The group phase of the Club Championship reaches its conclusion this weekend with places in the finals – and relegation playoffs – on the line.
In Group 1 of the Senior Club Championship, it’s all fairly straightforward as Dr Crokes go head-to-head with Austin Stacks in a straight shoot out for the top spot. Both sides have won their first two games and so find themselves joint top on four points heading into the deciding fixture. Crokes just about came out the right side of a close one in Strand Road last weekend and will be favourites to advance to another final, although it has to be said that Stacks’ championship form so far belies their newfound Division 2 status.
At the foot of the table, winless Kerins O’Rahilly’s and An Ghaeltacht face a playoff to avoid a playoff when they meet in Gallarus. The loser will play the bottom placed team from Group 2 to see who will be relegated to intermediate level.
In the event of a draw in either game, points difference will need to be used to decide the final standings. (The primary tie-breaking method is the outcome of the game between the two teams in question, but naturally that won’t work in the case of a draw).
That means a draw will be enough to see Crokes through to the final (+16 compared to Stacks’ +8), and a draw against Rahilly’s will condemn An Ghaeltacht to a relegation playoff (-17 versus -7).
Things are even more complicated in Group 2. Dingle currently lead the way on four points so victory over Legion in Páirc an Ághasaigh will make it three from three and confirm their spot in the final. If Legion win, however, they will join Dingle on four points and top the group on head-to-head – but only if Rathmore fail to beat Kenmare.
If that happens, Rathmore would be joint bottom with Kenmare and actually finish fourth on head-to-head.
If Rathmore and Legion win (sorry, I’m even giving myself a headache here), then Dingle, Legion and Rathmore will all have four points and it will come down to points difference. Dingle are currently far better off in this regard so Legion would need to win by twelve or more to top the group. Rathmore would also need to win by at least eleven.
Long story short, Dingle are firm favourites to finish first and Kenmare need to beat Rathmore to have any hope.
In the Intermediate, Kilcummin and Spa can top their groups and book a place in the semi-finals with victory in their final group games against Brosna and Templenoe respectively. Glenflesk and St Mary’s, meanwhile, are already through to the last four.
Down in the Junior Premier, Beaufort and Fossa have already confirmed their places in the semi-finals thanks to favourable results in Round 2. (For more on Fossa’s David Clifford-inspired victory over St Michael’s-Foilmore, see Sport p5.)