Talking points ahead of the weekend’s GAA action

Ahead of a bumper weekend with 20 Allianz League ties and the All-Ireland club finals down for decision, we take a look at the major talking points.

Will there be more shadow boxing in hurling?

It has been pondered who actually wants to win this Allianz Hurling League, with the championship quickly coming into focus. This weekend will shed light on the matter. Waterford face Clare in Walsh Park on Sunday, just eight weeks out from when the two sides meet at the same venue for the Munster Championship opener. Clearly, both sets of managements will be eager to keep their cards close to their chest.

Similarly, Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford travel to Pearse Stadium to face Galway, ahead of their Leinster Championship meeting in May.

Relegation scrap in Ulster

Monaghan and Cavan face off on Saturday, fighting for their Division 1 lives. Whoever loses the tie will be as good as relegated, with one round left to play.

While Cavan were tipped for the drop from the outset, Monaghan’s dip in form came as a surprise, particularly after their opening-day victory over Dublin. The Farney County have suffered four defeats on the bounce, and are in serious need of a result on Sunday.

Mickey Graham’s side recorded a resounding victory over Roscommon to give them hope in round four, but they know that a win in Clones is imperative in order to survive.

All to play for in Division 3

Win this weekend at home to Down, and Carlow are right in the mix for promotion. Lose, and Turlough O’Brien’s charges could be in deep relegation trouble. So finely is Division 3 poised that – other than Sligo’s relegation – it’s all to play for.

Louth v Westmeath looks like a crucial tie in the promotion race, while Down, Laois, Carlow and indeed Longford will all harbour ambitions of Division 2 football for 2020 if they can grind out a win this weekend.

The promotion and relegation picture will be much clearer on Saturday evening.

Fireworks expected in club football final

Two heavyweights of the club game face off on Sunday at Croke Park, as Corofin and Dr Crokes vie for the title of the best club team in the land.

In a showdown of the winners from 2017 and 2018, a nail-biter is expected. With the Kerry and Galway champions employing attacking styles, it’s sure to live up to its billing after a number of years in which the football final has flattered to deceive.

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Can St Thomas’ upset the odds?

Ballyhale Shamrocks enter Sunday’s hurling final as hot favourites to win a record seventh All-Ireland club title. The Kilkenny kingpins impressed during their march to the Leinster title and their deserved victory over Ballygunner. With Henry Shefflin looking for an utterly perfect start to life in management, St Thomas’ are out to spoil the party.

The Galway club, who lifted the Tommy Moore Cup six years ago, aren’t fancied by many after a hard-fought semi-final win over Cushendall, but they have enough All-Ireland winning experience to know that they have what it takes if they bring their a-game.

Nonetheless, anything other than a Ballyhale win would represent a significant shock.

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