Both Tipperary and Waterford suffered opening round defeats last weekend, as The Premier County lost away to Clare, while Waterford folded tamely at home to Wexford.
Both sides fielded experimental outfits, with Derek McGrath strangely making no substitutions in Waterford’s defeat, while Tipperary introduced many of their top players during the second half.
John McGrath, Michael Breen, Brendan Maher and Dan McCormack made appearances from the bench last week and all now return to the starting lineup in Semple Stadium on Saturday evening, with Maher joining the impressive Cathal Barrett in midfield.
Tipperary were within one point of a strong Clare outfit heading into injury time six days ago, and look to be a few weeks ahead of Waterford, who are gearing up for a long season. Home victories are crucial in Division 1A to secure a quarter-final position, so expect Tipperary to start strong and cover a three-point handicap.
Racing Post pick: Tipperary -3
Wexford made great strides in 2017 under Davy Fitzgerald, and it’s clear already this year that they are not to be underestimated. Following a win over Kilkenny in the Walsh Cup final, The Yellowbellies opened their League campaign with a seven-point win away to Waterford.
Sharpshooter David Dunne finished with 2-2 from play, while Lee Chin was in top-form. Cork began their season with a win over Kilkenny last Saturday, and this will have given a young Cork side, and new management, a huge amount of confidence going forward in 2018.
Conor Lehane was the star of the show once again finishing with 11 points, while the full forward line of Alan Cadogan, Seamus Harnedy and Shane Kingston notched 1-5 between them – and could have been much more but for Eoin Murphy in the Kilkenny goal. Wexford targeted the League in 2017, winning five from five in 1B, and it looks like Davy Fitz’ is doing it once again, showing much of his top-stars last weekend.
Home advantage counts for a lot in the League, with four of the six home teams across 1A and 1B winning last weekend, and it should be enough to carry Wexford past Cork on Sunday afternoon.
Racing Post pick: Wexford
Both Mayo and Kerry opened their campaigns with tight victories as both sides experimented with their line-ups.
Last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists are often slow starters in the League, but Mayo began with a 0-13 to 0-12 success over Monaghan away in Clones, with Evan Regan and Neil Douglas leading the charge for an understrength Mayo team.
Kerry had to work a lot harder than expected to get maximum points from their home tie with Donegal, as Dr Crokes star Daithi Casey popped up with a late point to seal victory.
Youngsters Sean O’Shea and David Clifford kicked off their senior Kerry careers in bright fashion, with O’Shea stealing the headlines finishing with seven points.
It’s doubtful that Eamonn Fitzmaurice will have had his side fully jazzed up six days ago, so expect them to improve and avenge last year’s All Ireland semi-final replay defeat.
Racing Post pick: Kerry
* All odds correct at time of posting.