Saturday night Allianz Leagues fever will descend on Croke Park when Dublin hurlers and footballers take on All-Ireland champions, Tipperary and Cork respectively in a spectacular double header.
Its Dublin v Tipperary in hurling at 5.15pm, followed at 7.30pm by Dublin v Cork in football.
Returning to Croke Park for Allianz Leagues action is certain to prove hugely popular among Dublin supporters while the sheer attractiveness of the double-header will also appeal to neutrals. And with Jedward providing the entertainment between the games, the Dublin Spring Series opener promises to be a great occasion.
DIVISION 1: DUBLIN v CORK IN ALL-IRELAND SEMI-FINAL RE-RUN
Saturday: Dublin v Cork, Croke Park, 7.30.
Sunday (2.30): Mayo v Kerry, Castlebar; Down v Galway, Newry; Armagh v Monaghan, Athletic Grounds.
Pride of place goes to the re-run of the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final, featuring Dublin and Cork, the reigning Allianz League (Div 1) and All-Ireland champions, which is the second leg of Saturday night’s hurling-football Croke Park spectacular. Cork beat Dublin by seven points in Round 5 of last year’s Allianz League but it was much closer when they met again in a thrilling All-Ireland semi-final which Cork won by a single point.
Both sides got their League seasons off to a great starts with ‘away’ wins over Armagh (Dublin) and Kerry (Cork) which adds to the intrigue of Saturday’s encounter. Monaghan were the only other winners in Round 1 and will be attempting to build on that when they travel to Armagh.
Kerry face the long journey to Mayo to take on a side that launched a brave fightback to earn a draw against Down in the first round. Kerry lost to Cork by a point in their first game and will feel that it’s crucial to pick up two points to stay with what will be a very fast-moving pace this spring.
Down, who were promoted to Division 1 last year before reaching the All-Ireland final, will have home advantage against Galway in Newry. Galway lost by five points to Monaghan in the first round so already there’s pressure on Tomas O Flaharta’s men to pick up points.
DIVISION 2: LAOIS, KILDARE, DERRY MAKE IMPRESSIVE STARTS
Saturday: Tyrone v Donegal, Omagh, 7.30.
Sunday: Kildare v Derry, Newbridge, 2.45; Laois v Antrim, Portlaoise, 1.0; Meath v Sligo, Navan, 2.30.
Laois, Kildare and Derry all got their campaigns off to a winning start while Donegal and Sligo drew. Now, Kildare and Derry go head to head in Newbridge with the winners putting themselves in a very good position to launch a strong promotion bid. It’s a re-run of last year’s All-Ireland qualifier tie which Kildare won by 1-15 to 0-9 in Celtic Park in a game where John Doyle scored 0-6 for the winners.
Laois, managed by former Armagh All-Ireland winners, Justin McNulty beat Meath by three points in the first round and will again have home advantage as they welcome Antrim to O’Moore Park. Meath will be hoping that home advantage in Navan will help them to pick up their first points against Sligo while it’s an all-Ulster clash in Omagh on Saturday night when, Tyrone, who lost to Derry in the first round, host Donegal. Tyrone dropped down from Division 1 last year so it’s vital to win on Saturday if they are to put themselves in a position to launch a strong bid to return to the top flight at the first attempt.
DIVISION 3: FOUR FIRST ROUND WINNERS IN ROUND 2 CLASHES
Sunday (2.30 unless stated): Waterford v Limerick, Dungarvan; Westmeath v Cavan, Mullingar; Louth v Tipperary, Drogheda; Offaly v Wexford, Tullamore, 2.45.
The four first round winners clash in two interesting pairings with the two winners moving into the joint top spot. Meanwhile, the four first round losers meet in the other two games with all of them determined avoid a defeat which would leave them in relegation territory very early in the campaign.
Offaly, first round winners over Cavan, will be at home in Tullamore as they take on a Wexford team that hit Waterford for 4-11 in the first round. Louth maintained their progressive surge with a win over Westmeath and will take on Tipperary who had four points to spare over Limerick in the first round.
