FIXTURES

Saturday 5 February

Division 1A
Cork v Clare, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm

Division 1B
Laois v Tipperary, MW Hire O'Moore Park, 6pm

Division 2B
Derry v Sligo, Celtic Park, 2pm

Division 3A
Armagh v Louth, Athletic Grounds, 2.30pm

Division 3B
Fermanagh v Cavan, Ederney, 2.30pm

Sunday 6 February

Division 1A
Wexford v Limerick, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 1.30pm
Galway v Offaly, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

Division 1B
Kilkenny v Antrim, UPMC Nowlan Park, 1pm
Dublin v Waterford, Parnell Park, 3.45pm

Division 2A
Kildare v Meath, Newbridge, 12pm
Westmeath v Kerry, TEG Cusack Park, 12.30pm
Down v Carlow, Ballycran, 1pm

Division 2B
Donegal v London, Letterkenny, 12pm
Mayo v Wicklow, Ballina Stephenites, 2pm

Division 3A
Warwickshire v Monaghan, Páirc na hÉireann, 1pm
Roscommon v Tyrone, Dr Hyde Park, 2pm

Division 3B
Lancashire v Leitrim, Abbotstown, 1pm

ONLINE

Live blogs each day on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News app.

RADIO

Live updates from around the country on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday and Sunday Sport.

TV

TG4 will have live coverage of Sunday's games at Wexford Park and Parnell Park, where Wexford host All-Ireland champions Limerick, and Dublin entertain Waterford respectively.

Cork versus Clare is live on GAAGO on Saturday in Ireland.

There will be full highlights of all the action on RTÉ's Allianz League Sunday on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player, including Davy Fitzgerald on analysis duty.

WEATHER

Rain spreading from the north could impact Saturday's games, while Sunday is meant to be showery.

More detail at met.ie.

The return of the small ball

With inter-county football having taken its competitive bow for the year last weekend, it's hurling's turn this week.

With the return of the round-robin provincial championships just over two months away, we might be set for a particularly hard to read league campaign. For two counties in Munster, and three in Leinster, the summer will be over long before the June bank holiday weekend.

That maybe a discussion for another day, but it's set to be a very quick - and packed - inter-county season for some.

Galway and Kilkenny are set to defend the title they jointly won last year, after their planned meeting in the Leinster final - which would have also doubled as the league decider - was thwarted by Dublin. Both divisions consist of six counties, with the top two teams in each to meet in the NHL semi-finals.

Dublin and Waterford - squads and managers with points to prove in 2022

All eyes will naturally be on Limerick, who are beginning what could prove to be yet another historic year for this group of players. The Treaty men appear to be motoring along very nicely, and like the great Kilkenny side of the 2006-2014 period, it might be a case of keeping the whole thing nicely simmering with a settled looking panel for John Kiely to work with.

After completing back-to-back All-Ireland titles for the first time for the county last August, they eye the opportunity to go one better in 2022.

That's a while away yet though. Their first assignment brings them to the sunny, and often windy, Wexford Park where Darragh Egan has taken over the reins from Davy Fitzgerald. Limerick showed early season form by winning the Munster Cup.

Wexford scraped a draw against Kilkenny before being fairly well put away by Dublin in the Walsh Cup final. The Wexford People reports that they will be without big name stars Lee Chin, Shaun Murphy and Kevin Foley for the arrival of the All-Ireland champions on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Dublin, who managed 19 and 16 point wins over Galway and the Yellowbellies respectively, will face a Waterford side who should have taken a fillip by the decision of Liam Cahill not to go after the vacant job in his native Tipperary.

Cork and Clare will open the action in Division 1 this weekend

Henry Shefflin, who had to confirm that he would not be panicking after losing a game in January, will put his Galway side up against Offaly, who are managed by his Ballyhale Shamrock team-mate Michael Fennelly. While the pair's native Kilkenny side, still managed by Brian Cody, are set to host Antrim.

Before all of that, Saturday will see the meeting Cork and Clare at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. How the Rebels put such a resounding All-Ireland final defeat behind them in 2022 will be interesting, while the Banner will be looking to find their groove again after two disappointing seasons during the Covid-impacted championships of 2020 and 2021.

Also on Saturday, it's Laois and Tipperary at Portlaoise. Premier manager Colm Bonnar told RTÉ Sport this week that the county was facing a "small rebuilding phase" in the weeks ahead.

Battle to stay in Division 1

At this remove you would think that one of Laois, Offaly or Antrim will be facing the drop come the last weekend of March. The bottom side in each division enters the relegation play-off.

The Faithful County, who will be playing in the Joe McDonagh Cup in the summer, are in 1A with five other counties who will all be competing for provincial and All-Ireland honours in the summer.


Read more: Offaly 'realistic' as they brace for return to Broadway


Laois, who are in the Leinster Championship this year, and Antrim (Joe McDonagh) meanwhile meet at Portlaoise on 6 March in 1B, and the beaten team there might well be the team going into the play-off.

Of course the nature of this year's league, with its proximity to championship, means that anything could happen over the next seven weekends.

Division 2A looks competitive with Kerry Down and Carlow, who all won three games there last year, set to be joined by relegated Westmeath, who will play in the Leinster Championship later in the year.

Laois and Offaly look likely to be fighting the dreaded drop

Pundit's view

Six-time Allianz League winner, and RTÉ GAA analyst, Jackie Tyrrell, told this week's RTÉ GAA Podcast that the league will likely be targeted more by some counties than others.

"The whole round-robin [of the championship] dynamic has a huge influence on the league," said the former Kilkenny defender.

"I do think there's a couple of teams that will be earmarking a big performance. Silverware for the likes of a Waterford or a Dublin would do an awful lot, versus a Kilkenny, Tipperary or even a Limerick.

"I think the journey that Liam Cahill and Mattie Kenny are on with those counties, three or four years into it, winning something would be a huge boost for the panel, for morale and for the confidence of them. So I expect strong performances from them.

"Limerick will be there or thereabouts, Kilkenny will always compete, Cork might be blasé about it, but the dynamic of the league has changed. It's all about unearthing talent, developing your panel, getting miles into the older personnel of the panel, so that they're ready to hit the ground running when the round-robin arrives."

Listen to the RTÉ GAA Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.