SUNDAY 31 MARCH
Camogie League Division 1 final
Kilkenny v Galway, Croke Park, 12pm
Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final
Limerick v Waterford, Croke Park, 2pm
Allianz FL Division 1 final
Kerry v Mayo, Croke Park, 4pm
Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 11:45am
Live commentary of the camogie final is on Radio 1 Extra at 12:00, and the hurling and football are on Sunday Sport, RTÉ Radio 1, from 2pm.
Live coverage of the three finals on TG4. Also live overseas on GAAGO.
Highlights of all the weekend's action on Allianz League Sunday on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 9.30pm.
Sunday: Dry and cloudy at first, but some brighter spells developing during the afternoon. Quite a cool day, with maximum temperatures of 8 to 12 degrees, in light to moderate north to northeast winds. For more go to met.ie.
Mayo go again in search of Croke Park silverware
A fortnight on from when the rain pelted down in Tralee, Kerry and Mayo will renew their often spicy rivalry in this top-tier decider.
The Green and Red ran out winners at Austin Stack Park and in doing so breathed renewed life into a campaign that many thought had floundered after defeats to Dublin and Galway. In truth, Mayo were shocking against the Dubs, offering nothing in the way of intensity. Somewhat clueless would describe their attempts at getting an edge over their neighbours when they had the chance in Castlebar.
Matthew Ruane beats Brian Kelly this time, but what about that pass by @KevinMcLough?!?! Watch highlights @RTE2 Sunday night on Allianz League Sunday #RTEGAA https://t.co/Xy4PRzvrHL pic.twitter.com/sSayE7YZTi— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) March 16, 2019
A 67th-minute goal from Matthew Ruane propelled Mayo to victory in the Kingdom - a deserved success in a game where they started without regulars like Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Paddy Durcan, Seamie O’Shea and Cillian O’Connor,
And last weekend, James Horan's troops sealed their ticket to the final when defeating Monaghan on home soil.
Let's cut to the case, it's all about winning Sam for Mayo. Horan is fashioning a side with that in mind and the likes of Ruane, Fionn McDonagh and Fergal Boland have provided an added dimension this spring. Also, some of the more senior players in the squad have found their spark again.
A defeat against the Kingdom won't define Mayo's season, but there are benefits to winning on Sunday, to have that winning feeling at GAA HQ for a side too accustomed to sob stories on the biggest stage.
It would top off a fine start to Horan's second coming.
For Mayo defender Chris Barrett, there is much to be happy with early on in how the manger is piecing things together.
"He has huge confidence in himself and he transfers that to the players," he told RTÉ Sport.
"There's a huge excitement around the place and collectively we are trying to get our confidence levels up to a place where we want them to be. Our progression in the league has shown that we are on the right track.
"Competitiveness in the squad is at an all-time high and that's the way James wants it.
"A lot of that has to do with the younger players that James has brought through who are now putting up their hands. Back in the day the challenge was to get on the 15, now it's a bonus to be on the match-day squad of 26."
Kerry have been the best team in Division 1. Their attack is frighteningly good and David Clifford is now back in action too. Much has been said about how more secure they are in defence and they have tightened up. They conceded 4-80 (same as Mayo) in this year's league compared to 10-97 last year.
That said, Tomás Ó Sé on League Sunday, while offering much praise still has some doubts over their last line of defence, and it was clearly evident in the second half in Tralee on 16 March that Mayo were dominating Kerry's full-back line.
For Kerry, this final will more than likely be their last real test before they hit the Super 8s on the weekend of 13/14 July. They will be keen to add a 21st league crown to their collection.
Mayo, who were last successful in 2001, are eyeing a 12th title.
With weather conditions set to be benign, an intriguing finale to the league is in prospect.
A novel pairing
These two teams are no strangers to meeting in Munster but surprisingly it's their first ever meeting in a league final.
Limerick are fourth on the honour roll with 11 titles but the bulk of those came from the competition's only five-in-a-row (1934-1938).
They haven't lifted the Dr Croke Cup since winning a novel October final in Galway in 1997 and appeared in only one decider since - a six-point loss to Kilkenny in 2006.
Waterford won just their third league ever under Derek McGrath in 2015 and only conceded the title to Clare the following year after a replay.
They are the fourth Division 1B team in five years to reach the final - the last three (Waterford, Clare and Galway) were all victorious - and its the first decider at Croke Park since Dublin's victory in 2011.
Another landmark is also on the cards: the hurling and, subsequent, football finals will both be decided on penalty shootouts if they end level after extra-time.
Limerick loving it
The All-Ireland champions have eschewed the traditional slow spring start, losing just one of their 1A games - a slightly unlucky defeat to Cork - and giving game time to the likes of Conor Boylan, Mikey O'Brien and Paddy O'Loughlin in the process.
They are expected to contend again this summer, but for forward Aaron Gillane (scorer of 1-36 to date) the league is its own reward.
