NHL Div2A Preview: Westmeath to continue good form

Updated: March 9, 2012

Preview of this weekend’s Allianz National Hurling League Division 2A fixtures

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Kerry v Carlow:

The meeting of Kerry and Carlow in Killarney promises to be the pick of second round action in the Allianz Hurling League Div 2A. This game has a 12.45 throw in on Sunday, being part of a Fitzgerald Stadium double header with the Kingdom footballers clashing with Donegal at 2.30 so promises to be an entertaining afternoon in store for fans headed for Killarney.

Kerry lost last day out against Meath conceding 0-19 in the process though a late rally saw them put on 3-8 mainly thanks to Ballyduff teenager Padraig Boyle. John Meyler’s men hope to have star defender James Godley back after sustaining an ankle injury against Westmeath. Two times All-Ireland medal winner with Kilkenny, Willie O’Dwyer makes his second league appearance for the Kingdom whilst Manager Meyler told ‘The Kerryman’ that he was hopeful that key forward Gary O’Brien (who starred in last year’s Christy Ring Cup final) may play a part in this weekend’s encounter:

“Gary is back training since last week,” Meyler confirmed. “He wasn’t ready for last weekend as he’s working on his sharpness and his fitness. He could be in consideration for a place on the panel against Carlow.” Carlow opened their account last week with a very convincing 3-17 to 1-6 win over Down at Dr Cullen Park with Marty Kavanagh scoring 1-6 of that total. The Barrowsiders looked very impressive that day and if that form continues they will be the team to beat in Division 2A .For Kerry it is a “must win” tie as John Meyler stressed : “”This is crucial,” “In a league where there’s only five matches you can’t lose two. If we lose two we’re out of the shake up for promotion. That’s it. It’s a must win game.”

Verdict: Kerry by two points with the benefit of home support.

Derry v Westmeath:
An intriguing game in prospect at Celtic Park in Derry where entertain a Westmeath side who impressed in the defeat of Kerry. Derry had an experimental side on duty last time out but boss Ger Rogan is happy with how they are developing “There’s a great feeling around the panel we have a squad of 31 training and we were missing a lot of key players, Kevin Hinphey, Liam Craig, Paddy Henry and Paddy Kelly. But there’s been great buy-in from the clubs and we have more options this year,” said the Derry boss after the opening round draw against Wicklow.

Clonkill’s Brendan Murtagh who deservedly gained an Interprovincial Cup winners medal for Leinster last week is the key player for Westmeath.

Verdict: Westmeath to continue their winning ways with three or four points to spare at Celtic Park

Down v Wicklow:

The clash of Down and Wicklow in Newry gives both sides the chance to win their first game of the campaign though thanks to St Patrick’s clubman, Jonathan O’Neill they came close against Derry at Aughrim last time out. His 0-11 (inc a last gasp equaliser) saved the Wicklow men that day and O’Neill is sure to be the key man again this Sunday for the long trip to Newry. Down shot 17 wides albeit comprehensively beaten anyway by Carlow in their last outing but they will look once more be hoping that Daniel Toner hits top form on Sunday. Patrick Smyth received two yellow cards against Carlow and his absence will not help the Down men. Nonetheless a close encounter can be expected here.

Verdict: Wicklow to win narrowly with no more than two points to spare

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