Gaelic GamesCounty-by-county guide

NHL Division 1B: Limerick will look forward to competitive action as Dublin seek bigger impact

The GAA have tried to add a bit of jeopardy and excitement to the 2024 Allianz Hurling League

Ah yes, the Allianz Hurling League, another of the small-ball code’s preseason competitions. The GAA are introducing a swanky new format for 2025 because, well, the current structure is pseudo-competitive nonsense.

They have tried to add a bit of jeopardy and excitement to the 2024 iteration by using the final league positions to determine what division counties will operate from next season. But try not get too distracted or caught up by the incoming 2025 format, chances are yet another new system will be under consideration soon enough. The 2024 hurling season throws in this weekend, today we look at Division One, Group B.


Manager: Darren Gleeson (5th season)

Opening fixture: v Limerick, Sunday, Semple Stadium, 2pm


How did 2023 go: A 3-18 to 1-18 victory over Laois at Corrigan Park in round four of last year’s league was enough to see Antrim retain their Division 1B status. The Saffrons lost the other four games – but their only heavy defeat was the round-five dead rubber match against Tipperary, which the Premier County won by 18 points. Antrim’s defeats to Kilkenny (6pts), Dublin (3pts) and Waterford (8pts) were competitive affairs. They avoided relegation in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship (SHC) too thanks to a draw with Dublin in their first round-robin game and a last-round victory over Westmeath.

So far in 2024: They were on the wrong end of a 2-31 to 1-18 result in a Walsh Cup clash against Dublin at Parnell Park in mid-January. Antrim’s subsequent Walsh Cup encounter with Westmeath was called off because of heavy fog and the game was not refixed. Several players have stepped away from the panel for 2024, plus former captain Neil McManus has retired.


Manager: Micheál Donoghue (2nd season)

Opening fixture: v Tipperary, Saturday, Parnell Park, 2.30pm

How did 2023 go: It was not the most convincing league campaign by the Dubs – with their only wins coming over Antrim and Laois. Dublin drew with Waterford but lost to Tipperary and Kilkenny. They finished third in the Leinster SHC – a win over Wexford and a draw with Galway the pivotal results in attaining the third-place finish. They subsequently beat Carlow in an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final, but that was followed by a 5-26 to 2-17 defeat to Clare.

So far in 2024: Dublin had big wins over Antrim and Westmeath in the group stages of the Walsh Cup, advancing to the semi-finals of the competition where they lost to Donoghue’s native Galway, 1-24 to 0-17. After a somewhat static season in 2023, Donoghue will be hoping his Dublin side make a bigger impact on the hurling landscape over the months ahead.


Manager: Henry Shefflin (3rd season)

Opening fixture: v Westmeath, Saturday, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

How did 2023 go: Galway finished third in their division and just missed out on a place in the league semi-finals last term. Shefflin’s men chalked up wins over Wexford, Clare and Westmeath during the group stages but losses to Cork and Limerick left the Tribesmen third, just behind the Rebels and the John Kiely’s Treaty County. Galway finished top of the group in the Leinster SHC, going through the provincial round-robin stages unbeaten – three wins and two draws. However, a late Cillian Buckley goal for Kilkenny denied Galway victory in the Leinster final. Their summer ended with a 2-24 to 1-18 All-Ireland semi-final loss to Limerick at Croke Park.

So far in 2024: Galway won their opening three Walsh Cup outings – beating Laois, Offaly and Dublin on their way to the final. However, they failed to get their hands on some early season silverware as Wexford proved too strong in the Walsh Cup decider at Netwatch Cullen Park last weekend, 1-21 to 0-16.


Manager: John Kiely (8th season)

Opening fixture: v Antrim, Sunday, Semple Stadium, 2pm

How did 2023 go: Decent, like. Limerick finished the year as All-Ireland champions, Munster champions and National League champions. Kiely’s side actually lost their opening league game to Cork last February, but won all subsequent contests including the Division One decider against Kilkenny. A defeat to Clare, followed by a draw against Tipperary, proved to be a Munster championship speed bump for Limerick, but they took care of Cork in their final group game before getting revenge over Clare in the provincial decider. They made history in July by beating Kilkenny 0-30 to 2-15 to claim a fourth successive Liam MacCarthy title.

So far in 2024: Limerick’s year started out with a 2-21 to 1-19 victory over Clare in the Munster Senior Hurling League (SHL), but that is as much competitive hurling as they managed. Their Munster SHL fixture against Cork was postponed on three occasions – due to fog, a frozen pitch and a waterlogged pitch respectively. Ultimately, Munster GAA announced the competition would not be finished.


Manager: Liam Cahill (2nd season)

Opening fixture: v Dublin, Saturday, Parnell Park, 2.30pm

How did 2023 go: Tipperary were the only team in the top flight to finish the group stages in Division One with five consecutive victories. However, their league aspirations came to an end following a six-point defeat to Limerick at the semi-final stages. After a positive start to their Munster SHC campaign, Tipp were in a strong position for a provincial final appearance in advance of their last group game, only to suffer a surprise defeat to Waterford. They still finished third in Munster, but their All-Ireland aspirations ended in defeat to Galway at the quarter-final stages.

So far in 2024: They lost their Munster SHL opener to Waterford in Dungarvan but won their second match against Kerry in Nenagh. The Munster SHL was not completed due to multiple fixture postponements, but even if it had, Tipp would not have advanced to the final.


Manager: Joe Fortune (3rd season)

Opening fixture: v Galway, Saturday, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

How did 2023 go: Westmeath’s most important game in last year’s National League was a 3-24 to 1-6 Division One relegation playoff win over Laois in Semple Stadium. Fortune’s team had lost their previous five games in the group stages, but that victory over Laois preserved their status in Division One for 2024. Westmeath’s Leinster SHC campaign was a rollercoaster – the high point coming with quite a sensational victory over Wexford, after trailing by 17 points. But they lost at home to Antrim the following week and were relegated to the Joe McDonagh Cup.

So far in 2024: Dublin were too strong for Westmeath during their Walsh Cup opener in early January at Parnell Park, with the Dubs running out 2-31 to 1-12 winners. Westmeath’s subsequent Walsh Cup encounter with Antrim was called off because of heavy fog and the game was not refixed.

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Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times