"It’s great to be a Limerick hurler at the moment and it’s great to be in another final at Croke Park," he told RTÉ Sport. "Last year boosted the confidence levels of everybody involved, but what happened then doesn't have any effect on how hard we train now. We're training as hard as ever.
"As for the new lads, well John (Kiely) is not bringing players in to give them a bit of game-time, they are worthy starters and are flying in training. They deserve that starters jersey and are putting pressure on the rest. No one is guaranteed a place just because they started last year."
"If we look beyond Sunday, then we’re going to get a hammering against Waterford. All our attention is on them. Waterford have been flying it in the last few weeks and they twice beat Galway. No one in the Limerick panel has an Allianz League medal at the end of the day and we'll be going all out to win it."
"The summer will still be there in the summer time."
Limerick: Nicky Quaid; Tom Condon, Sean Finn, Richie English; Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Cian Lynch, Darragh O’Donovan; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Peter Casey, Graeme Mulcahy.
Déise are the days
Páraic Fanning has had a very smooth start to life as Waterford manager.
They only lost to Dublin in 1B and beat Galway twice, including a comeback victory with 14 men last weekend, to get to the final.
With two 'proper' home games to come at Walsh Park and no sign of a repeat of the injury crisis that decimated the team last summer, optimism will be high that Waterford can make it back to Croker later this year.
Waterford captain Noel Connors is relishing the chance to play at HQ again for the first time since the 2017 All-Ireland final.
"Over a career you don’t get too many opportunities to play in Croke Park," he told the Waterford News & Star. "To get an opportunity so early on in the year is fantastic. It’s important that we get up there and put in a performance.
"It’s not just about going up there and being a part of it, it’s going out there and doing what we did against Galway."
That's assuming Connors' partner Siobhan isn't in labour at the time - their first child was due on Thursday.
"I was talking to Paraic [Fanning, Waterford manager] during the week and he said ‘make sure she holds on it for another couple of weeks’. She wasn’t thinking the same."
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane McNulty, Callum Lyons, Noel Connors; Philip Mahony, Tadhg De Búrca, Kevin Moran; Jamie Barron, Austin Gleeson; Mikey Kearney, Michael Walsh, Pauric Mahony; Peter Hogan, Stephen Bennett, Shane Bennett.
Michael Duignan's verdict
"The two best teams of the league have made it to the final.
"They are going to be two huge players in the Championship. I think Limerick and Waterford will both come out of Munster this year and will be big challengers for the All-Ireland.
"National Leagues don't grow on trees. Kilkenny have won nine in Brian Cody's term and gone on to win 11 All-Irelands. It's a big stepping stone to All-Ireland success and I expect Limerick to do it."
Cats close in on history
Kilkenny are on the brink of joining very rare company in becoming a four-in-a-row Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1-winning outfit.
Despite getting the better of All-Ireland champions Cork in the semi-final , the presence of Galway in the opposite corner ensures that they will have to dig very deep indeed if they are to follow in footsteps of the Cork seven-in-a-row crew of 1995-2001 and the 1987-90 Kilkenny unit that included current manager Ann Downey.
Success would also move the Black and Ambers to within one of Cork at the top of the roll of honour with a 15th title, while Galway are pursuing a fifth Division 1 crown, the most recent of which arrived in 2015.
Galway reached the All-Ireland semi-final in Cathal Murray's first season in charge last year and appear to have continued to move in the right direction, matching industry and defensive resolve with the attacking prowess for which they have long been renowned.
They began with an eight-point victory over Tipperary before annihilating Wexford and then having eight points to spare again on Waterford. A gritty draw with Cork secured top seeding on score difference.
That set up a semi-final against Limerick, whose only loss had come by a point to Kilkenny, but goals from Niamh Hanniffy and Ailish O’Reilly helped Galway to a 16-point triumph.
Kilkenny have been one of the top two teams in the country for a sustained period now, appearing in five of the last six All-Ireland Finals, and victorious in 2016, in addition to their National League dominance.
They emerged from the group stages with a 100% record and met old rivals Cork in the semi-final. They have had the upper hand over the Rebels in the spring competition in recent years and maintained that trend with a three-point win. They will be desperate to replicate that at the business end of the Championship but that is another day’s work.
Right now, they will be pleased to be on a winning run despite being without Shelly Farrell for the season, last year’s captain having gone travelling, and looking to build their squad depth, the likes of Niamh Deely, Kelly Ann Doyle and Michelle Teehan among those seeing plenty of game time.
Many of the reliables are still there of course – Denise Gaule, Katie Power, Meighan and Anna Farrell, Michelle Quilty, Davina Tobin, Claire Phelan and 2018 players’ player of the year Anne Dalton, whose scoring rate has increased notably with a more advanced role to date than in previous seasons.
Galway possess the talent within their squad to beat any team and will surely recall how hard they pushed Kilkenny last August when looking for encouragement. This is one that could be in doubt right to the end.