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Spring to summer - how does 2022 hurling league form compare to championship?

The42′s take a look at how the league form of hurling sides compares with their championship performances.

WITH THE PROVINCIAL hurling finals now upon us, it’s worth pausing for a moment to take stock of what we’ve seen so far. 

10 teams in the Liam MacCarthy Cup have been whittled down to six following the conclusion of the round-robin series, and when stacked against the events of the league, some interesting contrasts in form have emerged.

That number becomes eight when you account for the Joe McDonagh Cup finalists Kerry and Antrim, who will both progress to the preliminary quarter-finals.

Let’s take a look at where the teams are now compared to their league standings. 

Leinster

Galway

henry-shefflin Galway manager Henry Shefflin. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

League: 3rd in Group A

Championship [so far]: Leinster final

A mixed bag of results in the league [three wins and two losses] has been complimented by a string of impressive Galway performances. Unbeaten in the round-robin series, they now have a provincial final to look forward to, and an intriguing rematch with Kilkenny. Their dramatic win over the Cats last month was their most important result of the competition as Henry Shefflin faced down his old master. The sequel will surely be another testing affair.

Kilkenny

tj-reid-stands-over-a-free Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

League: Semi-final 

Championship [so far]: Leinster final

Kilkenny’s league campaign finished at the penultimate stage after narrowly falling short against Cork, but they’ve surpassed that mark in the championship by reaching the Leinster final. Their future was unknown until the final day of the round-robin series, although their survival was never in any real jeopardy either. And even after losing out to Wexford in that game, they were still assured of a place in the decider against Galway where they will hope to avenge for that defeat last month.

Wexford

rory-oconnor-strikes-a-free Wexford's Rory O'Connor. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

League: Semi-final

Championship [so far]: 3rd placed All-Ireland qualifier

A promising league campaign culminated in a semi-final appearance where Darragh Egan’s side were outclassed by Waterford. They recovered from that heavy loss with an impressive comeback against Galway to snatch a draw in their Leinster SHC opener. A one-point defeat to Dublin and a shock draw against Westmeath brought a dip in their form before rallying with a win over Kilkenny on the final day. That result ensured their progression in the All-Ireland championship as third-placed qualifier.

Dublin

chris-crummey Dublin star Chris Crummey. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

League: 3rd place in Division 1 Group B

Championship: Eliminated at provincial stage

Dublin’s league and championship campaigns produced similar outcomes, although they were unlucky to miss out on a place in the Division 1 semi-finals. As expected, they picked up wins against Westmeath and Laois in the Leinster SHC, as well as a crucial victory over Wexford. But Mattie Kenny’s side struggled against the big two of Galway and Kilkenny, and will play no further part in the 2022 championship.

Westmeath

joe-fortune-reacts Westmeath players in action against Laois. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

League: Division 2A winners

Championship: Eliminated at provincial stage

After winning last year’s Joe McDonagh Cup, Westmeath were always likely to struggle in the top tier. But Joe Fortune’s charges will have a lot of positives to reflect on from this championship. A famous draw against Wexford is the big highlight, along with a win over Laois to preserve their Liam MacCarthy Cup status.

Laois

paddy-purcell-celebrates-scoring Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

League: 5th in Division 1 Group B

Championship: Eliminated at provincial stage

Similar to Westmeath, retaining a spot in hurling’s top level in both the league and championship was always going to be a difficult challenge for Laois. They passed the first stage of that test, edging out Antrim by just one point to stay up. But they were unable to maintain that momentum in the championship, ultimately playing out a winless round-robin series. They will play in the Joe McDonagh Cup next year unless Kerry win the final against Antrim.

Munster

Limerick

tom-morrissey-takes-a-shot Tom Morrissey striking the ball for Limerick. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

League: 4th in Division 1 Group A

Championship [so far]: Munster final

An uninspiring run of league results amounted to nothing more than a minor wobble for Limerick as they quickly tapped back into their championship form of last year. They enjoyed commanding wins over Cork and Tipperary while also holding off a spirited Waterford side, and clinching a draw against Clare on the way to booking their spot in the final.

Clare

tony-kelly-hits-a-free Clare star forward Tony Kelly. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

League: 5th in Division 1 Group A

Championship [so far]: Munster final

After an uneventful league, Brian Lohan’s team has certainly captured the public’s attention throughout the course of the Munster championship. They impressed in their opening two rounds, scoring statement victories over Tipperary and Cork before that compelling draw against All-Ireland champions Limerick. The Banner, along with Galway and Limerick, are unbeaten so far as they aim to dethrone John Kiely’s side in the final.

Cork

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kieran-kingston-during-the-game Cork boss Kieran Kingston. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

League: Division 1 finalists 

Championship [so far]: 3rd placed All-Ireland qualifier

The promise that Cork showed in the league appeared to be disappearing quickly at the start of the championship. Their last rites were all but administered after dwindling performances against Limerick and Clare. A restorative win against Waterford granted them a lifeline, and a follow-up win over Tipperary sends them safely through to the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final.

Waterford 

austin-gleeson-scores-a-point-from-the-sideline Austin Gleeson on the ball for Waterford. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

League: Division 1 winners

Championship [so far]: Eliminated at provincial stage

From league kingpins to championship dropouts, Waterford have endured a disappointing Munster campaign. They continue to struggle with the round-robin dynamic, as they have failed to progress from the competition once again. Their league momentum looked to be still with them after their first two outings against Tipperary and Limerick, but they lost their footing when they squared off with Cork and Clare.

Tipperary

noel-mcgrath-dejected Tipp's Noel McGrath. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

League: 4th in Division 1 Group B

Championship: Eliminated at provincial stage

The Premier county have a similarly problematic relationship with the round-robin competition since its inception in 2018 when they also failed to qualify out of the province. They drop out of the championship race after zero wins from four.

Joe McDonagh Cup – Kerry v Antrim

Kerry

League: Division 2A semi-final

Championship [so far]: Joe McDonagh Cup final

Antrim

League: Division 1 relegation play-off

Championship [so far]: Joe McDonagh Cup final

Kerry, who were just edged out of a place in the Division 2A final, have reached the Joe McDonagh Cup final against an Antrim outfit who survived a relegation play-off against Offaly this year to preserve their Division 1 status.

Regardless of the outcome, both Joe McDonagh finalists will play a part in the 2022 senior hurling championship as they progress to the preliminary quarter-finals. Should Antrim prevail, they will go straight into the Leinster SHC next year, but if it’s a Kerry victory, they will face Tipperary in a relegation play-off to fight it out for a spot in the 2023 Munster SHC.

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