Cork will be aiming to get off to a strong start in 2019, and build on a 2018 campaign which saw them finish as All-Ireland Champions.
Despite topping the league Roll of Honour, the Rebels haven’t picked up Division 1 League silverware since 2013, and have lost each of their last three final appearances since then.
This group will prove interesting, with a strong Galway outfit; a Tipperary side showing resurgence, and a Waterford team unlucky not to make the league semi-finals last year.
Wexford are a side who have had some lean times recently, but are ready to once again make their mark again.
The reigning All-Ireland champions have had strong league campaigns also in recent years, but it’s been six years since they have lifted silverware following the Spring campaign.
The Rebels have 16 league titles – two more than their staunch rivals Kilkenny and they will be keen to bridge this gap.
An away tie to Tipperary is their opening game of the campaign, and one which will be relished by both counties.
Paudie Murray’s side have what it takes to get back into the decider, and with his sister Aoife committing for another year between the posts, there’s no reason why a League-Championship double can’t be obtained in 2019.
Key Players: Orla Cotter, Chloe Sigerson, Aoife Murray
League Prediction: Will qualify from the group and potential finalists
A strong start by Galway to 2018 came in the form of an excellent league, where their only loss came against Cork in the group stages; before a defeat to eventual winners Kilkenny at the semi-final stage.
Ann Downey’s charges again caused Galway a headache in the Championship, as the Cats prevailed in both the group and knock-out stages.
There’s plenty to suggest that this Galway side can do well in 2019, starting with the league – a competition they haven’t won since 2015.
Key Players: Sarah Dervan, Niamh McGrath
League Prediction: Will push hard for a semi-final place.
It wasn’t a 2018 to remember for Tipperary in the league, as the Premier County only managed one win in the group stages.
Summer provided better memories as Bill Mullaney’s side reached a first All-Ireland semi-final since 2008, before coming unstuck against eventual winners Cork.
There’s plenty to get excited about in relation to this Tipperary squad, who certainly have youth on their side and will be aiming for just their third ever League success this Spring.
Key Players: Mary Ryan, Clodagh Quirke
League Prediction: Will push hard for a semi-final place
Waterford’s upward curve continued in 2018, and they were unlucky to lose out on a semi-final on score difference in last years League campaign.
The All-Ireland Senior Championship saw the Deise continue to build well, and reach a historic first ever quarter-final, before losing out to Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
2019 could be the year of further gains for Dónal O’Rourke’s charges, and expect to hear plenty about them as the year progresses.
Key Players: Niamh Rockett, Beth Carton, Patricia Jackman
League Prediction: A potential semi-final place is a realistic goal
2018 didn’t offer the best of years for Wexford culminating with no All-Star nominations, after the Slaneysiders didn’t make it beyond the group stages of the league, and only claimed one win in the Championship, bring their Summer to an early halt.
It’s different times from the heights of the start of the decade which saw them claim three-in-a-row of All-Ireland Senior Championships from 2010-12; and a trio of league successes from 2009-11.
Hope springs eternal, and Martin Carey’s side have some good young talent coming through that can aim to spring a surprise or two in 2019.
Key Players: Shauna Sinnott, Shelley Kehoe
League Prediction: Could be the surprise packets of the group
Follow us for all reports By Cóilín Duffy @sportstalkdotie
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