SATURDAY 25 March
Division 1 semi-final
Limerick v Tipperary, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 7.30pm
Division 1 relegation play-off
Westmeath v Laois, FBD Semple Stadium, 2pm
Division 2A semi-final
Offaly v Kerry, Glenisk O'Connor Park, 2pm
Division 2B semi-final
Wicklow v Donegal, Aughrim, 1pm
Division 3A semi-final
Armagh v Monaghan, Box-It Athletic Grounds, 2pm
Allianz HL Division 3B semi-final
Leitrim v Longford, Shane McGettigan Park, 2pm
SUNDAY 26 March
Division 1 semi-final
Kilkenny v Cork, UPMC Nowlan Park, 4pm
Division 2B relegation play-off
London v Sligo, Carrickmore, 1pm
We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
Live blogs of the two Division 1 semi-finals and live scores for all games on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News app.
Live commentary and updates from around the grounds on the RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday and Sunday Sport.
Limerick v Tipperary and Kilkenny v Cork live on TG4, Westmeath v Laois live on TG4 YouTube.
Highlights and reaction to all the weekend's action on Allianz League Sunday, RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player, from 9.30pm.
Scattered showers with some sunny spells in a mostly light northerly breeze. Highs will range from 7 degrees in Ulster up to 13 degrees in Munster. For more, visit met.ie.
So here we are then, the league semi-finals that no-one allegedly wants to win, given the final's proximity to championship.
There is a two-week break between that decider Sunday (9 April) and three of the four teams’ provincial round-robin opener – three weeks for Cork – just as there was last year.
Neither the 2022 league winners Waterford or runners-up the Rebels convinced in the early championship rounds so the perceived wisdom is now that reaching the final is a poisoned chalice.
Unless whoever gets there this year does well and then we will have to question everything we held so certain based off one year of a new calendar.
The league remains what it has always been, a warm-up for the championship, but surely another competitive game of reasonable intensity - barring injuries - holds some appeal over challenge matches.
First up on Saturday night is the visit of Tipperary, the only team with a 100% record, to the home of the All-Ireland champions.
New Tipp manager Liam Cahill has given debuts to several new players, perhaps most notably Gearoid O’Connor, and rebuilt confidence after the miserable championship campaign last year. Michael Breen, more recently a midfielder/half-forward has been steady at full-back alongside recent U20 All-Ireland winners Johnny Ryan and Eoghan Connolly.
You would expect Cahill to be wary of going too hard too early given how Waterford fared last summer but he told the Tipperary Star this week that "What we’re doing this year is the very same. We’re in the business of trying to win matches in Tipperary and we’re looking to get back to winning national titles."
Speaking on the RTÉ Podcast, Jackie Tyrell agreed, saying that Cahill "only knows one gear to a certain way, and that is foot to the floor".
""Even from the early stages of the league he's been driving this Tipp team; they have been performing really well. They have the acid test this weekend but it's a great position for them. We're still a month away from championship, so they can go hammer and tongs at Limerick. If they take a beating, Liam still has a month and has options to work around that."
Tipp haven’t beaten Limerick since the 2019 round robin – two weeks before losing a rematch in the Munster final – and victory would be a big psychological boost.
You wouldn’t expect any tactical ploys to be trialled so close to championship but it will be interesting to see whether Tipperary allow Limerick to build from the back or push up on the puckouts. One thing they will target is goals – they have scored 14 so far, an average of 2.8 per game, five of those coming from Jake Morris.
Having effectively completed their pre-season during last year’s league, Limerick’s earlier start back this season has led to an uptick in spring results, to the point where manager John Kiely could ominously describe last weekend’s 11-point win over Wexford as an "unsatisfactory" performance.
They won four in a row after a one-point loss to Cork in the opener but what will have been most pleasing to Kiely is the form of youngsters like Adam English, Colin Coughlan, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh and Michael Houlihan, who scored 0-12 on his debut against while deputising as free-taker for the now returned Aaron Gillane.
Limerick don’t have many weaknesses but a lack of evolution in the starting XV since 2018 was a potential one.
Coughlan and Ó Dálaigh have been named to start on Saturday with five All-Stars - Richie English, Seamus Flanagan, Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes and Dan Morrissey – on an impressively stocked bench. Cian Lynch and Sean Finn are both back after recent absences.
