TIPPERARY, Kilkenny and Galway occupied all but one of the semi-final places in the Allianz Hurling League on Easter Sunday.
The last spot will be decided next weekend when Dublin face Limerick in the final of Division 1B for the right to challenge Tipperary for a place in the final.
Relegation from Division 1A will be decided by a play-off between Cork and Clare after the Rebels succumbed to Kilkenny in a two-point defeat at Nowlan Park. Relegation from Division 1B will be decided by a play-off between Antrim and Carlow.
Cork controlled the earlier exchanges to lead by four points [0-7 to 0-3] after 25 minutes. Kilkenny, however, missed a penalty in between four unanswered points before breaking at half-time all square with seven points.
The second-half began with an exchange of points before Luke Farrell’s goal gave Cork a 1-11 to 0-11 lead, before Kilkenny wrestled it back with another five unanswered points including a pointed penalty. The lead was stretched to four points in injury time when a goal for Cork proved only to be a consolation – any chance of a late turnaround extinguished by a point from captain Michael Fennelly ensuring his Kilkenny side’s passage to the final.
Tipperary consolidated their top of the table positioning with a straightforward 3-19 to 1-14 win over Clare in Thurles with thanks due, largely, to seasoned campaigners Eoin Kelly and Lar Corbett, while Galway disposed of Waterford for their place in the semis with a 0-15 to 0-12 on the back of a solid first-half display.
Dublin prepared for their Division 1B final with a 3-15 to 0-11 workout against Carlow, taking full advantage of the benefit of the wind with first-half goals from Kevin Byrne and Niall McMorrow giving them a four point lead. Carlow emerged battling in the second half but a second goal from McMorrow ended the contest before Dublin eased to a 13-point victory.
Limerick’s pre-final stretch wasn’t as leisurely, with a welll-earned draw at home against Wexford ending 1-19 to 2-16. Their 1-13 to 0-12 lead with 20 minutes remaining was overturned with two goals in three minutes from Garret Sinnott and Eoin Quigley bringing Wexford into injury time in the lead, caught only by the last strike of the game.
Antrim lost to Offaly 0-21 to 19 points in Belfast and now look forward to a Division 1B relegation play-off.
In Division 2A Kerry, Laois and Westmeath finished level at the top of the table, each with 8 points. Laois and Westmeath, however, can thank a better goal difference for their final encounter.
Fingal and Donegal will meet in the final of Division 3A, with relegation to be decided by Monaghan and Tyrone. The loser of that will be replaced next year by the winners of Division 3B’s promotion play-off between Sligo and Longford.
Galway 0-15 Waterford 0-12
Tipperary 3-19 Clare 1-14
Kilkenny 0-20 Cork 2-12
Dublin 3-15 Carlow 0-11
Wexford 2-16 Limerick 1-19
Offaly 0-21 Antrim 0-19
Kerry 1-13 Derry 1-12
Westmeath 1-22 Kildare 2-12
Laois 0-18 Wicklow 0-14
Division 2B: Down 1-22 Mayo 1-14
Meath 3-18 Armagh 1-10
London 2-17 Roscommon 2-10
Louth 5-11 Tyorne 0-15
Fingal 2-11 Donegal 1-09
Fermanagh 1-09 Monaghan 0-10
Longford 4-13 Sligo 1-04
Warwickshire 5-18 Leitrim 1-16