Preview: Weekend’s Allianz Hurling League action:

Allianz HL Division 1 Group A round 1
Saturday 4th February
Wexford v Galway, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 5pm – TG4

Allianz League points are the only prize on offer in this match, the winner will also be crowned Walsh Cup champions.

If the game ends in a draw the League points will be shared but a penalty shoot-out will be required to decide who lifts the Walsh Cup.

Wexford will bring a lot of confidence into the match having beaten Kilkenny at Chadwicks Wexford Park under lights two weeks ago, when with old reliables like Conor McDonald and Lee Chin were to the fore.

Galway have shown some good early season form too, their nine-point win over Dublin the highlight of their Walsh Cup campaign thus far.

Wexford are likely to name a slightly more seasoned team and that combined with home advantage could give them the edge.

Cork v Limerick, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 7.30pm – RTÉ2 / RTÉ Player

Cork have named four debutants in their team for what should be a great clash with All-Ireland champions Limerick as Brian O’Sullivan, Conor O’Callaghan, Eoin Downey, and Cormac Beausang make their bows.

Downey starts at full-back and will be up against Limerick’s Seamus Flanagan, so that will be a good early test of his mettle.

Even with four debutants, it’s a strong looking Cork team that includes ten of the side that beat Tipperary in the Munster SHL Final, with Patrick Horgan leading the line.

Limerick have named seven of the XV that started last year’s All-Ireland Final while 2021 Hurler of the Year, Cian Lynch, is on the bench and bound to see action after missing most of last year’s championship with injury.

Having lost to Cork by a point in the Munster Senior Hurling League, Limerick will be keen to make amends.

Cork: Patrick Collins; Conor O’Callaghan, Eoin Downey, Sean O’Donoghue; Tommy O’Connell, Ciaran Joyce, Damien Cahalane; Brian O’Sullivan, Luke Meade, Brian Roche, Conor Lehane, Cormac Beausang; Declan Dalton, Patrick Horgan, Robbie O’Flynn. Subs: Gavin Connolly, Niall O’Leary, Eoin Roche, Cormac O’Brien, Cathal Cormack, Sam Quirke, Conor Cahalane, Sean Twomey, Brian Hayes, Shane Barrett, Shane Kingston

Limerick: David McCarthy; Sean Finn, Richie English, Aaron Costello; Dan Morrissey, Declan Hannon, Colin Coughlan; Darragh O’Donovan, Barry Murphy; Gearoid Hegarty, David Reidy, Tom Morrissey; Adam English, Seamus Flanagan, Oisin O’Reilly. Subs: Jamie Power, Ciaran Barry, Ronan Connolly, Micheal Houlihan, Cian Lynch, Graeme Mulcahy, Shane O’Brien, Aidan O’Connor, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh, Jimmy Quilty.

Sunday 5th February
Clare v Westmeath, Cusack Park, Ennis, 2pm

After a positive 2022, Clare manager Brian Lohan has made it clear he wants his team to hit the ground running again to maintain that momentum.

They’re currently within injured duo Shane Meehan and Darragh Lohan, but apart from that will have a full hand to deal from for the visit of Westmeath.

This looks like a tough trip for Westmeath but they were very competitive in 2022 and will be pleased with how they performed when beating Antrim in the Walsh Cup.

Allianz HL Division 1 Group B round 1
Saturday 4th February
Antrim v Kilkenny, Corrigan Park, 2pm – BBC iPlayer

Antrim hurling supporters will come out in force for this one. Kilkenny haven’t played a competitive match in the county since 2009 and you have to go back all the way to 1943 for the last time they visited Corrigan Park.

Antrim performed well in Division 1 last year and will be keen to build further on the progress they’ve made under Darren Gleeson to date.

The Saffrons looked off the pace in the Walsh Cup, losing to Westmeath, Dublin, and Galway, but will have their large Dunloy contingent back in the fold for the League campaign.

Kilkenny tried a few new faces in the Walsh Cup like Aidan Tallis, Niall Rowe, Pádraic Moylan, Shane Murphy, Tom Phelan, and Gearóid Dunne, and it will be interesting to see if new manager Derek Lyng continues to experiment through the League.

Tipperary v Laois, FBD Semple Stadium, 5pm

Tipperary have named four League debutants for Liam Cahill’s first League match in charge with Johnny Ryan, Gearóid O’Connor, Cian O’Dwyer, and Sean Ryan all making their bows.

Noel McGrath captains the team from midfield with fellow veteran Patrick Bonner Maher at full-forward.

Michael Breen continues at full-back where he played well during the Munster Senior League, so that experiment looks like it could be a lasting one now.

Castletown’s Martin Phelan makes his League debut for Laois, as does Camross’s Tomas Keyes who played for the midlanders in lats year’s championship.

Sunday 5th February
Waterford v Dublin, Fraher Field, 2.30pm – TG4 deferred coverage

Waterford have a lengthy injury list that will probably rule players like Jamie Barron, Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Tadhg De Burca, Conor Prunty, and Iarlaith and Carthach Daly out of this match.

That will give opportunities to players like Paddy Leavey, Rueben Halloran, and Padraig Fitzgerald who impressed in the Munster Senior League.

Unearthing a forward or two will be the priority for Dublin manager Micheal Donoghue in the League, and the likes of Joe Flanagan and Andrew Jamieson-Murphy are two potential candidates.

Allianz HL Division 2A round 1
Saturday 4th February
Carlow v Kildare, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2pm
Derry v Kerry, Celtic Park, 2pm

Sunday 5th February
Allianz HL Division 2A round 1
Down v Offaly, Ballycran, 1pm

Allianz HL Division 2B round 1
Saturday 4th February
Meath v Wicklow, Páirc Tailteann, 2pm
Donegal v Sligo, Letterkenny, 2pm
Tyrone v London, Eoghan Ruadh, Dungannon, 7pm

Allianz HL Division 3A round 1

Saturday 4th February
Louth v Armagh, Darver, 1pm
Monaghan v Fermanagh, Inniskeen, 2pm
Mayo v Roscommon, Hastings MacHale Park, 2pm

Allianz HL Division 3B round 1
Saturday 4th February
Longford v Cavan, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 2pm
Warwickshire v Leitrim, Páirc na hÉireann, 2.30pm