Kilkenny's winless Wexford streak and Galway's goal deficit: The weekend's League talking points

Our writers look ahead to the major talking points ahead of the weekend's Allianz League action.

Kilkenny bid to break winless streak against Wexford

Kilkenny's winless Wexford streak and Galway's goal deficit: The weekend's League talking points

The boys with the thorn in their side. The Cats may have the claws but Wexford have been jabbing into their ribs of their neighbours for the vast majority of Davy Fitzgerald's time in charge.

It's against Kilkenny that Wexford judge themselves first and foremost. An understandable predilection considering they've lived in their shadow for so long but they do it too much sometimes, although that seemed to change last year as they ran Tipperary so close in that All-Ireland semi-final.

However, Kilkenny were All-Ireland runners-up in 2019 and already look a remobilised outfit so Wexford analysing themselves on what they do against them mightn't be such a bad thing.

You have to go back to the 2018 Leinster championship for the last time Kilkenny beat Wexford. Since then, it's been four Wexford wins and one draw. In the counties' 12 meetings in the Fitzgerald era, Wexford have won eight times.

The Model County have more than addressed their difficulty with the stripey men but Kilkenny's difficulties with Wexford under Fitzgerald continue and, at times, have projected into criticisms of their style of play against the Clare native.

- John Fogarty

Carlow, Westmeath, and Laois need to keep elite honest

Kilkenny's winless Wexford streak and Galway's goal deficit: The weekend's League talking points

The opening two rounds of hurling league action have not been particularly kind to those counties attempting to close the gap on the ruling elite.

After two games each, Carlow have a score difference of minus 37, Westmeath minus 26. Laois, who’ve also suffered back-to-back losses, stand at minus 18.

Were it not for the change in league format this season, all three counties would be operating in Division 1B at present and there’s no question but all three would be far more competitive in the old second tier.

As it is, Westmeath find themselves entertaining Cork this weekend, while Laois are on the road to Ennis. Upsets in either are most unlikely. Carlow, at home to Dublin, stand the best chance of opening their account.

All three are going to struggle to put points on the table in the weeks ahead, bar when Carlow and Laois square off in Group B, but at the very minimum, they must remain competitive when facing the top-tier counties, as Westmeath were against Waterford and when Laois ran Dublin close.

Keeping the Kilkennys, Tipperarys, and Limericks honest might just be enough to convince decision-makers in Croke Park to keep faith with the new 12-team structure, as opposed to a slimmer 10-team competition which would mean less room at the top table for developing counties.

- Eoghan Cormican

Galway's need for goals to get Tipperary test

Kilkenny's winless Wexford streak and Galway's goal deficit: The weekend's League talking points

Damien Hayes, second only to his Portumna clubmate Joe Canning as Galway’s top goal-scorer in history, highlighted this week the need for the Tribesmen to find someone with an eye for the net.

That’s one of the things new manager Shane O’Neill is trying to sort out during this league campaign but in two games to date they have only rattled the net once when Conor Whelan scored in the win over Westmeath.

They failed to hit the net against Limerick, continuing a trend that’s been apparent in recent years. Last summer they scored four goals, three of them away to Kilkenny in Nowlan Park of all places, in four championship matches, shooting blanks against Wexford and Carlow and ended up failing to get out of Leinster.

Even the year they won the All-Ireland in 2017, they only managed two against Dublin in the opening round and managed to win the Liam MacCarthy despite not hitting the net against Offaly, Wexford, Tipperary, and Waterford.

On Sunday, they try to start rectifying that against a Tipperary team who kept four clean sheets out of eight games on their way to winning the All-Ireland last year.

- John Fallon

Open season on U20s as player welfare takes back seat

Kilkenny's winless Wexford streak and Galway's goal deficit: The weekend's League talking points

When Central Council, in their so-called wisdom, agreed to push back the U20 All-Ireland football championship to spring from summer there were always going to be anomalies.

Firstly, it required a derogation of rule, as the rulebook states that U20 teams can only return to collective training on April 1. Secondly, the change in schedule also made redundant the eligibility rule that prevented those who have played senior inter-county championship from lining out for their county's U20s that same year.

Right now, there is nothing stopping an U20 player from lining out for both his U20 and senior team.

Tomorrow, Laois and Cavan are scheduled to play provincial U20 games a day prior to the rescheduled Division 2 fixture. This sort of phenomena will raise its head again the more the U20 and Allianz League competitions advance in the coming weeks.

A Congress motion later this month seeks to prevent any player featuring in a League game from lining out for their county's U20s. If passed, that will come into operation in 2021 but until then it's open season. Player welfare, eh?

- John Fogarty

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