Additional hurling fixtures help make up 20-game super Saturday
Cork and Kilkenny face into futile hurling ‘relegation play-off’
Carlow’s Sean Whelan celebrates while Pat Camon of Offaly shows his dejection following Carlow’s win in the Division 1B relegation playoff at O’Connor Park. Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho
Futile or not here it comes – Cork and Kilkenny facing a hurling “relegation playoff” at Nowlan Park on Saturday afternoon, one of 20 intercounty games to be played across both codes, while Sunday is held reserved for the AIB club finals in Croke Park.
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody had suggested Croke Park might just flick a coin to decide the matter, given it’s not actually a “relegation play-off” at all: with the redrawing of the league for 2020, there is no official relegation from 1A, the game instead deciding who finishes in fifth and sixth place.
That may not be entirely futile, depending on how the new Group A and Group B divisions for 2020 are viewed: whoever wins will join Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Galway and Westmeath in Group A; whoever loses will join Wexford, Clare, Dublin, Laois and Carlow in Group B.
“It would be a futile match really but whatever happens, happens,” Cody suggested, after Kilkenny lost to Wexford on Sunday.
“All I know is we were asked during the week whether we were happy to let one team go into one group and the other go into the other and I certainly would think that would be the sensible thing to do.”
For perhaps not futile reasons, the game will also afford Kilkenny and Cork the opportunity to “clear” straight red cards handed out on Sunday, forward Séamus Harnedy for Cork against Tipperary, and defender Conor Delaney for Kilkenny. Otherwise these automatic one-match suspensions would have carried over for the first round of the championship in May.
The three remaining Division One hurling quarter-finals will also be played on Saturday afternoon: Waterford won the venue toss and will host Clare at Walsh Park (3pm), while Galway already had home advantage at Pearse Stadium for the meeting with Wexford (1.30pm), and likewise Tipperary for their meeting with Dublin at Semple Stadium (4.30pm).
Saturday will also see 16 games played across all four divisions of the Allianz Football League, in the penultimate sixth round, with Sunday, St Patrick’s Day, left entirely for club action with the two All-Ireland finals taking place in Croke Park. There was a provision to play some games on the Bank Holiday Monday, but the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) decided against this option.
For new Kerry manager Peter Keane, one point from the last two games against Mayo and Roscommon would guarantee a return to the Allianz League Division One final for the second time in three years.
Even if they lost both, it’s probable that they would still reach the final as they are four points ahead of Dublin, Mayo and Galway.
Dublin’s bid to reach the league final for a seventh successive year continues against Tyrone in Croke Park. Mickey Harte’s men haven’t beaten Dublin since the 2013 Division One campaign. Since then, Dublin have won six and drawn two of their eight league and championship meetings, the most recent coming in last year’s All-Ireland final, where they finished six points clear (2-17 to 1-14).
Allianz Hurling Division One quarter-finals:
Galway v Wexford, Pearse Stadium, 1.30pm
Waterford v Clare, Walsh Park, 3pm
Tipperary v Dublin, Semple Stadium, 4.30pm
Hurling Division 1A relegation play-off:
Kilkenny v Cork - Nowlan Park, 2pm
Allianz Football League
Monaghan v Cavan, St Tiernach’s Park, Clones 2pm
Galway v Roscommon, Pearse Stadium, Salthill 3.30pm
Dublin v Tyrone, Croke Park, Dublin 7pm
Kerry v Mayo, Austin Stack Park, Tralee 7pm
Clare v Meath, Cusack Park, Ennis 1.30pm
Cork v Donegal, Páirc Uí Rinn, Cork 2pm
Kildare v Tipperary, St Conleth’s Park, 2.30pm
Armagh v Fermanagh, St Oliver Plunkett Park, 3pm
Longford v Sligo, Pearse Park, 2pm
Louth v Westmeath, Drogheda, 2pm
Offaly v Laois, O’Connor Park, 2pm
Carlow v Down, Netwatch Cullen Park, 3pm
London v Waterford, McGovern Park, 12.30pm
Antrim v Wicklow, Corrigan Park, 2pm
Wexford v Limerick, Innovate Wexford Park, 3pm
Derry v Leitrim, Celtic Park, 4pm.
AIB All-Ireland senior club hurling final: Ballyhale Shamrock v St Thomas - Croke Park, 2pm;
AIB All-Ireland senior club football final: Corofin v Dr Crokes Croke Park 3.45pm.