THERE is a lot still to play for as the regular season of the RedFM County Hurling Leagues concludes this weekend.
As well as semi-final spots in Divisions 1, 2 and 3, teams are also playing for their placings in the revamped league of 2023, which will feature six divisions. The top five sides in each of Division 1 Group A and B will form Division 1, with the sides sixth, seventh, eight and ninth in the new Division 2 along with the finalists in this year’s Division 2. Unfortunately for the teams finishing bottom of their Division 1 sections, they will be in Division 3 next year.
In the current Division 1 Group A, Douglas have already secured top spot with eight wins from eight games played to date and they will look to round off a perfect record when they host Na Piarsaigh – for whom a top-five finish is likely out of reach – on Saturday.
Blackrock and Fr O’Neills are the two sides who can join Douglas in the last four, each with 12 points. The Rockies are away to Newtownshandrum (currently fifth but not guaranteed top flight next year) on Friday night, while O’Neills host Fermoy – seventh, but a point behind Newtown – on Saturday.
While Bishopstown, who face Killeagh, are level on points with Newcestown at the bottom, the West Cork side have played their nine games and have a far worse scoring difference, so only a massive Bishopstown loss would condemn them to Division 3.
The two qualifiers from Group B are known as Sarsfields and Kanturk are both on 15 points from eight games, each having won seven and lost only one. That leaves them four clear of Charleville, but the first and second spots are still to be decided.
As it happens, the top two face each other in Riverstown tomorrow afternoon – going into the game, Sars have a scoring difference of 115 compared to 50 for their Duhallow opponents so a draw would give the home team top spot but otherwise, it’s winner-take-all with the losers clashing with Douglas in the semis.
Charleville and fourth-placed Erin’s Own are assured of Division 1 spots for next year. Glen Rovers currently hold fifth in Group B, two points ahead of Carrigtwohill, to whom they travel on Saturday. As head-to-head is the first tie-break used when two teams finish level on points, a win for Carrig on home soil would propel them above the northsiders.
Ballymartle, away to St Finbarr’s on Saturday, are bottom at the moment on three points, one behind Bride Rovers, who travel to Charleville on Friday night.
In Division 2 Group A, Courcey Rovers and Kilworth are assured of semi-final spots, both on 12 points, four ahead of Carrigaline – Kilworth’s win over Carrig last time out ensured that things were cut and dried with a game to spare.
Results in the final games will determine who finishes first and second. Kilworth are away to Watergrasshill, who are bottom and in need of a win while hoping that Ballinhassig lose. Courceys take on Blackrock’s second team, who are in fourth spot but are not fully assured of a Division 3 place for next year.
In Division 2 Group B, there is an unusual situation in that there are six teams who could conceivably make the semi-finals – and potentially the final, meaning a Division 2 place for 2023 – but one of those will finish outside the top five and so operate in Division 4 instead.
Ballincollig are on top and through to the semis, with 14 points on the board, having beaten Mayfield on Thursday night after hitting five goals through Conor Kinsella (2), James Dwyer, Robbie Bourke and Ronán Power.
Éire Óg are second with 12 points, having played all nine games as well.
Inniscarra and Valley Rovers, who face each other this weekend, have 11 and 10 points respectively, while Bandon and Castlelyons are also both on 10. Bandon host Milford while Castlelyons take on Cloyne.
Division 3 had three sections, all of which have been completed. Similar to the county championships, the top two sides in each group advance to the knockout stage, with the two best group winners – St Catherine’s and Lisgoold – going to the semi-finals while the other group winners, Castlemartyr, will contest the quarter-finals along with Aghabullogue, Aghada and Cloughduv.