Saturday 10 December 2016

Down to the wire

The final round of the Allianz Hurling League will produce high drama across the country with Kilkenny, Galway, Dublin,Tipperary and Waterford all in contention for places in the Division 1 final. Offaly and Wexford are battling relegation which leaves Cork as the only team in that group with nothing to play for. In Division 2, Limerick are waiting to see if they will play Clare, Antrim, Carlow or Laois in the final. Martin Breheny takes a look back at the season so far and what each team needs to do tomorrow

Published 16/04/2011 | 05:00

Pre-League prediction

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7th

Current placing

3rd

Bad luck

Galway 2-11 Dublin 0-14 (Round 5)

The better side overall, Dublin enjoyed the majority of possession, but shot 19 costly wides. Even then, it looked as if they would get a draw, only to lose to a stoppage-time goal from Eanna Ryan.

Good luck

Dublin 1-16 Tipperary 1-15 (Round 2)

It was best to play Tipperary in the earlier rounds before the All-Ireland champions had fully powered up.

Best performance

Dublin 1-17 Kilkenny 3-11 (Round 6)

After losing to Galway a week earlier, it was a crucial test for Dublin: they responded brilliantly. Their battling finish was most impressive.

Worst performance

Galway 2-10 Dublin 0-13 (Round 5)

It was good in all facets except finishing. However, it's always a bad day when a side shoots 19 wides and loses by three points.

What they need

A win over Cork, combined with Galway or Kilkenny losing, would earn them a place in the final for the first time in 65 years.

Title Odds

16/1

Cork

Pre-League prediction

4th

Current placing

6th

Bad luck

Narrow defeats. Their three defeats (Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford) were all by a single point. With any luck Cork would be near the top of the table.

Good luck

Not much of it around so far this season.

Best performance

Cork 1-20 Galway 1-17 (Round 3)

They played really well in the first, second and fourth quarters. Sloppy in the third quarter, but, overall, they appeared to have plenty of positives to work on.

Worst performance

Wexford 1-16 Cork 1-15 (Round 6)

Everybody else had beaten Wexford, so it was as if Cork assumed the game would take care of itself. It didn't.

Odds

N/A (Can't win title; safe from relegation)

Galway

Pre-League prediction

3rd

Current placing

2nd

Bad luck

No specific stand-out example.

Good luck

That their fate is still in their own hands after that dismal effort against Tipperary.

Best performance

Galway 4-14 Kilkenny 3-13 (Round 4)

Apart from the first four minutes when they conceded 2-3, they outscored Kilkenny by 4-14 to 1-10. That doesn't happen very often for anybody against Kilkenny.

Worst performance

Tipperary 4-23 Galway 1-14 (Round 6)

Not just the worst performance of this League, but their most inept for a long time.

What they need

A win over Waterford earns them a place in the final, irrespective of other results.

Title Odds

9/4

Kilkenny

Pre-League prediction

1st

Current placing

1st

Bad luck

Nothing specific.

Good luck

Kilkenny 0-14 Cork 1-10 (Round 2)

Kilkenny showed all their trademark resolve, but were fortunate that Cork weren't a bit more composed in attack.

Best performance

Kilkenny 1-17 Tipperary 1-10 (Round 1)

Both sides were well below full strength, but it was still important for Kilkenny that they put down an early marker, which they did after trailing by four points after 22 minutes.

Worst performance

Galway 4-14 Kilkenny 3-13 (Round 4)

Leading by nine points after four minutes, they were trailing by nine in the 52nd minute. That's sloppy by any standards, but positively treasonable for Kilkenny.

What they need

Beat Offaly and they book a place in the final.

Title Odds

4/6

Offaly

Pre-League prediction

6th

Current placing

7th

Bad luck

Waterford 2-19 Offaly 1-19 (Round 6)

Unfortunate not to have scored a few more goals in the second half.

Good luck

Offaly 2-15 Wexford 1-16 (Round 5)

Venue was everything in this bottom-of-the-table clash. Advantage Offaly, who were at home.

Best performance

Offaly 2-15 Wexford 1-16 (Round 5)

Their only win so far, it has to be regarded as their most satisfying outing, although they also did well when losing to Waterford last Sunday week.