DIVISION 4: ROSCOMMON, WICKLOW HEAD EARLY PACE
Saturday: Fermanagh v Longford, Enniskillen, 7.30.
Sunday (2.30): Wicklow v London, Aughrim; Kilkenny v Leitrim, Freshford; Roscommon v Carlow, Dr. Hyde Park.
Unlike the top three Divisions where only one round has been played, Division 4 heads for Round 3 next weekend with Connacht champions, Roscommon and Wicklow heading the way with three points from a possible four. Roscommon, who drew with Longford and beat London, will be at home to Carlow while Wicklow will also have home advantage against London.
Fermanagh’s clash with Longford could yet prove very significant in terms of promotion while Kilkenny, who have already conceded 5-33 in two games will be at home to Leitrim.
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE: ROUND 2
Early trends aren’t always reliable but, nonetheless, the second round of the Allianz Leagues is always hugely important, not least for counties who lost in the opening series.
Losing the first two games leaves a team in relegation territory very early in the season while two wins creates an impressive momentum which is quite often built upon.
So then, next Sunday’s second round of the Allianz Hurling League promises to deliver many intriguing contests across all the Divisions and especially in Division 1 where competition is at its most intense.
DIVISION 1: TIPPERARY RETURN TO CROKE PARK
Saturday: Dublin v Tipperary, Croke Park, 5.15.
Sunday (2.30) unless stated: Offaly v Galway, Tullamore, 1.0; Kilkenny v Cork, Nowlan Park; Wexford v Waterford, Wexford Park.
The atmosphere will be different and so too will the opposition but Tipperary will still feel a warm glow when they return to Croke Park on Saturday for what will be their first visit there since winning the All-Ireland senior hurling title last September. Their side will show several changes from that which beat Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final but with competition for places so intense they will bring a sharp cutting edge to what promises to be a very interesting opening to the Saturday night spectacular as they take on Dublin at 5.15.
Dublin beat Tipperary by 1-21 to 1-12 in last year’s League and, after taking a point off Waterford in Walsh Park last Sunday, will relish the chance to build their way carefully through the early stages of the League.
Cork, who beat Offaly last Sunday, travel to Nowlan Park to take on Kilkenny, whom they beat by two points (0-18 to 1-13) in last year’s League before losing heavily to Brian Cody’s squad in the All-Ireland semi-final. Rather unusually, Kilkenny lost three games in last year’s League but made an excellent start to this season’s competition, beating Tipperary by seven points last Saturday.
Galway had 21 points to spare over Wexford and now travel to Tullamore to take on Offaly whom they beat in the League by four points last year. The sides later drew in the Leinster semi-final before Galway won the replay by two points. Offaly lost to Cork last Sunday but, with home advantage, will be trying to pick up their first League points of the season.
Wexford will also be hoping that home advantage creates an impetus to enable them put the misery of last Sunday’s 21 point defeat by Galway behind them when they host Waterford who drew with Dublin last Sunday.
DIVISION 2: CLARE UNDER EARLY PRESSURE
Saturday: Limerick v Westmeath, Gaelic Grounds, 2.30.
Sunday: Antrim v Clare, Casement Park, 12.30; Kerry v Down, Tralee 1.30; Laois v Carlow, Portlaoise, 2.45.
Clare and Limerick started the campaign as favourites to reach the final but, having lost heavily to Limerick last Sunday, the pressure is already beginning to mount on Clare, especially since their second game is against other promotion hopefuls, Antrim in Casement Park. Clare won the corresponding game by a point last year.
Antrim made a good start to this year’s campaign, beating Kerry by six points. Limerick’s attempt to return to Division 1 at the first attempt got off to a great start with a nine-point win over Clare and, with home advantage against Westmeath on Saturday they will be well-fancied to pick up two more points.
