Evan Treacy/INPHO

Lift-off for Limerick and Tipp's landmark win: Allianz Hurling League talking points

It was another busy weekend of action.

1. Lift-off for Limerick

Limerick lost their first three games in the Allianz Hurling Leagues in 2022, drew their fourth, and it took a last day rout of Offaly to secure a win. After they were defeated in their 2023 opener by Cork last Saturday night, John Kiely would have demanded a response. On Saturday, in front of an expectant home support, he got it.

It was striking that Limerick hit 0-16 in the first half against Clare, the exact tally they had posted against Cork in the same period. The key was their level of improvement in the third quarter, Kiely referencing afterwards that they had demanded high standards be maintained. By the 56th minute Limerick had reached 0-26, and even if their pace tailed off in the finale, they had built up an advantage sufficient to maintain control.

2. Waterford bench impact

Davy Fitzgerald’s Waterford team had to withstand setbacks on Saturday night in Portlaoise. They lost Michael Kiely to a red card in the sixth minute and Laois, inspired by Ryan Mullaney’s 2-2 tally, had edged ahead by two points during the third quarter.

By then Laois had also been reduced to 14 men, and more significantly, the Waterford subs were introduced to telling effect. Austin Gleeson came on and struck six points, three from play. Patrick Curran raised a white flag and set up Dessie Hutchinson for a goal. Exciting youngsters Reuben Halloran and Patrick Fitzgerald bagged 0-2 apiece. They all combined to aid Waterford’s journey to an ultimately comfortable 12-point win.

3. Cork’s eye for a goal

When Cork fashioned a second-half revival to defeat Limerick last weekend, it was a success underpinned by goals from Robbie O’Flynn and Declan Dalton. They followed that up with a win against Galway and again, their goalscoring touch proved important. Dalton set up Conor Lehane for a first-half goal that was a real boost for Pat Ryan’s side.

After the break when Galway were reduced to 14, Cork capitalised. They were clinical, Sean Twomey and Lehane rifling home goals early in the second half that sent them clear, before Twomey grabbed another late on. They leaked a couple of late goals to Galway but Cork were in command by that stage.

4. Tipperary end Nowlan Park hoodoo

It had been 15 years since Tipperary came out on top on Noreside, but Liam Cahill’s men did enough to down Kilkenny at UPMC Nowlan Park in front of a 10,458-strong crowd. Jason Forde’s 1-15 went some way in securing the landmark victory, with Jake Morris next in line on the scoring charts with 1-2.

It may be early February, but this will come as a huge confidence boost for Tipp, who are showing positive signs early on. That they weathered a second-half Kilkenny storm and trademark Cats comeback will only add to it, as they sit at the summit of Division 1B. 

5. Wexford and Dublin achieve first wins

These outcomes were roundly expected, with Division 1 newcomers Westmeath the opposition for Wexford and Dublin hosting Antrim at Parnell Park, and both sides passed their respective assignments. Dublin’s win was a little less straightforward, Micheál Donoghue’s men having to hold off a late Saffron surge led by double goalscorer Keelan Molloy, but their 0-28 haul — including 10 points from Donal Burke — saw them home unscathed.

While the Dubs already had a point on the board after last week’s draw with Waterford, Wexford really needed to get off the mark. Darragh Egan’s side led by just one at the break, but comfortably bounced back from their opening defeat to Galway with third-quarter goals from Conor McDonald and Ross Banville key.

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