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Explainer: What’s at stake for teams in the final round of the Allianz Hurling League?

Check out where you county stands ahead of the weekend’s action

THE FINAL ROUND of Allianz National Hurling League games take place this weekend and there’s still an awful lot to play for.

But what’s at stake for the teams involved across the divisions and what does your county need to do to go up, stay up or spoil someone else’s day?

Here’s the current state of play:

Division 1A

Cork, Tipperary and Galway have already booked their places in the last eight, with the remaining slot from Division 1A to be taken by Dublin or Clare. Tipp and Cork will fight it out for top spot, which brings with it a quarter-final clash with the fourth-placed team from Division 1B.

Dublin and Galway are on four points but Galway have qualified for the knockout phase as they have beaten Clare and Kilkenny. Dublin lost out to Clare last weekend and need to avoid defeat against Galway this weekend to steer clear of a relegation playoff. But if Dublin lose, and Clare beat Kilkenny, the Banner County will advance to the quarter-finals and condemn Dublin to a relegation scrap with Kilkenny on the head-to-head rule.

There is no way that Kilkenny can avoid a relegation playoff, even if they beat Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare. For the Cats, next Sunday is effectively a dead rubber.

Quarter-final places: Cork, Tipperary, Galway

Still in the hunt: Dublin, Clare

Relegation playoff: Kilkenny

Davy Fitzgerald Can Davy Fitzgerald steer Clare clear of a relegation playoff? Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Division 1B

Arguably the biggest game of the weekend is fixed for Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday, as hosts Wexford and Waterford fight it out for Division 1A status in 2016. Waterford are top and need to avoid defeat to make an immediate return to the top flight. Wexford need to win to pip their South-East rivals.

The four quarter-final spots from Division 1B have already been decided, with Limerick and Offaly joining Waterford and Wexford in the last eight. Bottom two Laois and Antrim will face each other in a relegation playoff, with the losers of that game having a second chance to retain 1B status against the winners of Division 2A on Sunday, April 12.

Quarter-final places: Waterford, Wexford, Limerick, Offaly

Relegation playoff: Laois, Antrim

Derek McGrath Derek McGrath's Waterford need only avoid defeat on Sunday to book a return to Division 1A Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Division 2A

There’s a breathless finish in store at the top of Division 2A, as Westmeath, Carlow, Kerry and Derry are still all in the hunt for a place in the final on April 4. The winners of the Westmeath-Carlow tie will definitely qualify for the showpiece decider and keep their hopes of promotion to Division 1B alive.

But this is where it gets complicated…If Westmeath and Carlow draw, and Kerry and Derry win, all four of the top teams would be on seven points, meaning that scoring difference will come into play to decide final placings. Westmeath and Carlow have a definite edge in this regard and the current scoring differences for the teams chasing coveted final spots read as follows: Westmeath (+37), Carlow (+32), Kerry (+3) and Derry (+1). Wicklow have already been relegated to Division 2B.

In the hunt: Westmeath, Carlow, Kerry, Derry

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Relegated: Wicklow

 

Michael Ryan Westmeath boss Michael Ryan has his eyes fixed on a Division 2A final slot Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Division 2B

Kildare have already guaranteed themselves of a place in the Division 2 final having won all of their previous games to date. Elsewhere, Down, Armagh and Meath can still join them but Down are in the driving seat as they prepare for a visit to Meath.

At the bottom, Donegal are doomed to a relegation play-off and Mayo are in real danger of joining them. The Westerners must get the job done against Armagh and pray that results elsewhere go their way to avoid a clash with Donegal on March 29.

In the final: Kildare

In the hunt: Down, Armagh, Meath

Relegation playoff: Donegal

Brian Lawlor celebrates at the final whistle Brian Lawlor's Kildare have already booked their place in the Division 2B final Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Division 3A

It’s a case of two out of three in Division 3A for a place in the divisional final. Tyrone lead the way at the top of the table on seven points, one clear of Roscommon and Monaghan. A draw for Tyrone at home to Roscommon will be good enough to send them through. At the bottom, Fermanagh’s relegation fate has already been sealed.

In the hunt: Tyrone, Roscommon, Monaghan

Relegated: Fermanagh

Division 3B

Longford have already booked their place in the Division 3B final, where they will be joined by Warwickshire or Leitrim. Longford are home to Sligo, who are out of contention, in the final round, as Warwickshire and Leitrim go head-to-head for a final place. A draw would be good enough for Warwickshire to keep alive their dreams of Division 3A hurling next year.

In the final: Longford

In the hunt: Warwickshire, Leitrim

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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