THE 2019 LEINSTER and Munster hurling championships are heading towards the final stages of the round-robin series this weekend with only one county out of the running in each province and everything else up for grabs.
Carlow and Waterford have played their respective quota of games, finishing pointless after their four encounters but there is plenty at stake elsewhere.
There are Saturday night showdowns at 7pm in Leinster with Dublin entertaining Galway in Parnell Park while Wexford host Kilkenny in the south-east.
The top two will advance to the Leinster final on 30 June with the third-placed team facing the Joe McDonagh Cup winners on 6-7 July.
Here’s the current state of play.
Galway are in the strongest position with a win or draw set to guarantee them a place in the Leinster final. If they lose they will get third place so long as there is a winner in the game between Kilkenny and Wexford.
Kilkenny will also advance to the Leinster final if they win while a draw could also be sufficient. The only scenario in which their championship will be over is if they lose and Dublin also win, which would leave Kilkenny fourth and out of the running.
Wexford will likely have to win if they wish to reach the Leinster final but a draw coupled with a Dublin win could see them through on scoring difference to the decider. Even if they lose, a Galway victory would ensure they still remain in the 2019 All-Ireland race.
Dublin will see their season draw to a close if they lose, a draw will only rescue them if Kilkenny win by a margin great enough to dent Wexford’s scoring difference. Mattie Kenny’s side will be targeting a victory that can propel them into the Leinster final.
There is a scenario where all four sides end up on five points if it is a draw in Wexford Park and a Dublin victory in Parnell Park. As it currently is Kilkenny (+18), Wexford (+15), Galway (+7) and Dublin (+7), that chain of results would see Galway lose out on scoring difference.
There are Sunday afternoon battles at 2pm to look forward to in Munster with Tipperary taking on Limerick in Semple Stadium and Clare hosting Cork in Cusack Park.
The top two will advance to the Munster final on 30 June with the third-placed team facing the runner-up from the Joe McDonagh Cup on 6-7 July.
Here’s the current state of play.
Tipperary are guaranteed to finish in the top three and the only scenario in which they might lose out on a Munster final place would be if they lost to Limerick and Cork won. That would leave three teams on six points and scoring difference brought into play. Liam Sheedy’s side are still in a strong position there as it stands at present – Tipperary (+38), Limerick (+31) and Cork (+13).
Cork know a win or a draw will secure them a Munster final place if Limerick lose or draw. If Cork lose they could be knocked out by Clare on the head-to-head record if Limerick also triumph.
Limerick will be chasing a win to ensure they will contest the Munster final. A draw will be adequate for Limerick but only if Clare win. A loss will only bring Limerick’s participation in the rest of the championship into danger if Clare also win. That is the only other scenario where three teams could finish on the same number of points as they would all be on four. But given the current scoring difference is Limerick (+31), Cork (+13) and Clare (-30), it’s hard to see landslide victories falling in Clare’s favour there.
Clare know after a couple of tough outings of late that they must win in Ennis with a draw or loss ensuring their 2019 campaign is over.
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