Tipperary v Clare, Semple Stadium, Sat 7pm

Most matches in the league are won by the home team. It was 75% last year and it was over 70% the year before as well.

But I just fancy Clare to win this one. I think they're more settled. Liam Sheedy is just back with Tipperary and it think it might take them a little bit of time and they'll have one eye on the championship. 

I think that win in the Munster League will give Clare confidence so I'd tip them to win this one.

The pressure is off this year with the format. There's no relegation this year from Division 1A. The only team dropping out will be the bottom side from 1B. From 2020, the two divisions will be merged. 

This year gives everyone an ideal opportunity to blood players and try them out. I'm not sure in a national competition that this should be the focus.

But they will be competitive. For the players, it'll be the only release they have from all the training. I think the matches will be competitive but there'll be less pressure on the managers. 

Kilkenny v Cork, Nowlan Park, Sun 2pm

It's a bugbear of mine but we've no teams. We're here trying to analyse matches on a Friday morning without knowing the line-ups which is not ideal. We have the Fitzgibbon Cup on at the moment and a lot of players are involved in that. 

I think county boards and the GAA could do more to get the teams out on a Thursday night so there could be articles written and the games could be promoted.  

But Kilkenny in Nowlan Park don't get beaten as a rule. I think that's going to continue. They're without TJ Reid and the Ballyhale guys but there'll be other lads getting their opportunity. So I expect them to win at home. 

Wexford v Limerick, Wexford Park, Sun 2pm

Limerick have announced their team. It's a very, very strong team going to Wexford. Eleven of the side that started the All-Ireland final. 

But their preparations started later than everyone else and they were on holidays not too long ago. Wexford have been training for a number of months. 

I think Wexford might have that little bit more training done and I expect them to get through there.

Division 1B predictions

Dublin v Carlow, Parnell Park, Sat 7pm
Galway v Laois, Pearse Stadium, Sun 2pm
Waterford v Offaly, Semple Stadium, Sun 2pm

Dublin and Galway, at home, should win. Waterford and Offaly are playing in Thurles. Waterford got a slap on the wrist for their training camp - the rest of the counties must have gotten away with it! - but I expect them to win.

That's a division within a division. I think for Carlow, Offaly and Laois, possibly this is the most important league they'll have played. 

Because whoever goes down is gone out of the top twelve. It will be a relegation battle between those three teams and while none of them are facing each other this week, I think those will be big matches and possibly the most competitive matches. Because they mean so much to the losers. 

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