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Serious Hurling Stuff Starts This Weekend

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Despite talk of their demise in recent seasons don't forget Kilkenny still ended up as League champions last season.

In the wake of talk about GAA ticket price increases, thousands will still throng venues up and down the country in support of their native county.

It's one of the most interesting seasons in years.

Limerick heading in as All Ireland Champions. A return to the Premier for Liam Sheedy in Tipp. Clare, Cork and Wexford keen to springboard into the year with the momentum that could push them through to autumn honours.

There was a time when hurling managers regarded as the League as  'Only the League'. But the way both intercounty football and and hurling has gone lately, it's clear that it's very difficult to just switch on your team's match winning capacity in the summer.

Managers who haven't managed to uncover 3/4 players in the spring find themselves struggling later in the year.

Not only that if you have some established stars, having young lads who are hungry to launch their own careers can do wonders for competition in the squad.

Last year you would have needed a calculator and periodic table to work out the final pairing.

For example Clare finished 4th in Division 1A last year with the same record as the finalists Kilkenny and Tipp but an inferior scoring difference.

Now in their third year as a management team Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor are many believe close to a major breakthrough.

Limerick have a great age profile in their squad but may be more keen on back to back Championship success later in the year.

Abbey CBS Tipp town principal and Luimneach manager John Kiely seems to have managed the craziness of an All Ireland win really well.

Brian Cody in his 21st year, amazed many hurlers on the ditch with how he managed to guide the Cats to a national trophy 12 months ago and the big question will be has he uncovered a few more in the Noreside hurling factory, especially as Ballyhale will be focussing on their club run.

As the league gets a rejig there is no relegation this year something that may encourage the likes of  Wexford boss Davy Fitz to experiment wildly with team formations.

In recent weeks all the talk in Cork seems to have been about cost over runs and visions for the future, John Meyler may also decide that bridging the 14 year gap to Corks last All Ireland win may be of more interest to him.

Liam Sheedy finds himself back in the Bainisteoir's bib 9 years after guiding the Premier to the Liam McCarthy.

Some have questioned if the game has moved on to such an extent that the Portroe man might find it hard going in his second coming.

In the next weeks these questions will be answered.

Can't wait.


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