in 30 years that London have played a Championship game at this level. In that year they beat Galway in an All-Ireland quarter-final.
The Exiles accounted for Mayo, Roscommon, Down, Armagh and Meath on their way out of Division 2B and manager Eamonn Phelan will be hoping to build on those wins.
The Kilkenny native said on theirishworld.com: “They may never get this chance again, it’s a once in a lifetime. Grab it with both hands and let’s see where it takes us.
“It’s unknown territory but it’s one of the reasons myself and the two lads (Tom Simms and Thomas Quaid) stayed on, to have a crack at Leinster and to have a crack at the Liam MacCarthy.”
Neither side will be looking past Saturday's tie but the prize for a win is a tasty-looking quarter-final against either Antrim or Laois.
Since their admittance to the Leinster Championship three years ago, Carlow have yet to claim a victory and this is a real chance to change that.
Carlow: Frank Foley, Alan Corcoran, Eoin Nolan, Hugh Paddy O'Byrne, Diarmuid Byrne, David English, James O'Hara, Richard Coady, Jack Kavanagh, Edward Coady (c), Shane Kavanagh, Sean Murphy, John Michael Nolan, Marty Kavanagh, Paul Coady.
London: To follow...
Live television coverage of Cavan v Armagh and Galway v Mayo on The Sunday Game Live from 13:15 on Sunday 19 May on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only).
Live radio coverage of all the day’s action featuring Galway v Mayo from 14:00 on RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ RnaG and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).
Highlights and analysis of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game from 21:30 on Sunday 19 May on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only).