2018 Allianz Hurling League permutations
By John Harrington
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, and the state of play in the battles for promotion and relegation from Division 1B down to Division 3B.
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.
Allianz HL Division 1B Round 5
Offaly v Antrim, Birr, 2.30pm
Laois v Dublin, O'Moore Park, 2.30pm
Galway v Limerick, Pearse Stadium, 2.30pm
In Division 1B, the situation is more clear-cut. The meeting of Galway and Limerick on Sunday will decide which team tops the Division and wins promotion to Division 1A for the 2019 season.
Both teams are level on eight points each with four wins from four, but Limerick’s superior scoring difference means a draw would suffice for them to top the Division and gain promotion.
Both teams are already through to the quarter-finals, as are third placed Offaly, but the remaining quarter-final berth from Division 1B as well as the Promotion/Relegation Play-Off pairing is yet to be decided.
The key match in the Division on Sunday is the clash of Laois and Dublin at O’Moore Park.
Dublin need to win to qualify for the Quarter-Finals and avoid a Relegation Play-Off with Antrim, while a draw will suffice for Laois because they have a superior scoring differential.
Whoever loses the relegation play-off will be relegated to Division 2A for the 2019 season.
Allianz HL Division 2A Round 5
Westmeath v Kerry, TEG Cusack Park, 1pm
Meath v Carlow, Pairc Tailteann, 1pm
London v Kildare, Ruislip, 1pm
The top two teams in Division 2A will contest the Divisional Final with the winner of that match promoted to Division 1B for the 2019 season.
Going into the last round of matches this weekend, Westmeath (8 points) and Carlow (6 points) occupy those top two positions but Kerry (6 points) in third place are still in the hunt.
Carlow sit above Kerry in the table because they defeated the Kingdom in Round 2.
Remember, if two teams finish level on point the head to head rule applies. Whereas if three or more teams finish level on points then scoring differential is used to separate them.
The crucial match of Round 5 is the meeting of Westmeath and Kerry at TEG Cusack Park, while Carlow’s trip to Meath will also be decisive.
A win for Kerry would guarantee their berth in the Division 2A Final, while a draw would suffice for Westmeath.
There’s a possibility that Westmeath, Carlow, and Kerry will all end up on eight points if Kerry beat Westmeath and Carlow beat Meath in their final match.
In that scenario, Carlow and Kerry would advance to the Final because of their superior scoring differential.
Were Westmeath to beat Kerry and Meath to beat Carlow, then Kerry, Carlow, and Meath would all finish level on six points each.
In that scenario, Kerry would join Westmeath in the Divisional Final because of their superior scoring differential.
The meeting of London and Kildare in Ruislip is effectively a relegation decider. Both teams are pointless, but a superior scoring differential of just a single point means a draw would suffice for Kildare to avoid the drop.
Allianz HL Division 2B Round 5
Armagh v Donegal, Athletic Grounds, 2.30pm
Down v Mayo, Ballycran, 2.30pm
Wicklow v Derry, Aughrim, 2.30pm
In Division 2B, the top two teams will contest the Divisional Final with the winners promoted to Division 2A for the 2019 season, while the bottom two teams will contest a relegation play-off with the loser relegated to Division 3A.
Mayo have qualified for the Division 2B Final with a match to spare and Derry are resigned to being in the relegation play-off, but Down, Wicklow, Donegal, and Armagh all have plenty to play for on Sunday.
Down are currently second in the Division on six points, but both Wicklow and Donegal on four each still have a chance of forcing their way into the Divisional Final.
Down will copper-fasten their place in the Final if they beat Mayo, but if they lose that match than a number of potential scenarios become viable if one or both of Wicklow and Donegal win their Round 5 matches.
Scenario 1: Down lose to Mayo; Wicklow defeat Derry and Donegal defeat Armagh.
Outcome: Down, Wicklow, and Donegal would be level on six points each and whichever team has the best scoring differential would advance to the Divisional Final. Currently, Down (+19) have the edge on both Wicklow (+9), and Donegal (+1) in this regard.
