The shape of this year's All-Ireland SHC will take a significant turn this coming weekend when the six counties from the Munster and Leinster championships to advance to the knock-out stages will be finalised.
Eight of the ten counties competing in the two provincial championships have a lot of play for in the final series of 'round robin' games, with only Carlow and Waterford out of contention.
Both have lost all four games, leaving Carlow facing a return to the Joe McDonagh Cup next season.
The line-up is as follows:
Leinster: Wexford v Kilkenny, Innovate Wexford Park, 7.0; Dublin v Galway, Parnell Park, 7.0
Joe McDonagh Cup: Kerry v Offaly, Austin Stack Park, 3.0; Laois v Westmeath, Portlaoise, 3.0
Munster: Tipperary v Limerick, Semple Stadium, 2.0; Clare v Cork, Ennis 2.0
DUBLIN V GALWAY
Galway lead the table on five points, one ahead of Kilkenny and Wexford and two ahead of Dublin. A draw or a win would book Galway a place in the Leinster final.
If Dublin win and Wexford and Kilkenny draw, all four teams will be on five points, in which case the placings would be based on scoring difference. In that event, Galway would be eliminated from the All-Ireland race as the other three have higher scoring differences.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS
2018: Galway 0-26 Dublin 2-19 (Leinster 'round robin')
2017: Galway 2-28 Dublin 1-17 (Leinster quarter-final)
2015: Galway 5-19 Dublin 1-18 (Leinster quarter-final) Replay
2015: Dublin 0-20 Galway 1-17 (Leinster quarter-final)
2013: Dublin 2-25 Galway 2-13 (Leinster final)
*Galway beat Dublin by 0-20 to 1-11 in this year's Allianz League in Pearse Stadium.
*Dublin's last win over Galway in the championship was in the 2013 Leinster final.
*This will be only the tenth championship match between the counties, with Dublin leading 5-3 while there was one draw in the previous nine.
**Top scorers for both counties after three rounds are as follows
Dublin: Paul Ryan 0-20 (0-12 frees, 0-1'65'); Sean Moran 2-4 (1-2 pens, 1-1 frees), Eamonn Dillon 2-3.
Galway: Cathal Mannion 0-12 (0-1 free); Jason Flynn 0-12 (0-5 frees, 0-1 '65'); Conor Whelan 1-9.
Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship
P W D L F A Diff Points
Galway 3 2 1 0 72 65 7 5
Kilkenny 3 2 0 1 88 70 18 4
Wexford 3 1 2 0 75 60 15 4
Dublin 3 1 1 1 77 70 7 3
Carlow 4 0 0 4 73 120 -47 0
1: Wexford and Dublin win: Wexford (6 points) and Dublin (5 points) contest the Leinster SHC Final. Galway also finish on five points but lose out to Dublin on the head-to-head rule and so progress to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-finals.
2: Kilkenny and Galway win: Galway (7 points) and Kilkenny (6 points) contest the Leinster SHC Final. Wexford (4 points) advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final.
3: Wexford and Galway win: Galway (7 points) and Wexford (6 points) contest the Leinster SHC Final. Kilkenny (4 points) advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final.
4: Kilkenny and Dublin win: Kilkenny (6 points) and Dublin (5 points) contest the Leinster SHC Final. Galway also finish on five points but lose out to Dublin on the head-to-head rule and so advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final.
5: Wexford win and Galway and Dublin draw: Wexford (6 points) and Galway (6 points) contest the Leinster SHC Final. Kilkenny and Dublin both finish on four points each but Kilkenny advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final on the head-to-head rule.
6: Kilkenny win and Galway and Dublin draw: Kilkenny (6 points) and Galway (6 points) contest the Leinster SHC Final. Wexford and Dublin would both finish on 4 points and would be separated by scoring difference as their own match earlier in the Leinster SHC finished in a draw. Currently Wexford’s scoring advantage is +15 while Dublin’s is +7. So unless Dublin make up that eight-point scoring differential on Round 5, Wexford would advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final.