Worst performance

Dublin 2-23 Offaly 1-13 (Round 3)

Losing by 13 points at home to Dublin was not on the Offaly script, especially since they will be meeting each other in the championship on May 29.

What they need

A win over Kilkenny secures their Division 1 place; if they lose and Wexford lose, the latter will be relegated. If Offaly lose and Wexford draw or win, Joe Dooley's men will be relegated.

relegation Odds

8/1

Tipperary

Pre-League prediction

2nd

Current placing

4th

Bad luck

Dublin 1-16 Tipperary 1-15 (Round 2)

Tipp probably deserved a draw. The extra point would make a huge difference now.

Good luck

Hasn't really been a factor.

Best performance

Tipperary 4-23 Galway 1-14 (Round 6)

Once they opened their shoulders, they flattened Galway.

Worst performance

Kilkenny 1-17 Tipperary 1-10 (Round 1)

Outscored by 0-9 to 0-1 in the final 12 minutes of the first half, it was a stark reminder of what Kilkenny can do when they move up through the gears.

What they need

A win over Wexford, combined with defeats for Galway and Dublin, earns them a final place.

Title Odds

4/1

Waterford

Pre-League prediction

5th

Current placing

4th

Bad luck

Waterford 3-16 Dublin 2-19 (Round 1)

Waterford should have taken both points on home territory.

Good luck

Waterford 1-11 Wexford 0-12 (Round 2)

Didn't play well, but still took the points.

Best performance

Waterford 0-18 Cork 0-17 (Round 4)

A feisty display saw Davy's boys home in a photo-finish.

Worst performance

Waterford 1-11 Wexford 0-12 (Round 2)

They won, but would expect to score more than 1-11 against a defence that had been hit for 1-24 by Galway in the previous round

What they need

A win over Galway and defeats for Dublin and Tipperary earns them a final place.

Title Odds

20/1

Wexford

Pre-League prediction

8th

Current placing

8th

Bad luck

Offaly 2-15 Wexford 1-16 (Round 5)

Wrong venue. If it were in Wexford Park, they might have edged a close call.

Good luck

Wexford 1-16 Cork 1-15 (Round 6)

Wexford were fortunate that Cork were so poor in the second half. Otherwise, Wexford's fate would be sealed by now.

Best performance

Wexford 1-16 Cork 1-15 (Round 6)

Admittedly, Cork were poor, but it was still a spirited effort by confidence-shy Wexford who had lost their previous five games.

Worst performance

Galway 1-24 Wexford 0-6 (Round 1)

A dismal opening to their campaign set an unfortunate tone for what lay ahead.

What they need

A draw or a win against Tipperary, combined with a defeat for Offaly, would ensure survival.

relegation Odds

1/25

DIVISION 2

Antrim

Pre-League prediction

4th

Current placing

3rd

Bad luck

Clare 2-14 Antrim 2-13 (Round 2)

How valuable even a draw would have been for Antrim.

Good luck

Antrim 0-10 Carlow 1-6 (Round 4)

Antrim scored just 0-5 from open play at home and still won. Now there's a lucky break.

Best performance

Clare 2-14 Antrim 2-13 (Round 2)

Antrim lost, but played well against the second favourites for promotion.

Worst performance

Laois 0-20 Antrim 0-16 (Round 3)

This a game Antrim would have targeted as one they had to win, but managed just 0-4 from open play, leaving them too reliant on free-taker, Neil McManus.

What they need

A win over Limerick and defeat for Clare would see them through to the final.

Title Odds

66/1

Carlow

Pre-League prediction

5th

Current placing

4th

Bad luck

Antrim 0-10 Carlow 1-6 (Round 4)

If Carlow had home advantage, they would probably have won.

Good luck

Carlow 2-15 Westmeath 1-14 (Round 6)

Timing is everything. It might have been different if this was an early round meeting, but by last Sunday week, Westmeath's confidence tanks were empty.

Best performance

Carlow 0-20 Laois 2-10 (Round 2)

Another solid effort by Carlow against neighbours whom they also beat in last year's All-Ireland qualifiers.