Laois and Carlow had some close encounters in League and Championship last year so there will be big interest in their clash in Portlaoise. Laois, now under the management of Brendan Fennelly, had a big win over Westmeath in the first round while Carlow lost to Down so this is, in effect, a four-pointer in the individual battle between the close neighbours.
Kerry, promoted from Division 3 last spring, found Antrim six points too good for them last Sunday and now take on Down, who beat Carlow.
DIVISION 3A: FIRST ROUND LOSERS v FIRST ROUND WINNERS
Sunday: Armagh v London, Athletic Grounds, 1.0; Kildare v Derry, Newbridge, 1.0; Meath v Wicklow, Trim, 1.0.
Derry, Wicklow and London all won last Sunday while Kildare, Meath and Armagh
all lost. Next Sunday’s fixtures pits the three winners against the three losers which means that the table could be very tight by the end of play or a few four point gaps could have opened up.
DIVISION 3B: HIGH SCORING IN FIRST ROUND
Sunday: Mayo v Fingal, Castlebar 1.0; Donegal v Roscommon, Letterkenny, 2.30; Louth v Monaghan, Dowdallshill, 2.30.
Fingal, Louth and Mayo landed a total of 7-55 in their wins over Monaghan, Sligo and Roscommon last weekend, setting them up nicely for a real shot at promotion. Martin Ormonde scored 2-8 for Fingal; dual star, Keith Higgins scored 0-10 for Mayo while Gerard Smyth (1-4) was Louth’s top scorer.
DIVISION 4: HIGH-SCORING FERMANAGH ON EARLY ROLL
Sunday (2.30): Leitrim v Cavan, Ballinamore; Fermanagh v Longford, Irvinestown; South Down v Tyrone, Ballela.
Fermanagh hit Cavan for 8-23 last Sunday with Brendan McGarry (3-3) and Sean Corrigan (3-1) scoring 6-4 between them. They will be at home to Longford who lost heavily to South Down.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE 2011: RESULTS & FIXTURES
Round 1: Dublin 2-12 Armagh 1-11; Mayo 1-13 Down 3-7; Cork 0-17 Kerry 1-13; Monaghan 0-19 Galway 0-14.
Round 2: Next Saturday: Dublin v Cork; Next Sunday: Mayo v Kerry; Armagh v Monaghan; Down v Galway.
Round 3: Feb 26 (Sat): Down v Armagh; Dublin v Kerry; Feb 27 (Sun): Cork v Monaghan; Galway v Mayo.
Round 4: Mar 12 (Sat): Cork v Down; Mar 13 (Sun): Mayo v Armagh; Monaghan v Dublin; Kerry v Galway.
Round 5: Mar 19 (Sat): Down v Monaghan; Mar 20 (Sun): Galway v Cork; Armagh v Kerry; Dublin v Mayo.
Round 6: Apr 2 (Sat): Dublin v Down; Apr 3 (Sun): Monaghan v Kerry; Mayo v Cork; Armagh v Galway.
Round 7: Apr 10 (Sun); Monaghan v Mayo; Kerry v Down; Galway v Dublin; Cork v Armagh.
Apr 24: Final.
Round 1: Laois 1-14 Meath 1-11; Donegal 2-11 Sligo 1-14; Kildare 1-17 Antrim 0-11; Derry 1-11 Tyrone 0-13.
Round 2: Next Saturday: Tyrone v Donegal; Next Sunday: Kildare v Derry; Meath v Sligo; Laois v Antrim.
Round 3: Feb 26 (Sun): Antrim v Meath; Feb 27 (Sun): Sligo v Tyrone; Donegal v Kildare; Derry v Laois.
Round 4: Mar 12 (Sat): Tyrone v Antrim; Mar 13 (Sun): Meath v Donegal; Kildare v Laois; Sligo v Derry.
Round 5: Mar 19 (Sat): Derry v Donegal; Laois v Tyrone; Mar 20 (Sun): Kildare v Meath; Antrim v Sligo.
