2024 Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Preview

The Allianz National Hurling League season has concluded. The warm weather training camps have concluded. It is time for the chief protagonists of the Leinster SHC to put their best foot forward to advance from a provincial championship where the form guide looks locked for two sides, two sides genuinely looking at third place and two sides staring at a relegation battle. Hawkeye Sidekick takes up the narrative.

What did we learn from the Allianz NHL campaign?

Open questions aplenty for all the provincial teams. Kilkenny advanced to the final but fell short for a fifth consecutive national final. Wexford under new management pleasantly impressed and secured 1A hurling. Galway faltered to deceive in 1B action. Dublin and Antrim struggled for form and consistency while Carlow’s 2A league campaign started with promise but flatlined late.

Kilkenny remain the standard bearer when it comes to Leinster SHC. The Bob O’Keefe Cup appears to have taken up permanent residency up the River Nore given the recent provincial dominance.

Derek Lyng’s second season as Kilkenny manager. The league saw inconsistent performances but management were prepared to give fringe players an opportunity. The forward line unit cohesion though still a work in progress despite Eoin Cody and Adrian Mullen’s performances.

The injuries to Mikey Carey and Mikey Butler at the end of the league were blows but given the championship schedule, both should be back when the real action kicks off later in the round robin. TJ Reid will look to synch up those forward line unit issues but other output is required from Ryan, Keoghan, Drennan from open play.

Kilkenny will easily advance to the provincial final but an All Ireland series looks tricky unless significant improvement is shown. Kilkenny look an interesting watch this term.

Galway on paper have a superb team but for whatever reason have been unable to unlock the potential into consistent performances and wins in recent seasons.

The traditional lulls in games seen to full effect last term in their defeats in championship. Yet more stop start cameos in the 1B league campaign so Henry Shefflin had to cast the net out for options. Johnny Glynn’s return to the panel a big indicator that middle third air supremacy is the key.

Eamon O’Shea has joined the backroom team. His training techniques will improve the side but the side that take the field must front up. The forward line unit cohesion is a question mark particularly when Conor Whelan’s influence is negated. Shefflin and management have time to solve this equation in the provincial fixtures as the All Ireland series will be a step up.

Dublin’s league form has been a genuine concern. Heavy losses to Tipperary and Limerick have exposed middle third defensive shape issues and attacking options albeit Cian O’Sullivan has impressed with 1-28 in the league campaign.

Donal Burke remains the fulcrum for Dublin’s attack. Burke’s ability in open play and placed balls will keep Dublin ticking over but will opposition be able to negate the run game from deep that Dublin crave? A big opening weekend fixture against Wexford will test out those theories.

The Dublin side surely has a kick in them for this campaign. O’Donoghue and Forde will surely have the side setup well to compete. Chris Crummey is a big return to the side. Dublin come into the championship as an unknown quantity which is a potent mix for the likes of Wexford.

Wexford enter a new managerial era with homegrown Keith Rossiter in charge. The new management and backroom staff have provided fresh impetus to a playing group who flirted with Joe McDonagh last term.

The experienced players were given time to recover and recuperate and several new players took their opportunity. Seamus Casey in the forward line caught the eye and will complement Chin, McDonald and O’Connor in the unit.

The question for Wexford is defensive squad depth and their ability in the middle third to negate opposition who will look to run the sliothar from deep. Dublin this weekend makes or breaks their ambitions of securing All Ireland series hurling. Kilkenny and Galway fixtures will focus the minds but Dublin is the immediate focus. Wexford have a point to prove after a wretched championship last term.

It has been a wretched league campaign for Antrim. A devastating late goal concession against Dublin at Corrigan Park was a low point. Antrim’s squad depth in the league exposed with heavy losses from Limerick, Tipperary and Galway.

Gleeson and management have issued the recall option for several players and this gives a sense of where management feel on the current squad. A daunting away trip to Nowlan Park looms large. The objective is to stay in the province so the final round robin fixture against Carlow is a key goal.

Antrim in Corrigan Park may pose issues for other sides but given the league form, it remains doubtful that the Saffron county have the squad depth to seriously dent the top four team ambitions. Conal Gunning will need more support in attack to ensure Antrim are competitive. A daunting assignment indeed.

Carlow return to the Leinster SHC top table. Their preparation was a league campaign in Allianz NHL 2A where the side started with gusto with notable wins over Kerry and Laois but their form flat lined with a loss to Kildare in the final regular league season fixture and then were well beaten by Laois at home in the 2A final.

The Carlow side’s fulcrum is the half-forward line with Marty Kavanagh and Chris Nolan standout players from open game.

The game plan will be physical and direct to this unit to secure a platform. The concern is in the full back and full forward lines as both units have struggled to prevent goals and score enough respectively.

The hope is that Carlow are competitive but let’s be realistic here. Carlow have not had the preparation required to compete with the elite teams in this championship. Carlow’s aim is to secure their championship status with a win over Antrim. There will be heavy losses so resiliency and determination will be required from the side.


2. Galway

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