Scenario 2: Down lose to Mayo, Wicklow defeat Derry, Donegal lose to Armagh.
Outcome: Down and Wicklow would be level on six points each. Down would advance to the Divisional Final on the ‘head to head’ rule having defeated Wicklow already in the campaign.
Scenario 3: Down lose to Mayo, Wicklow lost to Derry, Donegal defeat Armagh.
Outcome: Down and Donegal would be level on six points each. Donegal would advance to the Divisional Final on the ‘head to head’ rule having defeated Down already in the campaign.
The relegation picture in Division 2B is also far from clear-cut apart from the certainty that pointless Derry will be one of the teams in the relegation play-off.
Second from bottom Armagh look the most likely team to join them there, but were they to defeat Donegal on Sunday then it would be Donegal against Derry in the relegation play-off.
If Armagh beat Donegal and Derry beat Wicklow then Armagh, Donegal, and Wicklow will all be level on four points each and the team with the poorest scoring differential will be in the relegation play-off.
Currently, Armagh (-21) would be a more likely candidate than Wicklow (+9) or Donegal (+1) for this fate.
Allianz HL D3A Round 5
Roscommon v Warwickshire, Dr Hyde Park, 1pm
Monaghan v Louth, Castleblayney, 1pm
Longford v Tyrone, Pearse Park, 1pm
The top two teams in Division 3A after Sunday’s final round of matches will contest the Divisional Final, while Longford are already confirmed as the bottom team in the Division and will drop down to Division 3B for the 2019 campaign.
Warwickshire and Roscommon current occupy the top two spots on seven and five points respectively, but third-placed Louth on five points and fourth placed Tyrone on four points still have a shot at qualifying for the Final.
There are a myriad of possibilities depending on how the final round pans out, but what we can say for sure is that Warwickshire will definitely qualify for the final if they beat or draw with Roscommon (they’ll have more points than any other team), and Roscommon will definitely qualify for the final if they beat Warwickshire (thanks to their high scoring differential).
Here are a few other potential scenarios.
Scenario 1: Warwickshire defeat Roscommon; Louth defeat Monaghan.
Outcome: Warwickshire and Louth advance to the Divisional Final.
Scenario 2: Roscommon defeat Warwickshire, Louth defeat Monaghan.
Outcome: This would leave Roscommon, Warwickshire, and Louth level on seven points each. The two teams with the best scoring differential would advance to the final. Currently, Roscommon (+28), and Warwickshire (+12) are a better bet in this regard than Louth (-7)
Scenario 3: Warwickshire defeat Roscommon; Monaghan defeat or draw with Louth; Tyrone defeat Longford.
Outcome: Warwickshire and Tyrone advance to the Divisional Final
Allianz HL Division 3B Round 5
Leitrim v Cavan, Ballinamore, 2.30pm
Fermanagh v Sligo, Brewster Park, 2.30pm
The top two teams in Division 3B of the Allianz Hurling League will contest the Divisional Final with the winner promoted to Division 3A for the 2019 campaign.
Lancashire currently top the table with eight points and are guaranteed a place in the Divisional Final.
Second-placed Leitrim will join them in the Final if they can draw with or defeat Cavan, and they’ll be warm favourites to get the result they need.
But if Cavan pull off a shock, then they and Sligo will have an outside chance of making it to the Final themselves.
Scenario 1: Cavan defeat Leitrim; Sligo defeat Fermanagh
Outcome: Leitrim, Cavan, and Sligo would finish on four points each and the team with the better scoring differential would advance to the Final. Currently, Leitrim (+10), and Sligo (+8) are a in a much stronger position than Cavan (-29) in this regard.
Scenario 2: Cavan defeat Leitrim; Fermanagh defeat or draw with Sligo.
Outcome: Cavan and Leitrim would finish on four points. Cavan would advance to the Divisional Final on the ‘head to head’ rule.