Paudie Palmer predicts the Cork club hurling relegation pairings

After this weekend's action-packed slate of hurling matches, 30 clubs move into the knockout stages, with 10 battling to avoid the drop
Paudie Palmer predicts the Cork club hurling relegation pairings

Sean O'Leary Hayes, Midleton, Eoin Sheehan and Patrick Rourke, Na Piarsaigh. The city side must beat Carrigtwohill or head into a Premier Senior Hurling relegation play-off. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

IF tables aren’t your thing, you might be advised to give this week’s offerings a skip.

It probably began last weekend when we became aware of the Alfred Dunhill Links Golf Championship, a significant European Tour event.

Normally, golf would be an outlier event for this column, but the discovery that 23-year-old John Murphy, who played hurling and football with Kinsale was talking part, drew us in.

It should also be mentioned that the weekend, with little or no club activity, could be described as the calm before the storm. We will return to the storm and the tables.

Watching the leader board from the Old Course at St Andrew’s where the young Kinsale man was mixing it with the big boys, two of whom were part of Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team, brought a sense of pride to the Rebel territories.

The GAA angle doesn’t end with his local club; his father Owen, also a serious golfer, played for Valley Rovers and he is a cousin of Dr Con Murphy, one of Cork’s best-known GAA personalities.

Now that John’s professional career is up and running, we wish him all the best and whatever the future may bring him, be assured, he has a personality to match the likability of the Offaly GAA icon Shane Lowry.

John Murphy. Picture: PA
John Murphy. Picture: PA

On to the tables and this weekend the five county adult hurling championships will move to the next level with 30 Round 3 games.

It is generally accepted that the Cork championship model is one of the best in the country, if not the best.

Each team is guaranteed three games, all of which count; there are no dead rubbers around here.

After the final group games on Sunday, 30 of the 60 teams will move to the qualifiers; 10 go to the relegation play-offs. 

So that’s 66.66% (do you remember the reoccurring decimal) of the teams will be guaranteed at least one more game.

As a consequence of every score, every save, and every single action counting, each of the six games in the five championships will begin at the same time.

The Lower Intermediate clashes will throw-in at 2pm on Saturday, the Intermediate A events at 4pm, while at 7.30pm the Premier Intermediate teams will begin battle.

On Sunday, the Premier Senior ties will throw-in at 2pm with the R3 hurling curtain coming down at 4pm with the Senior A games.

One can only imagine the amount of interaction on all forms of contact, including the full remit of the media — social and otherwise — to figure out who has qualified for automatic semi-final slots (one in the Premier Senior, two in the other four), what the quarter-final pairings are, and who will contest the relegation play-offs.

Those of you who are good at the tables could find yourself gainfully employed.

An indication of how competitive these Round 3 games will be can be provided by two non-scientific observations. Of the 60 teams taking part, 47 have a chance of making the knockout stages, yes I am aware that mathematical chances and real chances may not be equivalent.

Just an illustrative statistic from the 2020 premier intermediate championship; after two rounds Courcey Rovers had lost both games and had a scoring difference of -8.

In their Round 3 game, they defeated Aghada 2-22 to 0-13 and in the quarter-finals. In the same competition, but in a different group, Ballinhassig ended up with three points but failed to qualify.

Next non-scientific observation; 25 of the 60 teams could be preparing for relegation.

For any club who may believe relegation couldn’t happenthey might be advised to take a look over the ditch.

In Kerry — this applies to football — they run their senior championship at the same time as intermediate, junior, and novice championships.

In this senior club competition, the winner of which will represent Kerry in Munster, if a divisional side wins the knockout senior football championship, the eight teams are divided into groups of four.

At the conclusion of the group games, the bottom two, play in a relegation final and whoever loses, will lose their senior status unless they reach the county senior championship final.

Complicated? Don’t talk to me! 

Anyway, in the 2021 relegation derby, the two runners are from Killarney — Legion and the famed Dr Croke’s. Honestly, I didn’t see that coming!


It would probably take a whole supplement to figure out all the possible quarter-final pairings after this weekend's hurling action, so we will stay with the basement brigade and suggest who the five Slán Leat finals may feature.

In the Premier Senior, it is hard to look beyond Charleville and the loser of Na Piarsaigh and Carrigtwohill.

For the Senior A, the docket will have Ballyhea and Cloyne. The Premier Intermediate may very well, be an all East Cork affair of Aghada and Youghal.

In the Intermediate A it could be Glen Rovers and the loser of Blackrock and Douglas while in the Lower Intermediate there may be a number of combinations, but we will go with the Barrs and Grenagh.

Regardless of our views, this weekend will move Super Saturday and Super Sunday on to another level.

  • Contact: Twitter: @paudiep

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