Six players to watch in this year's Allianz Hurling League Division 1B 2 years ago

Six players to watch in this year's Allianz Hurling League Division 1B

Three into one doesn't go.

Realistically only Limerick, Clare and Wexford will be in the shake up for promotion to the top tier of the Allianz Hurling League come the end of this season's Division 1B campaign.

The beauty of this division is how every team will think they have a very good chance of beating the other, given the conditions faced at this time of year, and the various levels of preparedness.

Offaly may make a late surge, while Kerry and Laois are likely to face the scrap to avoid the dreaded drop to Division 2A, and life outside the All-Ireland championship.

But the season is young, optimism is rife and everyone is looking for a bright spark to warm the cockles on cold spring afternoons.

Here are six players we feel are destined for great things this year.

John Riordan (Limerick)

Munster GAA Football Senior Championship 2012 Quarter-Final 20/5/2012 Limerick John Riordan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan *** Local Caption ***

There was major news on Shannonside over the winter when the footballer was spotted training with TJ Ryan's squad. A very talented dual player, it's understood that he has committed to the hurlers this season.

His physical presence is something perhaps the hurlers have lacked, and after impressing in trials, Ryan is anxious to see what he can do in the league. Diarmuid Byrnes is also an emerging talent to look out for after progressing from Under-21 ranks.

Cathal Dunbar (Wexford)

Bord Gais Energy GAA All Ireland Under 21 Hurling Championship Final, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Tipperary 12/9/2015 Limerick vs Wexford Wexford's Cathal Dunbar Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

One of the most naturally talented hurlers to emerge from Wexford in years, his heroics for the county U21 side have seen him graduate to the full senior panel for 2016, along with Shaun Murphy of Oulart-The Ballagh.

Pace, power, and the vision to pick out some exquisite passes, Dunbar could be the key in Wexford's promotion bid, lasting all the way until late April.

If he can reproduce anything like this goal, the yellowbellies are set for a productive spring.

Conor Cleary (Clare)

Munster Senior Hurling League Round 4, Carriganore, Waterford 17/1/2016 Waterford vs Clare Clare's Conor Cleary in action against Seamus Keating of Waterford Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

The Miltown-Malbay man is another who has dual ambitions but Davy Fitzgerald is keen on using him for the hurlers this year. A man-mountain even when he was still a teenager, an injury free run could see him fill any number of positions for Clare this spring.

An U21 hurling captain, the west Clare man is proof that they don't use hurls just for herding cattle west of Lissycasey, as some snobs in the county may like to think.

With Patrick Donnellan injured, he should find himself placed in his favoured half-back role this spring.

Podge Guinan (Offaly)

EirGrid Leinster Under 21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final, O'Connor Park, Tullamore, Co. Offaly 24/6/2015 Offaly vs Wexford A dejected Padraig Guinan of Offaly after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

The Drumcullen man has been a county minor and U21 player and is expected to make the step up to senior squad duties this season.

With Brian Carroll retiring over the winter the Midlanders are in need of a new sharpshooter.

His impressive Fitzgibbon cup exploits for UCD could see him more involved under Eamon Kelly as the Tipperary native looks to resurrect hurling after a very disappointing few years in the Faithful county.

He grabbed 0-2 in this week's win over Maynooth and may need to wait for his league bow, but it will come.

Leigh Bergin (Laois)

Electric Ireland Leinster GAA Hurling Minor Championship Semi-Final, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois 23/6/2013 Laois vs Wexford Wexford's James Cash and Leigh Bergin of Laois Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

A former Laois minor midfielder, Seamus Plunkett has had the most bizarre pre-season of any inter-county manager, with players leaving his panel and then returning, most notably Zane Keenan.

Laois' progress is likely to be stalled this term due to the squad upheaval, but Bergin has already taken his chance in the Walsh Cup this season and despite his youth, he could be a key player.

Daniel Collins (Kerry) 

It's hardly a surprise that Kerry manager Ciaran Carey has seen fit to nominate Daniel Collins as his captain for this season. The Kilmoyley man may not be quite in the Limerick legend's class yet, but he is getting there.

A forward that has all the hallmarks of a great in the making, his age belies his talent to dominate games - and his free-taking ability - he scored 0-10 in the Kerry county final.

He can play anywhere centrally from number 6 upwards and his form will be crucial if the Kingdom are to beat the drop.

Fixtures:
Saturday : Limerick v Wexford, Gaelic Grounds, 7.00
Sunday: Clare v Offaly, Cusack Park, 2.00, Laois v Kerry, Portlaoise, 2.00