Kilkenny heads for Parnell Park on Saturday at 5 pm to face Dublin, who will be hoping to avenge two defeats last year.
The cats beat them by five points in the Allianz League and by nine points in the Leinster final.
It was always likely to be a competitive race among the leading four and so it’s proving with only one point separating Waterford, Dublin (five each), Kilkenny, and Tipperary (four each).
Antrim and Laois are cut adrift, with either yet to take a point.
Saturday: Dublin v Kilkenny, Parnell Park, 5.0.
Sunday: Waterford v Tipperary, Walsh Park, 1.45; Laois v Antrim, MW Hire O’Moore Park, 1.45
Elsewhere in the group, Waterford v Tipperary is one of the highlights of the weekend and will draw a big crowd to Walsh Park.
Waterford beat Tipp by 2-29 to 3-21 in last year’s League.
Antrim has been quite unlucky thus far, losing their opening three games against Kilkenny, Dublin, and Waterford by three, four, and two-point margins.
Laois tested Tipperary all the way in the first round, losing by four points, but have since suffered 33 and 17-point defeats against Waterford and Kilkenny.
Their clash with Antrim will decide who finishes bottom of the table and faces a relegation play-off. Antrim beat Laois by four points in last year’s League.
Carlow is in action on Sunday where they head across the border into Newbridge to face Kildare from 2 pm in St. Conleth’s Park.
This will be the first League meeting between Carlow and Kildare for four years, with Carlow having won by 3-15 to 1-6 in 2018.
It couldn’t be much tighter in the race to reach the final in Division 2A, with only two points separating the six teams, heading into the final two rounds.
Westmeath, Kerry, and Down are all on four points, with Carlow, Kildare, and Meath on two points.
Sunday: Kerry v Meath, Tralee, 1.0; Westmeath v Down, TEG Cusack Park, 2.0; Kildare v Carlow, Newbridge, 2.0.
Kerry host Meath in Tralee, having beaten the Royals by three points in last year’s League.
Down’s unbeaten run ended at home against Kildare last weekend and they now face a tough ‘away’ test against Westmeath, who got back to winning ways against Meath.
Division 1 – Group B
Saturday: Wexford v Offaly, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 2.0; Cork v Galway, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 7.0.
Sunday: Clare v Limerick, Ennis, 1.45
Cork and Wexford will secure places in the semi-finals ahead of the final round if they beat Galway and Offaly respectively. Wins would take them to eight points and out of reach of their pursuers.
Wexford will be well-fancied to achieve their first target for the season (Div 1 semi-finals) when they face Offaly, who have lost their opening three games to Galway, Cork, and Clare. It has been a difficult return to Division 1 for Michael Fennelly’s men and it will get no easier against the in-form Wexford men. This will be the first League clash between the counties since 2017 when Wexford won by five points.
Cork have won their first three games (Clare, Offaly, Limerick) by an average of 12 points, leaving them in a very positive frame of mind ahead of the visit by Galway on Saturday. Wexford ended Galway’s winning run last weekend and now Henry Shefflin’s men are battling for survival in the race to clinch a semi-final place. Galway beat Cork by five points in last year’s League.
Clare and Limerick meet in the group League games for the first time since 2019 when they finished level. Clare needs to win to have any chance of remaining in contention for a semi-final place.
Sunday: London v Wicklow, McGovern Park, Ruislip, 2.0; Donegal v Derry, Letterkenny, 2.0; Mayo v Sligo, Ballina, 2.0.
Derry and Donegal (both on six points) have opened a big lead on the rest, four points are clear of Sligo and London, who are a point ahead of Wicklow and Mayo.
It means that the Donegal v Derry game on Sunday is, more likely than not, a warm-up for another meeting in the final early next month. Derry beat Donegal by a point in last year’s League.
Saturday: Warwickshire v Louth, Pairc na hEireann, 2.0.
Sunday: Armagh v Roscommon, Athletic Grounds, 2.0; Monaghan v Tyrone, Inniskeen, 2.0.
Wins for Tyrone and Roscommon last weekend saw them move to the top of the table (five points each), followed by Armagh and Monaghan on four each.
This will be the first League meeting between Armagh and Roscommon since 2019, when Roscommon won both the 3A group game (four points) and the final (three points).
Tyrone beat Monaghan by nine points in last year’s League while the last Warwickshire-Louth game was in 2018 when Warwickshire won both the 3A group game and final.
Saturday: Fermanagh v Lancashire, Brewster Park, 1.0
Sunday: Longford v Leitrim, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 2.0.
Leitrim and Fermanagh are both on four points after two games; Longford are on two points are two games. Lancashire (2pts) and Cavan (0pts) have both played three games.
Lancashire beat Fermanagh by seven points in their last League game two years ago, while Longford beat Leitrim by eight points in their last League meeting three years ago.