7: Galway win and Kilkenny and Wexford draw: Galway (7 points) and Kilkenny (5 points) would contest the Leinster SHC Final. Wexford would also finish on five points but would be ranked lower than Kilkenny in the table on scoring difference and so would advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final. Kilkenny’s scoring difference is currently +18 while Wexford’s is +15 and that would be unchanged in a draw scenario.
8: Dublin win and Kilkenny and Wexford draw: All four teams would finish level on five points each and so would be separated by scoring difference. In this scenario Galway (currently +7 scoring difference would lose out as they would definitely have the worst scoring difference of all four teams. The only question then would be whether Dublin could improve their current +7 scoring difference sufficiently to leapfrog Wexford’s +15 (which would remain unchanged by a draw with Kilkenny). So, unless Dublin beat Galway by eight points or more, Kilkenny and Wexford would contest the Leinster SHC Final and Dublin would advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final.
9: Dublin and Galway draw & Wexford and Kilkenny draw: Galway (6 points) and Kilkenny (5 points) would contest the Leinster SHC Final. Wexford would also finish on five points but an inferior scoring difference to Kilkenny’s means they would advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final.
WEXFORD v KILKENNY
Both are on four points, a point behind Galway and a point ahead of Dublin. The Wex ford- Kilkenny winners will be guaranteed a place in the Leinster final. If it's a draw, much will depend on the result in the Galway-Dublin game.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS
2018: Kilkenny O-22 Wexford 1-18 (Leinster 'round robin')
2017: Wexford 1-20 Kilkenny 3-11 (Leinster semi-final)
2015: Kilkenny 5-25 Wexford 0-16 (Leinster semi-final)
2011: Kilkenny 1-26 Wexford 1-15 (Leinster semi-final)
2008: Kilkenny 5-21 Wexford 0-17 (Leinster final)
*Kilkenny and Wexford have met 13 times in the championship since Brian Cody took over as Cats' boss in late 1998. It's 11-2 to Kilkenny in those games, with Wexford's only successes coming in the 2004 and 2017 Leinster semi-finals.
*Wexford beat Kilkenny by 1-19 to 1-12 in this year's Allianz League.
*Wexford have scored only five goals against Kilkenny in their last seven champion ships meetings. Kilkenny scored 16 goals in those games.
*Top scorers for both teams after three rounds are as follows:
Wexford: Lee Chin 0-29 (0-21 frees, 0-4 '65s'); Conor McDonald 1-8 (0-2 sidelines); Rory O'Connor 2-3. Kilkenny: TJ Reid 5-35 (0-25 frees, 2-0 pens, 0-3 '65s'); Ger Aylward 1-3; Austin Murphy 0-6.
TIPPERARY V LIMERICK
Tipperary (6 points) are guaranteed to remain in the All-Ireland race, irrespective of the result, and are also well-placed to book a place in the Munster final. A win or draw against Limerick would take them into the final and, even if they lose, they are still in with a great chance of getting there.
They have a scoring difference of +38 points. Cork and Limerick are both on four points with a scoring difference of +13 and +31 respectively. If Limerick and Cork win, they will join Tipperary on six points, with placings decided on scoring difference,
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS
2018: Limerick 1-23 Tipperary 2-14 (Munster 'round robin)
2016: Tipperary 3-12 Limerick 1-16 (Munster semi-final)
2015: Tipperary 4-23 Limerick 1-16 (Munster semi-final)
2014: Limerick 2-18 Tipperary 2-16 (Munster semi-final)
2013: Limerick 1-18 Tipperary 1-15 (Munster semi-final)
*They have met 69 times in the championship (67 in Munster, one in the All-Ireland semi-final (2009) and one in the All-Ireland qualifiers (2004) with the results standing as follows: Tipperary 35 wins; Limerick 24 wins; Draws 10.
