Former Offaly hurler Michael Duignan believes that despite a "very impressive" season to date, beating Kilkenny will prove beyond Davy Fitzgerald's side on Sunday.

The Model men travel to Nowlan Park for an Allianz Hurling League Division 1 quarter-final having surpassed all expectations in the Clare man's first season in charge, winning promotion to the top tier with a 100% record.

"Wexford have been very impressive," Duignan told RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland. "They're the only unbeaten team in Division 1A or 1B.

"The two big matches they had were Galway and Limerick and they won both of those.

"They're out of 1B for the first time since 2011 so it's been a huge year so far for them.

"But Kilkenny are very hard to beat at home.

"The last few weeks, we've seen them coming back to top form, drawing against Tipperary and beating Dublin last week. I think Kilkenny will win it."

The two-time All-Ireland winner isn't holding out much hope for his native county.

Offaly finished fourth in 1B on points difference after winning just one in five games and are up against All-Ireland champions and 1A table-toppers Tipperary in Tullamore.

"They don't have a chance really," he admitted.

"Tipperary seem to have cruised through the league. They were beaten by Cork last week but they had already qualified for the quarter-final.

"They've only been playing seven or eight of their Championship team in the league matches and yet they've proven to be too strong for almost everyone.

"It'll be interesting to see what sort of team they put out as they build towards the Championship but Tipperary will win."

Duignan expects Cork to account for Munster rivals Limerick in Pairc Ui Rinn.

"Cork have been very impressive in the league so far," he reflected.

"(There was) a little bit of inconsistency early on. They had a good win against Clare, then Dublin came to town and they lost that one. 

"Since then they've had a couple of very good wins.

"They're playing a great style of hurling and have a few new forwards that have really brightened things up for them.

"Limerick are struggling. They couldn't beat their two big rivals in 1B, Galway and Wexford, and Cork's form is better."

Duignan is less sure about Waterford however, suggesting that they might be keeping their powder dry for summer after staging a late escape against Clare last week.

"One thing we don't know is how teams want to progress. Do they want to win the league or are they happy enough just to get ready for the Championship?

"We don't know what's going on behind closed doors and I have that feeling with Waterford that after staying up in 1A they might be looking further down the line.

"Galway might have more to play for at home in Salthill."

As for the relegation play-off, the Sunday Game analyst is backing Clare to edge Dublin and avoid an instant return to the second tier.

"In many ways this is the biggest game of the weekend," he said.

"Division 1A is so important and with only six teams in it you're getting such competitive hurling.

"As we've seen with Wexford, when you go down it's so hard to come back up. We've seen Limerick down there for a number of years as well.

"Dublin have been short the Cuala players but I've seen them a couple of times live and the spirit is there. They've just been lacking a bit of quality with so many players missing.

"Clare have been up and down in the league. They have some fantastic players as well but should have won against Waterford last week and threw it away really.

"There are question marks over both of them but I think it will be an open, fast game and that will suit Clare.

"With the quality they have up front, I think they'll get over the line."

Listen to updates and reports on all of the day's action on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 and watch highlights on Allianz League Sunday on RTÉ2 from 2130.