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Stunning Kerry win, Cork setback, Tipp's approach & more hurling League talking points

There’s plenty to discuss following the opening weekend of the Allianz Hurling Leagues.

1. What a start for Kerry!

Ciaran Carey Kerry senior hurling boss and Limerick legend Ciaran Carey. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Under new management and tipped to struggle in Division 1B, Kerry produced a quite remarkable display to oust Laois at O’Moore Park this afternoon. 

This is such a good story that we’ve put it right up there at the top of our list of talking points, even ahead of Waterford’s victory over Kilkenny in Division 1A.

The Kingdom gained promotion last year and also won the Christy Ring Cup in what was a landmark campaign.

But now under the guidance of Ciarán Carey, they also showed that they could more than mix it with Seamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett’s Laois this afternoon.

Plunkett is renowned as a meticulous planner and this one won’t have gone down well in the O’Moore County.

2. Champions Waterford prevail at Walsh Park

Waterford provided Kilkenny with a guard of honour but then inflicted a four-point defeat on the Cats. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Waterford gained promotion from Division 1B last year before going on to clinch the League title outright.

And based on this afternoon’s evidence at Walsh Park, they don’t plan on letting go of the silverware any time soon.

Kilkenny boss Brian Cody brought a strong team to face Derek McGrath’s charges but Waterford held firm to score a first victory over the Cats in seven years.

The Déise might have hit 18 wides but they still did enough to chisel out a four-point win and leave Kilkenny with what already looks like a must win fixture on their hands at home to Tipperary next Sunday.

The Noresiders found themselves in a relegation playoff last year and Cody won’t want a repeat.

3. Big win for Galway out West

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

After deciding to dispense with their previous manager Anthony Cunningham last year, there was plenty of local focus on the Galway hurlers as they hosted Cork in Salthill.

The Tribesmen didn’t make the Walsh Cup final but they won’t have worried too much about that as new boss Micheál Donoghue believes there are bigger fish to fry in the League and championship.

Donoghue and his charges realise that the spotlight is on them and there’s pressure to deliver following the controversy with Cunningham.

Today’s win against visitors Galway will have gone some way towards restoring trust with fans and there’s no doubting the attacking threat that last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists pose.

Nine different scorers is a decent spread and Galway can pile early relegation worries on Dublin at Parnell Park next Sunday with another positive display.

4. Clare off to a winning start in Division 1B

Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

The pressure was on Clare to respond to Limerick’s win last night and the Banner County, while taking their time before seeing off visiting Offaly, did just that.

Revamped Cusack Park played host to the fixture and in what was a fractious affair, three red cards were dished out by referee Sean Cleere.

Clare might not have hit the heights in terms of fluidity but in heavy conditions, the result was really all that mattered.

From the off under boss Eamonn Kelly, Offaly have placed a heavy emphasis on defensive solidity, operating with a sweeper, and Clare needed to think this one out.

Probably the bet of the weekend was the 10-11 on offer for Clare at -9 on the handicap and eager punters who ploughed in will be toasting Davy Fitzgerald and his men this evening.

5. Tipperary’s new approach

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Upon taking charge last year, Tipperary boss Michael Ryan promised a more direct and physical approach from his charges in 2016.

The early evidence of that was clear to see on Saturday evening in Thurles as Tipp pitched ball after ball in on top of the Dublin full-back line.

Shooters were also encouraged to have a go from long range, one way perhaps of getting by any potential sweeper systems that Tipp might come across down the road.

Tipp shot 10 first half wides but still had too much attacking power for a Dublin side that could find themselves in a relegation fight, despite the early-season boost that came with Walsh Cup glory.

Tipp lost more puckouts than they won, however, and there’s still some work to be done before Ryan is satisfied that his men can win enough primary possession in the middle third of the field particularly.

6. Injury worry for Cork

Seamus Harnedy Seamus Harnedy was injured in Galway today. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

It wasn’t the best day out for new Cork boss Kieran Kingston. Key forward Seamus Harnedy netted his side’s only goal but was soon hobbling off with an injury.

Galway were far too slick for the visiting Rebels and on this evidence, Kingston had a big job on his hands as he looks to make Cork competitive again.

Harnedy will undergo scans to ascertain the exact nature of his injury but Kingston will hope the St Ita’s man isn’t ruled out for a considerable length of time.

Cork do have home advantage against Waterford at Páirc Uí Rinn next Saturday evening but defeat there would leave Kingston and his men looking towards the wrong end of the table.

It’s still far too early to judge Cork’s long-term prospects, of course, but Kingston would have been hopeful of taking something from Galway today.

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