By Daragh Ó Conchúir
THE round-robin phase of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship draws to a close on Sunday with the fate of numerous teams still shrouded in doubt.
History is being made with one of the group games being streamed live for the first time.
Coverage of the Kilkenny-Galway clash at Nowlan Park will begin on the Camogie Association’s Facebook page from 2.15pm with the prize of top spot in Group 1 and a Semi-Final berth up for grabs.
While not quite as open as last year, when nine of the 10 competing teams were still in contention approaching this stage of proceedings, only three of the 11 participating this season have no chance of advancing to the last six.
With Limerick already having completed their programme and Meath playing host to Wexford, there is something at stake in four of Sunday’s five ties.
The Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Camogie Championships operate completely independently of the Provincial Championships, on a round-robin basis.
In the Senor Championship, group winners advance directly to the Semi-Finals, which will be played at 5.30pm and 7.15pm at Semple Stadium on August 18th.
The runners-up in each group will face off against the third-placed team in the other in two Quarter-Finals that will be held at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on August 4th, also at 5.30pm and 7.15pm.
All four games will be televised live on RTÉ Two.
If teams finish on the same points, their position will be determined by score difference. If that fails to separate them, the winner of the previous match between the teams takes precedence. If they have the same score difference and their game finished in a draw, a play-off will be required.
Given the lie of the land ahead of this weekend’s action, there is no possibility of a play-off being needed. So everyone will know where they stand on Sunday evening.
League champions Kilkenny welcome Galway to Nowlan Park. Both have claimed the scalps of Clare, Waterford and Limerick but the Cats have a seven-point advantage when it comes to score difference. That means a draw is sufficient for them to bag top spot and that Semi-Final place.
Galway need to win but both sides can play with freedom, assured of their places in the knockout stages. It will be interesting to see if they will be keen to lay down any kind of a marker however, with half an eye on the latter end of the campaign if they are to progress.
Waterford were the only team with nothing to play for this time 12 months ago but now, they are closing in on a historic Quarter-Final place.
Their two-point win over Limerick last Saturday was their first at this level. They travel to Cusack Park on Sunday to play a Clare side reeling from a 23-point loss to Kilkenny.
The Bannerwomen are bottom of the table after managing just a draw against Limerick but can still nab third by defeating Waterford. A draw will be enough for the Déise.
All-Ireland champions Cork have navigated their way to a 100 per cent record without any trouble and are virtually assured of the Semi-Final position. They would need to lose to Offaly by 31 points and Tipperary to beat Dublin by the same margin to be edged out on score difference.
They can expect a massive test however as if Offaly can cause a surprise, Mike Wall’s crew will make it through unless Tipperary and Dublin draw, in which case Tipp would take second from the Dubs with an 11-point superior score difference.
If either Tipperary or Dublin win at Parnell Park and Offaly take the honours in Páirc Uí Rinn, the Faithful would have a better score difference than either of the losing teams to take third.
If Cork beat Offaly, both Tipp and Dublin are assured of qualification, with only their finishing position and their potential Quarter-Final match-ups up for decision – but they won’t know that at the time!
FIXTURES: Saturday July 21st
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Group 2
Antrim v Kildare, Tír na nÓg GAA, Randalstown @ 5pm
Galway v Westmeath, Duggan Park, Ballinasloe @ 5pm
Kilkenny v Tipperary, John Locke's GAA, Callan @ 5pm
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship Group 1
Kerry v Limerick, Abbeydorney GAA @ 5pm
Offaly v Clare, Drumcullen GAA, Rath @ 5pm
Sunday July 22nd
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 1
Clare v Waterford, Cusack Park, Ennis @ 2.30pm
Kilkenny v Galway, Nowlan Park @ 2.30pm
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2
Cork v Offaly, Páirc Uí Rinn @ 2.30pm
Dublin v Tipperary, Parnell Park @ 2.30pm
Wexford v Meath, St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy @ 2.30pm
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship Group 2
Roscommon v Dublin, St. Dominic's GAA @ 4pm