A hectic weekend in the Allianz Hurling League saw a lot of the counties fates sealed ahead of next year’s league campaign.
With the leagues restructuring for the 2020 season, this year’s campaign meant that counties were fighting to remain in Division 1 ahead of next year.
The GAA today announced a whopping 20-game fixture list for Saturday as the All-Ireland club finals take centre stage on Sunday with the undoubted pick of the ties coming in the shape of a relegation playoff between heavy-hitters, Kilkenny and Cork, with the loser dropping into Group B next year.
Having looked back at the weekend’s game, we have evaluated whose stocks rose and whose crashed following a hectic weekend of hurling.
Whose Stock Rose?
The Tipperary attacker fired the Premier County to victory over rivals Cork on Sunday with a solid outing, hitting 1-13 in their ‘Rebel route’, 1-4 of which came from play.
The Silvermines club man operated at full forward and really showed Liam Sheedy why he should be trusted with the more central role in 2019.
Forde put in an almost flawless performance from start to finish and with Seamus Callanan playing at centre forward it gives Tipperary real food for thought.
Such is Callanan’s skill, power and experience, it may make sense to play him further out the field as he steps up to the captain’s plate this year and if that is the case, then Forde really put his hand up to take over as Tipp’s key inside forward.
The year 2020 will mark the first time in 33 years that Westmeath gets to dine at hurling’s top table following a strong win over Kerry in the Division 2A final on Sunday.
It was a low-scoring encounter, but the Lake County proved that bit better on the day with Killian Doyle shooting 0-6 (0-4 from play) in the 0-12 to 0-10 win.
Westmeath’s stock is undoubtedly on the rise following the win and next year they can look forward to a league campaign alongside the cream of the crop.
The former Tipperary hurler’s stock continues to rise after he steered his Carlow side to safety in Division 1 ahead of next year’s league restructuring.
Carlow’s stock as a whole has been on a continuous incline for the past two seasons. They have equipped themselves very well in their return to top-flight hurling this season with a memorable draw against 2017 All-Ireland champions, Galway, last month.
Despite this, they still found themselves in a relegation playoff last weekend against an Offaly side who beat them a week prior.
Carlow fell behind early in the game and found themselves 11 points in arrears come half-time. However, they staged a miraculous comeback in the second half to condemn Offaly to the drop and save themselves.
The Carlow rising continues.
Whose Stock Crashed?
The Cork captain’s stock crashed on Sunday, not only because of his sides defeat against Tipperary, but the skipper found himself sent to the line in a moment of madness.
It was pure petulance from Harnedy, granted he was hugely frustrated as his team was behind by 17 points at the time, but Cork needs their leaders to step up more than ever, they don’t need indiscipline from those in such a position.
In some ways Harnedy is lucky that Cork now have to play Kilkenny as he won’t miss any Championship action, on the flip side, however, the Rebels could really be using their skipper this Saturday in Nowlan Park.
Surprisingly enough, Kilkenny flew in under the radar last year to win the Allianz Hurling League, but their performances this year have been even more surprising.
After finishing in fifth place in Division 1A, Kilkenny now find themselves having to play Cork for the right to survive in Group A ahead of next year’s restructuring.
It shouldn’t be underestimated how much stronger Kilkenny will be with the return of their Ballyhale Shamrocks contingent come Championship season, however, seeing a county of their stature playing in a relegation playoff is something that nobody would have predicted.
Kilkenny are at home on Saturday, you would expect them to win, but there can be no disputing that their league performances thus far have sent their stocks plummeting.
The man is revered in Offaly having won two All-Ireland’s, two Leinster’s and two All-Stars, but you can’t deny that Kevin Martin’s stock has taken a hit with this latest setback for Offaly hurlers.
They led Carlow by 11-points at half-time and having beat them only a week prior, really should have been able to close the game out and secure their Division 1 status.
As it stands though, Offaly stare down the barrel of Division 2.