After two seasons of disruption, the Allianz Hurling League returns to its normal timing and format, beginning this weekend with action across all divisions.
The finals will be played at Croke Park on the first weekend in April.
This year marks the 30th season that Allianz has sponsored the Leagues, making it one of the longest sponsorships in Irish sport.
Galway and Kilkenny head into the new season as joint Division 1 title holders, having topped Groups A and B respectively last year. Due to time constraints brought about by Covid-19, it wasn’t possible to play the final and since Galway and Kilkenny didn’t meet in the Championship, they were declared joint winners.
Galway, Limerick, Cork, Offaly, Wexford and Clare will play each other in Group A of Division One this season with Tipperary, Kilkenny, Laois, Antrim, Dublin and Waterford in Group B.
All teams will play in each of four weekends out of five through to March 6th, then there will be a break before the final round, followed by the Division One semi-finals and the Final on consecutive weekends.
All-Ireland champions, Limerick, who won the League in 2019 and 2020, will be hoping for a better start than last year when they lost two and drew one of their opening three Allianz League games before winning the final two, leaving them fourth in the table. They will be away to Wexford in the first round on Sunday. Wexford haven’t won the Division 1 title since 1973.
Cork’s wait isn’t quite as long but they haven’t won the title since 1998, by far their longest spell without success in the 96-year history of the competition.
Tipperary Father and Son Goalkeepers met the media yesterday to launch the season. Ken was in goals for the Premier County in the first year of Allianz’ sponsorship and Brian is hoping to regain his place after a concussion last year triggered another bout of Vertigo that he has been managing through medication across the last three seasons.
“Allianz has been a proud partner of the GAA for three decades now and over that time we have seen incredible growth in the status of the Allianz Leagues,” said CEO Sean McGrath.
“The entire nation has shown great resolve over the past 24 months, and I know that the return to a full schedule of Allianz Leagues games in front of full stadia is an exciting milestone for GAA fans across the country. We all look forward now to another season of exhilarating inter-county action and the twists and turns the competition will throw up this year.”
“It is a testament to Allianz’ commitment to Gaelic Games that we now enter the 30th year of the Allianz Leagues,” added GAA President Larry McCarthy.
“The partnership between the GAA and Allianz is as strong as ever and it is a credit to everyone involved to see how these competitions have grown in terms of popularity and excitement.”