Round 6: Apr 3 (Sun): Donegal v Antrim; Tyrone v Kildare; Derry v Meath; Sligo v Laois.
Round 7: Apr 10 (Sun): Antrim v Derry; Laois v Donegal; Kildare v Sligo; Meath v Tyrone.
Apr 24: Final.
Round 1: Offaly 1-12 Cavan 0-8; Wexford 4-11 Waterford 2-6; Tipperary 0-10 Limerick 0-6. Louth 2-13 Westmeath 0-11.
Round 2: Next Sunday: Waterford v Limerick; Westmeath v Cavan; Offaly v Wexford; Louth v Tipperary.
Round 3: Feb 27 (Sun): Wexford v Louth; Cavan v Waterford; Tipperary v Westmeath; Limerick v Offaly.
Round 4: Mar 12 (Sat): Waterford v Tipperary; Mar 13 (Sun): Louth v Offaly; Limerick v Cavan; Westmeath v Wexford.
Round 5: Mar 20 (Sun): Louth v Limerick; Westmeath v Waterford; Offaly v Tipperary; Wexford v Cavan.
Round 6: Apr 2 (Sat): Cavan v Louth; Apr 3 (Sun): Limerick v Westmeath; Waterford v Offaly; Tipperary v Wexford.
Round 7: Apr 3 (Sun): Westmeath v Offaly; Waterford v Louth; Limerick v Wexford; Cavan v Tipperary.
Apr 23: Final
Round 1: London 0-16 Kilkenny 0-2; Leitrim 0-12 Clare 0-11; Longford 1-7 Roscommon 0-10; Carlow 2-10 Wicklow 1-13; Fermanagh (bye).
Round 2: Roscommon 1-14 London 0-5; Clare 5-17 Kilkenny 1-1; Wicklow 1-15 Leitrim 1-10; Fermanagh 1-10 Carlow 0-6; Longford (bye).
Round 3: Next Saturday: Fermanagh v Longford; Next Sunday: Kilkenny v Leitrim; Roscommon v Carlow; Wicklow v London; Clare (bye).
Round 4: Feb 27 (Sun): Fermanagh v Wicklow; London v Leitrim; Longford v Kilkenny; Carlow v Clare; Roscommon (bye).
Round 5: Mar 12 (Sat): Clare v London; Mar 13 (Sun): Wicklow v Longford; Roscommon v Fermanagh; Kilkenny v Carlow; Leitrim (bye).
Round 6: Mar 5 (Sat): London v Longford; Mar 20 (Sun): Clare v Roscommon; Leitrim v Fermanagh; Kilkenny v Wicklow; Carlow (bye).
Round 7: Mar 27 (Sun): Wicklow v Roscommon; Leitrim v Carlow; Clare v Longford; Kilkenny v Fermanagh; London (bye).
Round 8: Apr 3 (Sun): Longford v Leitrim; Roscommon v Kilkenny; Carlow v London; Fermanagh v Clare; Wicklow (bye).
Round 9: Apr 3 (Sun): Roscommon v Leitrim; Wicklow v Clare; Longford v Carlow; Fermanagh v London; Kilkenny (bye).
Apr 23: Final
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE: RESULTS & FIXTURES
Round 1: Kilkenny 1-17 Tipperary 1-10; Galway 1-24 Wexford 0-6; Cork 1-20 Offaly 1-15; Waterford 3-16 Dublin 2-19.
Round 2: Feb 19 (Sat): Dublin v Tipperary; Feb 20 (Sun): Offaly v Galway; Kilkenny v Cork; Wexford v Waterford.
Round 3: Mar 5 (Sat): Tipperary v Waterford; Mar 6 (Sun): Cork v Galway; Offaly v Dublin; Kilkenny v Wexford.
Round 4: Mar 13 (Sun): Galway v Kilkenny; Tipperary v Offaly; Waterford v Cork; Wexford v Dublin.
