Preview: It's showdown semi-final day in the Allianz Hurling Leagues 8 years ago

Preview: It's showdown semi-final day in the Allianz Hurling Leagues

The League trophy is glinting in the eyes of four sides

The hurling is the big focus of this weekend's Allianz League action in Nowlan Park, as Tipperary face their Munster rivals Waterford while Cork and Dublin clash for the second time this Spring.


Allianz Hurling League Division I Semi-Finals

Cork v Dublin, Nowlan Park, 2pm

Ger Cunningham's last meeting with Cork will be one he will want to forget quickly but probably can't. Cork gave their former selector a reminder of the talent he was missing out on with a massive 0-34 to 1-20 loss when the sides met at the start of March.

It may have been an evening where Cork could do no wrong, or as Ryan O'Dwyer summed up afterwards, 'every bounce of the ball went in Cork's favour and everything bounced out of our hands'.


That might have been an easy way for O'Dwyer to excuse the sorry performance, but if nothing more it was a serious reality check for Cunningham and his team. The result was a realisation that life in Division One had to be scrapped for every day, and not just when it suited players, such as marquee games against the All-Ireland finalists from the season before.

Cork narrowly overcame Wexford in the last eight by four points, while Dublin enjoyed a comfortable win over a limited Limerick side, who looked well short of fitness in their Croke Park quarter-final.

Mark Ellis and Alan Cadogan returning to the Rebels side at number six and thirteen will be a welcome boost for Jimmy-Barry Murphy, whose side improved slowly through the league after an opening day loss to Kilkenny.

Eamonn Dillon and Mark Ellis 7/3/2015


It may have taken a while but in the win over Limerick Cunningham may have stumbled upon his best starting 15. Liam Rushe no longer tied to the edge of the square and Conal Keaney's movement are sure to prove difficult moving targets for Cork to train their sights on this Sunday.

If one was to take the game on form alone it would point to a Dublin win as their greater scoring threat, as well as the certainty that they will not be as poor as their last meeting, would suggest Cunningham could guide his side to a first league final since 2011.

However Cork's need is greater. Despite being Munster champions, Jimmy Barry Murphy must realise how fragile his team's confidence is, and a team that misfired badly in the All-Ireland semi final last year need the experience of a final to steel them for the Championship.

If Cork get any sort of grip on the defensive problems that have beset them for two years now they should win but Cunningham's inside knowledge of  each and every man in red cannot be discounted.


Tipperary v Waterford, Nowlan Park, 4pm 

The revolution will be televised and we'll get another chance to see the wheels of change in motion down in the south-east this Sunday, as Waterford face another tough test against Tipperary in the second league semi final.

Derek McGrath ripped it all out and started again at the start of his second year in charge of Waterford and so far he has barely hit a speed bump.

However there could be a major roadblock in his way this weekend as Tipperary – who will now have Seamus Callanan restored to the side after his frankly shambolic red card against Offaly was rightfully overturned – look for a place in the league finale.

That news should lift the mood somewhat in a county still struggling to come to terms with the news of Noel McGrath's absence for the foreseeable future due to his treatment for testicular cancer.


Padraic Maher with John Power and Matthew Ruth 15/3/2015

These two sides are the form outfits from this year's league. Waterford still unbeaten while Tipperary managed four wins from five after an shock opening day loss to Dublin.

Eamon O'Shea's side are desperate for silverware and with their arch-nemesis Kilkenny vanquished, they can finally smell a league title that has eluded them the last two seasons.

Waterford's route to the last four has seen them secure promotion while they also put on quite a show when negating Galway's attack in their q-final clash two weeks ago. Keeping a side like the Tribesmen to just 0-12 alludes to a steely edge that perhaps the Deise have lacked since the Davy Fitzgerald era.

To keep any hurling side to just 0-12 takes massive discipline and McGrath's defensive structure and possession based game plan has been impressive. It may not always be pretty to watch but with players like Austin Gleeson and Pauric Mahony, the Deise have the added value of a quality attack as well as a strong rearguard

League semi finals are no place for callow youth and despite Waterford's impressive wins at underage over the last five years Tipperary,even without  a number of frontline players should prove too strong for their Munster rivals.

Callanan's return to action should see them over the line as Eamon O'Shea plots a big summer for the Premier. Derek McGrath's side will get a chance to warm up for the Munster championship in the ideal way possible, so even if they do lose Sunday,little truly will have been sacrificed in vain.