This one might mean more to Tipperary right now but Limerick would still prefer to maintain dominance over their provincial rivals, on their own turf to boot.
Tipperary: Barry Hogan; Eoghan Connolly, Michael Breen, Johnny Ryan; Dan McCormack, Bryan O’Mara, Ronan Maher; Conor Stakelum, Alan Tynan; Seamus Kennedy, Noel McGrath (capt), Gearoid O’Connor; Jason Forde, Patrick Maher, Jake Morris.
Subs: Rhys Shelley, Conor Bowe, John Campion, Pauric Campion, Joe Fogarty, Enda Heffernan, Mark Kehoe, John McGrath, Cian O'Dwyer, Gavin Ryan, Sean Ryan.
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Barry Nash; Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Colin Coughlan; Darragh Donovan, William O’Donoghue; Cathal O’Neill, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Peter Casey, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh.
Subs: David McCarthy, Conor Boylan, Richie English, Seamus Flanagan, Kyle Hayes, Gearoid Hegarty, Micheál Houlihan, Dan Morrissey, Barry Murphy, Fergal O’Connor, Oisin O’Reilly.
On Sunday afternoon, Cork’s now 25-year wait quest for a Division 1 crown continues at Nowlan Park.
They meet Kilkenny at the semi-final stage for the second year in a row, having won by four points at home last year.
Both teams are under new management and will be satisfied with their efforts to date.
Pat Ryan’s Rebels are unbeaten, having battled back to draw with Clare last weekend.
Losing Robbie O’Flynn was a big early blow but Ciaran Joyce has excelled at centre-back.
Like Liam Cahill, Ryan has emphasised raising green flags, saying in February "If we want to be doing anything this year we have to be getting three or four goals in every match."
So far they have notched 12, four against Galway and two versus Limerick, Westmeath, Wexford and Clare.
Seamus Harnedy hit 1-03 against the Banner while Padraig Power scored his second major in as many games, having made his first start in the win over the Model men.
Shane Kingston looks to be the go-to free-taker though they have also tried Declan Dalton and Conor Lehane in the absence of veteran Patrick Horgan, who hasn’t appeared since sustaining a chest injury in the opening-round win over Limerick.
Kilkenny boss Derek Lyng has had to deal with the dual challenges of succeeding a legend, in Brian Cody, and campaigning without some of his key men – the All-Ireland winning Ballyhale contingent and a lengthy injury list.
The rebuilding Cats still impressed though. Barring the home defeat to Tipperary, when they threatened a Cody-esque comeback, every other game was won, including an 11-point of drubbing of Dublin and a gritty fightback win over Waterford.
Billy Drennan has been a standout performer. The Galmoy man is still eligible for U20 but has stepped up as free-taker in TJ Reid’s absence and racked up 1-52 in five games.
This game might come too soon for the likes of Eoin Murphy, Adrian Mullen, Richie Reid and Walter Walsh but Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor could be in contention, Lyng said this week.
TJ Reid suggested recently that he would be unlikely to see action in the league and given the personnel challenges a win would be an achievement.
Kildare have qualified for the final and will be joined by Offaly or Kerry who play their semi-final on Saturday.
Offaly and Kildare, who drew last Sunday, both accumulated nine points from their five games but the Lilywhites qualified for the final because of their better scoring.
Kerry’s win over Derry last Sunday took them into third place.Offaly beat Kerry by a point (0-22 to 1-18) when they met in Round 3
Five wins from five games took Meath to top spot, earning them the direct place in the final. They will meet either Wicklow or Donegal, who do battle in Aughrim. Wicklow beat Donegal (2-24 to 0-11) in their Round 4 clash.
After an incredibly tight campaign where only three points separated the six teams, Roscommon, Armagh and Monaghan all finished on six points. Roscommon qualified for the final on scoring difference leaving Armagh and Monaghan to face off in the semi-final in the Athletic Grounds. Monaghan beat Armagh by a point in Round 2.
Cavan have qualified for the final, where they will play Leitrim or Longford who meet in the semi-final in Drumshanbo. Leitrim beat Longford by a point in their group game last weekend.