Round 5: Mar 27: Cork v Tipperary; Dublin v Galway; Offaly v Wexford; Kilkenny v Waterford.
Round 6: Apr 2 (Sat): Dublin v Kilkenny; Apr 3 (Sun): Galway v Tipperary; Offaly v Waterford; Wexford v Cork.
Round 7: Apr 17 (Sun): Cork v Dublin; Tipperary v Wexford; Waterford v Galway; Kilkenny v Offaly.
Final: May 1 (Sun).
Round 1: Laois 1-19 Westmeath 0-9; Down 2-11 Carlow 0-14; Antrim 1-15 Kerry 0-12; Limerick 2-9 Clare 0-6.
Round 2: Feb 19 (Sat): Limerick v Westmeath; Feb 20 (Sun): Laois v Carlow; Antrim v Clare; Kerry v Down.
Round 3: Mar 6 (Sun): Laois v Antrim; Westmeath v Clare; Down v Limerick; Carlow v Kerry.
Round 4: Mar 12 (Sat): Kerry v Westmeath; Mar 13 (Sun): Antrim v Carlow; Clare v Down; Limerick v Laois.
Round 5: Mar 26 (Sat): Clare v Kerry; Mar 27 (Sun): Westmeath v Antrim; Down v Laois; Carlow v Limerick.
Round 6: Apr 2 (Sat): Laois v Clare; Carlow v Westmeath; Apr 3 (Sun): Down v Antrim; Limerick v Kerry.
Round 7: Apr 17 (Sun): Westmeath v Down; Antrim v Limerick; Kerry v Laois; Clare v Carlow.
Final: May 1 (Sun)
Round 1: Wicklow 2-15 Kildare 0-18; Derry 3-16 Armagh 0-15; London 1-13 Meath 1-8.
Round 2: Feb 20 (Sun): Meath v Wicklow; Armagh v London; Kildare v Derry.
Round 3: Mar 6 (Sun): Armagh v Kildare; Derry v Meath; London v Wicklow.
Round 4: Mar 13 (Sun): Wicklow v Derry; Meath v Armagh; Kildare v London.
Round 5: Mar 27 (Sun): Derry v London; Armagh v Wicklow; Kildare v Meath.
Final: Apr 17.
Round 1: Fingal 4-18 Monaghan 0-13; Louth 3-20 Sligo 0-5; Mayo 0-17 Roscommon 1-5; Donegal (bye)
Round 2: Feb 20 (Sun): Donegal v Roscommon; Louth v Monaghan; Mayo v Fingal; Sligo (bye).
Round 3: Mar 6 (Sun): Monaghan v Donegal; Fingal v Louth; Roscommon v Sligo; Mayo (bye).
Round 4: Mar 13 (Sun): Donegal v Fingal; Sligo v Monaghan; Louth v Mayo; Roscommon (bye).
Round 5: Mar 27 (Sun): Monaghan v Roscommon; Fingal v Sligo; Mayo v Donegal; Louth (bye).
Round 6: Apr 3 (Sun): Donegal v Louth; Sligo v Mayo; Roscommon v Fingal; Monaghan (bye).
Round 7: Apr 10 (Sun): Sligo v Donegal; Roscommon v Louth; Monaghan v Mayo; Fingal (bye).
Apr 17: Final
Round 1: South Down 2-17 Longford 1-10; Fermanagh 8-23 Cavan 1-8; Tyrone 2-19 Leitrim 0-9.
Round 2: Feb 20 (Sun): South Down v Tyrone; Leitrim v Cavan; Fermanagh v Longford.
Round 3: Mar 6: Cavan v Tyrone; Leitrim v Longford; Fermanagh v South Down.
Round 4: Mar 13 (Sun): South Down v Leitrim; Longford v Cavan; Tyrone v Fermanagh.
Round 5: Mar 27 (Sun): Leitrim v Fermanagh; Cavan v South Down; Tyrone v Longford.
Apr 17: Final