Our writers look ahead to the major talking points ahead of the weekend's Allianz League action.
Cork and Limerick both fired up for Páirc Uí Chaoimh clash
It’s five years since Cork last strung together three League victories in a row. They may be the one hurling team that comes with the cuckoo and beating Westmeath in Mullingar as they did last weekend won’t be getting too many supporters excited.
Yet, and now with all the Fitzgibbon Cup commitments out of the way, were they to see off Limerick on Sunday it would be represent progress. Consistency has been so lacking in Cork’s recent spring campaigns and another victory would also push them towards a welcome knock-out spot.
Ahead of their meeting with Limerick in May, expect shadow-boxing to be mentioned once or twice before and after this game but these are two teams who should show plenty of intent.
The 2018 All-Ireland semi-final result aside, Limerick will want to dispel the theory that the one team they have a hang-up about, aside perhaps from Clare, is Cork. It’s 19 years since Limerick last beat Cork in Munster SHC fare in Páirc Uí Chaoimh although that statistic carries a fallacy in that they’ve only met there three times since, the latest being the 2018 draw.
No team under John Kiely holds back and he will want a first League win over Cork since 2017.
What League legacy will Storm Dennis leave behind?
Last week’s postponements throw up a range of NHL-related questions and quandaries.
For instance, how different will the final standings look because so many games were deferred due to the weather? Teams struggling with injuries and college commitments may be better staffed when the games are re-fixed, leading in turn to a different set of results, a different set of league finalists . . .
This isn’t a matter of blaming the schedules. We’re simply pointing out that the proverbial act of God can tilt a season on its axis.
A side may welcome back a couple of fresh, uninjured players later in the spring and surf the energy they bring to a winning sequence of games right to the summer. Given how tight the provincial championships are - and the importance of an early win in same - then the importance of leaving the league in good heart, with positivity in the camp, can’t be overstated.
Don’t all shout at once, but clearly the reverse can also happen: a side can fall to a late defeat which causes them the question everything.
And all because of a squall forming out over the Atlantic. When you hear someone say there are no sure things in sport, this is what they have in mind.
How many points are needed for League success or survival?
So what are going to be the magic numbers in the Football League divisions this year?
By that we mean what is going to be enough to earn final spots and/or survival?
Four points has been enough to stay in Division 1 these last two years although the peloton looks so crowded the safe figure might jump to five, possibly six.
Ten points saw Mayo into the Division 1 final in second place last year but two years before, eight points and a better score difference sent Kerry into the decider. That low figure is likely to be repeated given the amount of points teams have already taken from each other and it’s worth pointing out just once since 2014 have the table-toppers won the Division 1 final (Dublin in 2016).
It’s more about survival in Division 2 and retaining full Sam Maguire Cup entitlements where in the past six points hasn’t been good enough to stay up. It may be the case once more and expect the head-to-head differential if not score difference to come into play.
In Division 3, Cork already look on their way to earning a qualifier spot should they lost their Munster semi-final to Kerry in late May but as for what number will be needed to join them in Division 2?
Longford do have five points but what’s needed for promotion could be as low as nine or, as it was the case in 2016 when Clare pipped Offaly and Longford on score difference, eight.