Thursday 18 January 2018

Head-to-head rule dilutes drama

martin breheny

The chickens that most counties claim they didn't even know existed until two weeks ago are now squawking home to roost, leaving angry managers spitting feathers.

It's a natural law of managerial life to complain about regulations that impact directly on you, but in the case of league placings being decided on head-to-head clashes as opposed to scoring difference, there's a wider dimension.

The head-to-head method has damaged Division 1 of the NHL, rendering Galway v Cork on Sunday week a meaningless clash because both have already qualified for the final. Under the scoring-difference system, Waterford would still be in contention as they are only two points behind Galway. Now, even if Waterford beat Kilkenny and Galway lose to Cork, Galway will reach the final because of their win over Waterford.

In Division 3B Wicklow and Louth, who have already qualified for the final, meet in a meaningless final group game on Sunday week. Under the scoring difference, Roscommon would still be in contention but even if they finish level on points with Louth they will lose out because they were beaten in the head-to-head.

In the NFL, Cork are through to the Division 1 final, despite being level with Mayo and just two points ahead of Dublin.

It comes down to this: the head-to-head system may suit at club level with small groups, but it should not be allowed to distort the National Leagues in the way it has. Bin it for 2011.

Irish Independent

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