In any other year this would also be the promotion decider — not in 2014. In a new development the winner faces another obstacle, in the shape of Offaly in a promotion/relegation decider.
It has all left Carlow manager John Meyler — a former Kerry manager — less than pleased with the authorities.
“They’re moving the goalposts every year,” he said. “They’re looking at the small picture, what’s good for the 1A and the 1B counties, and everyone else is marginalised. It’s all very well saying money should be given to weaker counties but it’s not a case of money, it’s a case of structure, and this structure is wrong.
“Look at how Laois have progressed after they were promoted last year. Two years ago they were beaten 30 points by Cork; last year they won 2A and after great work by manager Seamus Plunkett did really well in 1B, and in the league quarter-final last Sunday were down to 14 men [and still] gave Clare a great game.
“At this level you’re going to suffer a few beatings along the road but teams should be left to learn, to progress, rather than treated like this. Some of the games in Carlow this year had only a few hundred at them; if that had been against a Cork or a Limerick it would have been a few thousand, and that’s another factor, the lost revenue.
“Cork go up from 1B this year, Waterford come down; next year someone else will go up, someone will come down, but that’s not the case in this division and it’s wrong.”
Not that Meyler is looking already to a meeting with Offaly — far from it — especially in light of the fact that Kerry actually won their regular-season meeting.
“The game in Tralee was a dead rubber; we both had won three matches and were already qualified for the final,” said Meyler.
“Since that game we have managed to integrate the eight Mount Leinster Rangers players back into the panel.
“We have Kerry next, we don’t look beyond that.
“I’ve been involved with Kerry hurling on and off for the best part of 22 years, either with club or with county.
“I’m coaching Carlow now, though, and that’s the way it is, you just get on with it.”