Worst performance

Antrim 0-10 Carlow 1-6 (Round 4)

Okay, so it was in Casement Park, but Carlow would still expect to score more than 1-6.

What they need

A win over Clare and a defeat for Antrim would leave the second place in the final decided on scoring difference, involving Carlow, Clare, Antrim and Laois, provided they beat Kerry.

Clare

Pre-League prediction

2nd

Current placing

2nd

Bad luck

Limerick 2-9 Clare 0-6 (Round 1)

Clare would have been better prepared for the big challenge later on in the campaign.

Good luck

Clare 2-14 Antrim 2-13 (Round 2)

Two crucial points taken back from Casement Park when they might so easily have left empty-handed.

Best performance

Clare 6-23 Kerry 1-18 (Round 5)

Clare would always expect to beat Kerry, but they ran up a huge return which greatly boosted their scoring difference.

Worst performance

Laois 3-16 Clare 3-13 (Round 6)

It leaves Clare needing to win against Carlow tomorrow when they thought they would have secured a place in the final by now.

What they need

A win over Carlow secures a place in the final.

Title Odds

6/4

Down

Pre-League prediction

8th

Current placing

7th

Bad luck

Antrim 5-8 Down 1-14 (Round 6)

They scored more often than Antrim, but were undermined by conceding some sloppy goals.

Good luck

A scarce commodity for the black and red boys.

Best performance

Down 3-15 Laois 3-11 (Round 5)

Down led by 13 points after 64 minutes and while they conceded three goals late on, they had banked enough to secure the points.

Worst performance

Clare 5-22 Down 0-6 (Round 4)

Down were always headed for defeat, but would have expected to be more competitive.

Kerry

Pre-League prediction

7th

Current placing

6th

Bad luck

Nothing which made a real difference to their campaign.

Good luck

Kerry 1-15 Westmeath 1-13 (Round 4)

This was always likely to be important in the relegation battle. Kerry had home advantage which may have proved crucial.

Best performance

Kerry 2-23 Down 3-16 (Round 2)

A vital win over rivals who were also regarded as relegation contenders.

Worst performance

Carlow 2-17 Kerry 1-12 (Round 3)

Carlow were favourites, but Kerry would have expected to be closer than eight points.

Laois

Pre-League prediction

3rd

Current placing

5th

Bad luck

Limerick 1-18 Laois 0-16 (Round 4)

If they had Limerick in Portlaoise, this would have been really interesting.

Good luck

Not much of it around so far.

Best performance

Laois 3-16 Clare 3-13 (Round 6)

It showed just how good Laois can be at their best -- unfortunately for them, they didn't deliver it consistently over the previous rounds.

Worst performance

Down 3-15 Laois 3-11 (Round 5)

The final scoreline disguises what was a bad Laois performance. They were 13 points behind after 64 minutes.

What they need

A win over Kerry and defeats for Clare and Antrim would leave the second final slot to be decided on scoring difference involving Clare, Antrim, Laois and Carlow.

Limerick

Pre-League prediction

1st

Current placing

1st

Bad luck

They have ensured that it wasn't allowed have any impact.

Good luck

Haven't needed any so far.

Best performance

Limerick 2-9 Clare 0-6 (Round 1)

Limerick put down an early marker against what would have been regarded as their biggest promotion rivals.

Worst performance

Limerick 1-18 Laois 0-16 (Round 4)

Limerick won, but weren't quite as fluent as in other games.

What they need

Nothing -- they are already through to the final.

Title Odds

1/ 2

Westmeath

Pre-League prediction

6th

Current placing

8th

Bad luck

Kerry 1-15 Westmeath 1-13 (Round 4)

Westmeath had a late goal chance which was blocked. A win in this game might kick-started their season.

Good luck

It hasn't glanced their way so far.

Best performance

Kerry 1-15 Westmeath 1-13 (Round 4)

It was the closest Westmeath came to winning a game.

Worst performance

Laois 1-19 Westmeath 0-9 (Round 1)

Westmeath needed a good start, but were way off the pace.

What they need

It's too late -- they'll be in Division 3A next year.

Irish Independent

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