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Hurling: Dooley on the weekend league action

Updated: Sunday, 16 Mar 2014 12:01 | Comments

Kilkenny are the visitors to Parnell Park for the first of the weekend games in Division 1A
Kilkenny are the visitors to Parnell Park for the first of the weekend games in Division 1A

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A glance at the Division 1A table leaves you in no doubt that things are finely balanced.

In the words of Joe Dooley, who himself won a League title to go along with his three All-Irelands, this weekend is “make or break”.

As things stand Waterford, Kilkenny and Clare lie on four points, with Galway, Tipperary and Dublin on two points each. A reverse for the latter three this weekend could see them in a scrap to avoided the dreaded play-off at the end of the month.

First up in the penultimate series of divisional games is the meeting of Dublin and Kilkenny at Parnell Park on Saturday evening.

Our pundit is going for a home win.

“It’s important to win your home games. Dublin haven’t been good on the road so far; they were poor enough in Walsh Park the last day. Everybody knows how good Kilkenny are and they were much better than the three-point victory suggested against Galway last Sunday.

“I can see them beating Waterford at home on the last day and that will seal their quarter-final spot. Obviously they will going all out to win on Saturday, but I just feel the Dubs might have the greater hunger and will be helped along by their home support. They have to go to Nenagh to play Tipperary in their last game and that won’t be easy.”

We have mentioned the Premier County and Dooley has not been impressed by what they have served up so far – but feels they could get back on track against Galway at Pearse Stadium.

“I thought Tipperary were lucky to beat Waterford the first day and they have conceded nine goals in their two matches since. Okay, they did net five goals against Kilkenny – but you'd have to say that Eamon O’Shea wouldn’t be happy with the effort so far.

"He said earlier in the year that his main focus is on Limerick in the Championship, but relegation to Division 1B wouldn’t be a good confidence-booster ahead of the summer.

"So far Galway haven’t been firing on all cylinders. The defeat to Kilkenny the last day flattered them and I think Tipp will be more up for it on Sunday."

Elsewhere in the top flight, Clare play host to Waterford. After their win over Tipperary, Dooley feels the Banner are now on a roll and could very well head the table come a week on Sunday.

He explained: “I think Clare will beat Waterford on Sunday and then go on to defeat Galway at home on the last day. Depending on the scoring difference that could see them top the Division.

“Aside from their defeat against Dublin, they’ve been really good this spring and look in good shape ahead of the summer.

"Derek McGrath is doing a good job in Waterford. The side showed a lot of resolve in defeating Dublin and that character will be required in the next two games. Waterford need to be playing in the top flight.”

Onwards to Division 1B and Dooley was recently struck by the difference in intensity between the top two tiers.

“I was in Páirc Ui Rinn last Sunday to watch Cork play Offaly and the tempo in that game was way below what you’d get in 1A. There was a world of difference.

“Cork will feel that they should be playing in Division 1A, but they have a bit of work to do to catch Limerick in terms of the scoring average. They have a chance to improve things against Antrim on this weekend but hey’ll have to up their game, however.

"Limerick travel to Offaly on Sunday and they are away to Laois after that. For me they are still the favourites to get promoted. However I do think Offaly will put it up to them in Tullamore.

“It’s a game I’m looking forward to in the hope that my own county can rediscover their pride in what has been a disappointing campaign for them so far.”

"Wexford and Laois can be pleased with their showing so far. They meet at Wexford Park and I think it will be close, with the home side just to shade it."

FIXTURES

SATURDAY 15 MARCH

Allianz HL Division 1A
Dublin v Kilkenny, Parnell Park, 7pm

SUNDAY 16 MARCH

Allianz HL Division 1A
Clare v Waterford, Cusack Park, 2pm
Galway v Tipperary, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

Allianz HL Division 1B 
Antrim v Cork, Ballycastle, 2pm
Offaly v Limerick, O'Connor Park, 2pm
Wexford v Laois, Wexford Park, 2.30pm

Allianz HL Division 2A
Kildare v Westmeath, Newbridge, 12.30pm
Kerry v Carlow, Austin Stack Park, 2pm

Allianz HL Division 2B
Mayo v Wicklow, MacHale Park, 12.45pm
Armagh v Meath, Athletic Grounds, 2pm
Fingal v Down, Swords, 2pm

Allianz HL Division 3A
Louth v Longford, Darver, 12.45pm
Donegal v Monaghan, Letterkenny, 2pm 
Fermanagh v Roscommon, Brewster Park, 2pm 

Allianz HL Division 3B 
Leitrim v Sligo, Ballinamore, 2pm 

Live radio coverage of Saturday’s Allianz Football and Hurling League action on An tSraith Náisiúnta from 19:00 on Saturday 15 March on RTÉ RnaG and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide). Live coverage and updates of all Sunday’s action on Sunday Sport from 14:00 on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide). Television highlights on League Sunday from 19:30 on RTÉ Two and RTE.ie (Ireland only).

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