AS we head into another weekend of league games, what can we expect?
After a couple of weeks off, and more training done, and the approaching championship only a number of weeks away, I expect to see better hurling from all teams.
It will be interesting to see what their attitude will be, and nowhere is that going to be more important than in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Limerick have yet to win a game in this league, while Cork have not lost any, and I would say there are reasons for that.
Limerick, who started their training late, and Cork quite the opposite, and seem to have a lot of work done. But I expect to see a different Limerick team this weekend.
I wouldn't be surprised if John Kiely started most of his All-Ireland winning team. I know they are All-Ireland champions, but that was last year. I think John would like to start winning games now.
As we all know, winning is a habit, but so is losing.
Over the years, from what I know of Limerick hurling, they never fear playing Kilkenny or Tipperary, but when it comes to the Rebel county it's a different matter. There's no surprise there as some very good Limerick teams over the years have been beaten by Cork.
It is hard to put a finger on why Cork can nearly always get the upper hand on Limerick, although in recent years that has been getting more difficult for them, but definitely, Limerick have that inner fear when they play Cork.
Even poor Cork teams always seem to lift their game against Limerick and especially in the Gaelic Grounds, so I am expecting Cork to lay down a marker here.
But that is up to John Kiely and Kieran Kingston.
I always believe you should go out to win every game if you can, be it league or championship. Kilkenny a perfect example of that.
The question here is what team will Cork put out?
Especially in their defence, which has come in for a lot of criticism in the past. But I'm sure with Donal O'Grady now back as part of their management, surely they will come up with a plan to rectify that.
The big problem was the spine of the defence, will Mark Coleman start at centre-back or will they go with Robert Downey? Or could he be at full-back?
A fine big strong, physical player well capable of playing in either position. And does it matter anymore where your defenders play, as positions don't seem to matter, especially with Cork and their running game?
They have quality defenders like Diarmuid Byrnes and Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash, Richie English and of course, one of the best defenders in the country in Sean Finn.
These lads do not stand on ceremony, and they are always playing on the edge, so this should be a good test for guys like Alan Connolly, Robbie O'Flynn, Shane Barrett, Daire Connery, if they are playing, and surely Kieran Kingston will know a lot more about them after this game as they are all relatively newcomers to this Cork team.
Both of these teams need to win for different reasons, Limerick may be more so than Cork, to get back to winning ways, but I believe Cork have a lot more done, and that might just about shade it for them.
Now to the other games of the weekend, the most interesting first, Waterford playing Galway, in Galway.
Waterford had a good win against Limerick the last day. I'm sure they will go with a near full-strength team, taking on Galway, they showed a lot of fight against Limerick.
This is great preparation for their Munster Championship game against Clare in a few weeks. I'm sure Liam Cahill has targeted this game to see where he is at.
Waterford have learned a lot from last year, being in the Munster final and the All-Ireland final. I'm sure they want to see more progress this year having lost both those games.
Galway are always very difficult to beat in their home ground, having beaten Limerick already there although they lost to Tipperary the next day. They are still one of the favourites for the All-Ireland this year and seem to be the greatest threat to Limerick.
Shane O'Neill will have learned a lot from his first year, and the pressure is on this year. Let's hope we have good hurling games this weekend, with championship just around the corner, I can actually smell it.
Maybe it is time to let the crowds back in, especially all those who have been vaccinated - let people back to real living again.
You can't beat the heat of the crowd on your back when you are playing, players love it, and it is the real test.