Josh Cogley gives his predictions on the hurling events of this weekend.
Division 1A
 
Dublin v. Waterford
 
A Dublin side that were tipped as favourites for relegation before the beginning of the campaign will be coming into this game brimming with confidence after their comprehensive defeat of a fancied Cork side in Pairc Uí Rinn in round 2. The Dubs were in fine scoring form last time out, but will be unlikely to have so many opportunities against Waterford’s cagey defensive set up. Waterford’s inability to find scores so far this year is proving problematic, nearly costing them a game against Kilkenny that they should have won handily. However, they should have no major difficulty throttling Dublin’s inexperienced attack, and finding enough scores themselves to clinch a close win on Saturday.
 
Kilkenny v. Cork
 
What on earth has happened to Kilkenny? Brian Cody’s charges have looked completely out of sorts so far, with a complete lack of the sharpness, touch and aggression that were the hallmarks of their great teams. They are far too dependent on TJ Reid for their scores at present also, with only 1 other player contributing more than 1 point per game in the league so far. Their defence looks like an unsolved Rubik’s cube, with several players completely out of their natural positions. Given their lack of drive so far, you would have to be optimistic about Cork’s chances of plundering 2 points from Nowlan Park. If other teams sit back and let Cork play, they can be devastating, with an abundance of natural talent in their young forward line. However, if Kilkenny make the game into a dogfight, and take it to Cork physically, they should be able to get their first 2 points of the season.
 
Tipperary v. Clare
 
This game will be the best of the bunch this weekend. Tipperary have the look of an unstoppable force about them in this league campaign. With the Mahers in imperious form so far, and John McGrath spearheading the most lethal collection of forwards in the country, the All Ireland champions look hell bent on consolidating September’s success with a first league title since 2008. Clare are fresh off inflicting the worst defeat of the Brian Cody era upon a hapless Kilkenny side. Corner forward Aron Shanagher will be on to watch following on from his clinical display last time out. Given the bitter rivalry between both counties, this game should have plenty of bite and excitement, but Tipperary will ultimately run out victors by a comfortable margin.
 
Division 1B
 
Limerick v. Offaly
 
The Gaelic Grounds will be the setting for the first of this weekend’s routine hammerings in Division 1B. Offaly are having a torrid campaign, getting mauled by Galway in round 1 and losing by 6 to Laois the week after, suffering 2 red cards in the process. They are currently rooted to the bottom of the table and that is likely where they will stay. Limerick will be looking to rack up another big score following a comprehensive defeat of Kerry last time out. With their focus on their round 5 clash with Galway, Limerick will cruise to a heavy victory on Saturday
 
Galway v. Laois
 
The unfortunate Laois have the privilege of being Galway’s rebound opponents after their upset defeat to Wexford. With Joe Canning back to fitness and ready to join a team that scored 6-23 against Offaly without him, this game will provide unpleasant memories for Laois defenders for years to come. Throw in home advantage for Galway for good measure and we have all the ingredients for an unmerciful thrashing.
 
Wexford v. Kerry
 
This game presents the most likely banana skin in Wexford’s return to Division 1A after their opening 2 wins. Kerry are an improving side, that managed to give Limerick a scare before succumbing in round 2. Full forward Padraig Boyle bagged himself a hat trick, and could prove a threat to the Wexford resurgence. Given the level of expectation and passion in Wexford now, any result other than an authoritative home victory would be a huge disappointment. This will be a chance for Wexford’s marquee players to put on a show for their adoring home crowd, and they should live up to the expectations.
 
Predictions:
 
Dublin v. Waterford
Kilkenny v.Cork: Draw
Tipperary v. Clare
Limerick v. Offaly
Galway v. Laois
Wexford v. Kerry