Saturday (all 7pm)
Cork v Waterford
This year’s hurling league campaign gets underway tomorrow evening with the highly-anticipated visit of Waterford to Pairc Ui Rinn. The return of Jimmy Barry Murphy 16 years after his first appointment will give the Rebels a welcome lift and they will be quietly confident of beating the Deise in the opener.
Sean Og O hAilpin has been reinstated and there are debuts for Ross Cashman and Leaving Cert student Darren Sweetman. Waterford’s Michael Ryan has taken over from the vacated Davy Fitzgerald but the omission of Eoin Kelly over fitness concerns hasn’t gone down well, while John Mullane’s decision to take a break isn’t ideal.
Cork: D Og Cusack, B Murphy, S McDonnell, S O’Neill, J Gardiner, R Cashman, W Egan, S Og O hAilpin, D Sweetman, C Lehane, P Cronin, C Naughton, P Horgan, P O’Sullivan, B O’Connor.
Limerick v Clare
Old boy Davy Fitzgerald leads the Banner in the league for the first time and the hope is that he can restore good times. Despite a decent start to his reign, the former All-Ireland-wining goalkeeper is not getting carried away but his players seem impressed by the new regime.
“Everything is laid out for us,” John Conlan said of his manager. “Everything is A1 and everyone is flying. There is great competition for places. It is great to see the youth in the panel. It is up to us to drive on now.”
John Allen is back in inter-county hurling after six years away and new captain David Breen starts alongside Shane Dowling and Declan Hannon in the half-forwards at the Gaelic Grounds.
Limerick: N Quaid, P Browne, R McCarthy, T Condon, C Allis, W McNamara, G O’Mahony, J Ryan, D O’Grady, D Hannon, D Breen, S Dowling, S O’Brien, N Moran, M Ryan.
Sunday (all 2.30pm)
Kilkenny v Tipperary
In a replay of last year’s All-Ireland final, Nowlan Park hosts the biggest game of the weekend as two heavyweight rivals in Kilkenny and Tipperary do battle. Brian Cody’s team may have recaptured Liam MacCarthty, but will not have forgotten their league final defeat to Dublin and he said this week: “The league is a huge part of our year. We will be going out to do as well as we can, and that includes trying to win it. There is no point in playing if you are not interested in winning.”
His opposite number Declan Ryan has kept seven of the team which started back in September but Lar Corbett, Brendan Cummins, Eoin Kelly and Shane McGrath all miss out.
Tipperary: D Gleeson, D Maher, P Curran, M Cahill, S Maher, C O’Mahony, P Maher, B Maher, D Young, G Ryan, N McGrath, A Ryan, P Bourke, B O’Meara, J O’Brien.
Galway v Dublin
Current league champions Dublin travel to Pearse Stadium for a tough encounter with Galway on Sunday afternoon. Last year was a momentous one for Anthony Daly’s men and expectations will be high that they can enjoy a similarly successful season in 2012. Liam Rushe has recovered from a wrist injury and is in contention for a starting place but Conal Keany, Stephen Hiney and Tomas Brady are all unavailable.
Galway are currently going through a transitional period and Anthony Cunningham has 18 players who featured at U21 level last year in a youthful panel. One of the county’s stars, Joe Canning, injured his shoulder in the Fitzgibbon Cup and could be out for four weeks, which is a major blow.
Galway: J Skehill, D Connolly, D Collins, G O’Halloran, T Óg Regan, F Moore, N Donoghue, D Burke, C Donnelan, C Cooney, N Burke, I Tannian, D Hayes, B Daly, J Regan.
Offaly v Laois
Laois boss Teddy McCarthy has spoke of the importance of a good start and says he is remaining focused on Sunday’s midlands derby with Offaly in Tullamore. The Cork native recently arrived and the early signs have been positive. “The only game I’m interested in is against Offaly,” McCarthy said this week. “You can’t have dreams unless you take things one game at a time, and we will get that competitive nature into our play.”
Another newcomer, Offaly’s Ollie Baker, is aiming for promotion from Division 1B and will look for the perfect start at O’Moore Park as there are only five games in this division.
Laois: Eoin Reilly, Brian Stapleton, Darren Maher, Brian Smith, Joe Fitzpatrick, Matthew Whelan, Conor Dunne, James Walsh, Brian Dunne, Dayne Peacock, Michael McEvoy, Willie Hyland, John Brophy, Tommy Fitzgerald, Willie Dunphy.
Antrim v Wexford
Antrim manager Jerry Wallace has named six Ulster players who lost to Connacht in the Interprovincial Championship last weekend for his first competitive match in charge at Casement Park.
Sean McLaughlin makes his debut in the forwards and Shane McNaughton, Kevin Sheerin and PJ O’Connell will lead the attack. Wexford boss Liam Dunne is looking to shake things up since taking over in November and starts John Leacy and Gary Moore for their first senior league games.
Antrim: C O’Connell, A Graffin, C Donnelly, K McGourty, N McAuley, N McManus, S McCrory, K Stewart, B McFall, S McLaughlin, M Herron, C McFall, S McNaughton, K Sheeran, PJ O’Connell.
Wexford: E Martin, B Kenny, M O’Hanlon, B Kehoe, D Stamp, K Rossiter, C Kenny, E Quigley, J Leacy, R Kehoe, D O’Keefe, PJ Nolan, T O’Leary, G Sinnott, G Moore.
Carlow v Down
Westmeath v Kerry
Wicklow v Derry
Meath v Kildare
Roscommon v Mayo
London v Armagh