Clare take on Waterford in Walsh Park at 2.30 pm next Sunday in Round 5 of the Allianz National Hurling League.
With one regulation round to player in the Allianz Hurling League, the permutations for quarter-final qualification in Division 1, and promotion and relegation across all Divisions have come into focus.
Here’s our guide to how the quarter-finals are shaping up in Division 1 -
Allianz HL D1A Round 5
Kilkenny v Wexford, Nowlan Park, 2.30pm
Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium, 2.30pm
Waterford v Clare, Walsh Park, 2.30pm
Wexford, Clare, Galway, Limerick, and Offaly are already guaranteed their quarter-final berths, but there’s still a lot to play for in the final round of the group phase this Sunday.
The first thing to note when analysing the League tables is that where two teams are level on points the team that won the head-to-head match is ranked ahead.
Where three or more teams are level on points, score difference is used to rank them.
With that in mind, then it’s clear that the most pivotal match in Division 1A this weekend will be the meeting of Tipperary and Cork.
If Tipperary win or draw the match they’ll definitely qualify for the League quarter-finals and Cork will definitely be in the Relegation Play-Off against Waterford, regardless of what happens in Sunday’s other two matches (Kilkenny v Wexford & Waterford v Clare).
But if Cork were to win, then the results in the other two matches can have a direct impact on the relegation play-off picture.
Let’s break down all the potential scenarios for the sake of clarity.
Scenario 1: Cork defeat Tipperary; Kilkenny defeat Wexford.
Outcome: Cork progress to the Quarter-Finals and Tipperary play Waterford in the Division 1A Relegation Play-Off.
Scenario 2: Cork defeat Tipperary; Wexford defeat Kilkenny; Clare defeat Waterford.
Outcome: This would leave Cork, Tipperary, and Kilkenny level on four points each, requiring scoring difference to separate them.
Here’s how the scoring difference of each team currently looks: Tipperary (+9), Kilkenny (+3), Cork (-10).
Clearly Cork have the most ground to make up in this regard, so in this scenario the more they beat Tipperary by and the more Wexford beat Kilkenny by the better chance they have of avoiding the Relegation Play-Off.
Scenario 3: Cork defeat Tipperary, Wexford defeat Kilkenny, Waterford defeat Clare.
Outcome: This would leave Cork, Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Waterford level on four points each, requiring scoring difference to separate them.
Here’s how the scoring difference of each team currently looks: Tipperary (+9), Kilkenny (+3), Cork (-10), Waterford (-19).
So, while Waterford still have a mathematical chance of making the quarter-finals, it’s a slim one. They’d need to beat Clare by a wide margin and hope Wexford do them a favour also by beating Kilkenny well.