* This will be the 17h championship clash between the counties in the new Millennium with Tipperary having won nine times (2016-2015-2012-2009-2006-
*Limerick beat Tipperary by 1-21 to 1-14 in this year's Allianz League in the LIT Gaelic Grounds
*Top scorers for both teams after three rounds are as follows: Tipperary: Jason Forde 1-20 (0-12 frees, O-1 sideline); Seamus Callanan 3-7; John McGrath 1-12
Limerick: Aaron Gillane 2-24 (0-19 frees, 0-1'65'); Graeme Mulcahy 1-6; Shane Dowling 0-8 (0-6 frees).
CORK v CLARE
Cork are on four points, two ahead of Clare. The Rebels are well placed to stay in the All-Ireland race, which they will achieve if they win or draw. If Cork win and Limerick draw or lose against Tipperary, John Meyler's men will book a place in the Munster fi nal.
Clare still have a chance of staying in the All-Ireland stages. If Limerick draw or win against Tipperary and Clare beat Cork, the Banner will fill third place on the head-to head rule.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP CLASHES
2018: Cork 2-24 Clare 3-19 (Munster final)
2018: Cork 2-23 Clare 1-21 (Munster 'round robin')
2017: Cork 1-25 Clare 1-20 (Munster final)
2015: Cork 0-20 Clare 0-17 (All-Ireland qualifier) 2014: Cork 2-23 Clare 2-18 (Munster semi-final) *This will be the 57th championship meeting between the counties, with Cork leading 39-12 in wins while there have been five draws in the previous 56.
ALL-IRELAND & PROVINCIAL GAA HURLING CHAMPIONSHIPS 2019
Round 1 May 11: Kilkenny 2-23 Dublin 1-21, Nowlan Park. May 12: Galway 1-24 Carlow 1-18, Pearse Stadium Round 2
May 18: Kilkenny 3-22 Carlow 1-14, Netwatch Cullen Park; Dublin 1-22 Wexford 2-19, Parnell Park,
Round 3 May 26: Galway 0-16 Wexford 0-16, Pearse Stadium. June 1: Dublin 2-22 Carlow 1-13, Netwatch Cullen Park.
June 8: Wexford 2-28 Carlow 0-19, Innovate Wexford Park. June 9: Galway 3-20 Kilkenny 2-22, Nowlan Park
June 15: Dublin v Galway, Parnell Park; Wexford v Kilkenny, Innovate Wexford Park.
June 30: Final
May 12: Clare 1-20 Waterford 0-22, Walsh Park; Tipperary 2-28 Cork 1-24, Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
May 19: Cork 1-26 Limerick 1-19, LIT Gaelic Grounds; Tipperary 2-30 Waterford 0-18, Semple Stadium.
June 2: Limerick 2-24 Waterford 0-10, Walsh Park; Tipperary 3-21 Waterford 0-17, En nis.
June 8: Cork 2-30 Waterford 2-17, Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
June 9: Limerick 1-28 Clare 0-13, LIT Gaelic Grounds
Round 5 June 16: Clare v Cork, Ennis; Tipperary v Limerick, Semple Stadium June 30: Final
July 6/7: Preliminary quarter-finals July 13/14: All-Ireland quarter-finals July 27/28: All-Ireland semi-finals, Croke Park. August 18: Final, Croke Park.
JOE MCDONAGH CUP
May 11: Laois 4-22 Offaly 3-21; Antrim 3-19 Kerry 0-14
May 18: Laois 2-24 Antrim 1-19; Westmeath 3-18 Offaly 0-14
May 25: Kerry 1-21 Westmeath 2-16
June 1: Antrim 3-23 Offaly 4-18
June 8: Westmeath 0-29 Antrim 0-21; Laois 5-17 Kerry 1-21.
June 15: Laois v Westmeath; Kerry v Offaly Final: June 30, Croke Park