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A golden age dawns for that GAA permutations lover in your life – The Irish Times

If you were a hurling fan and had a couple of minutes to spare this week, then a look at the various permutations in the Leinster and Munster senior hurling championships would have passed the time quite nicely.

Tipp are out, Kilkenny will be in the top three, Carlow and Antrim will have their only other rival to avoid relegation directly in front of them at 2pm on Sunday. After that, there are a host of scenarios in play, each one, it seems, more complicated than the last.

But I think it’s important to note at this stage that, strictly speaking, this is not nuclear physics. There is a way of thinking that says it is impossible to understand such things and therefore there is no point in even trying. RTÉ television had plenty of problems in the final round of group stage football last year – when Galway’s Shane Walsh and Westmeath’s John Heslin were lining up last-minute frees almost simultaneously, with the entire fate of Group 2 up in the air , we are left to figure it out ourselves.

This week has been moderately challenging, but it’s also not exactly about trying to work out how many fights an Irish boxer has to win in an Olympic qualifying event to get to Paris.

There’s an easy answer to all this, and this parish’s Malachy Clerkin is happy to give it to RTÉ for free: they simply need to hire a 13-year-old, for whom such calculations are exactly the sort of minutiae they dwell on. delight Those of us who now work in sports journalism or television still emotionally have that 13-year-old child, but with greatly reduced brain function due to old age and/or decrepitude.

So this week has been moderately challenging, but it’s also not exactly trying to work out how many fights an Irish boxer has to win in an Olympic qualifying event to get to Paris. (Those boxing events generally tend to be the most labyrinthine; other sporting events can be just as dependent on continental quota distributions, host country venues, and those pesky Universality venues, but I haven’t seen them yet.)

It’s interesting to what extent the players and management should get caught up in this. There is a line of thinking that suggests that players should be kept in the dark as much as possible. Don’t cloud your thinking with negative suggestions, such as what needs to happen if you lose to continue progressing; Maintain a positive attitude and control the controllable. In this case the only thing controllable is the final result.

I am sure that the Mayo players were aware the week before their last game against Cork that a victory or a draw would allow them to qualify as group winners. But should they have known that a Cork win by three points or more would see them lose the preliminary quarter-final at home? Possibly not… and maybe it also smacks of panic to start informing them with two minutes left, after having seen a six-point lead destroyed, that not only were their chances of winning the group evaporating into thin air, but that that they were going to finish third if they didn’t shake it off.

Players may crave clarity, but life is frustratingly short on clarity and so are the league tables where three teams of four (or five, or six, in the case of this weekend’s hurling) can qualify. The GAA’s almost pathological aversion to “dead rubber” has ensured that it is a golden age for the lover of permutations in his life.

What do you do for a living? You touch it over the bar and secure the tie which secures Limerick’s progress and Cork are out of the championship.

I received a text message this week from a fellow group table reader, who presented me with two separate but connected scenarios. On stage one, Limerick, fresh from their defeat to Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, ears still ringing from the words of pundits loudly proclaiming Cork the likely All-Ireland winners, if they can get out of this group of the Munster championship, they receive a penalty. with the last puck of the game against Waterford. They are one point less.

What do you do for a living? You touch it over the bar and secure the tie which secures Limerick’s progress and Cork are out of the championship. I think we can all agree that that would be the correct course of action…after all, if the penalty was saved then Limerick would be out of the championship entirely. It’s a risk not worth taking.

Scenario two: It is a tied game when Limerick wins a 65 which will be the last puck of the game. A draw suits them and also their direct opponent Waterford. A draw also eliminates their now arch-rivals Cork. What do you do for a living? I mentioned this possibility to a Cork acquaintance and he told me that Limerick would probably do the right thing and make sure the ball went over the backline and not the sideline, but that it would still be a short-yardage thing. . .

This is all a joke, of course, and we are often more surprised than we should be when teams respect the integrity of the competition in which they play, as Waterford memorably did in the final round of playoff matches. of groups. last year.

Cork are no longer masters of their destiny, but for all the teams in action this week the easiest permutation to remember is that a win gets them through. No one will be eliminated this weekend if they win their own match. Surely that’s not too complicated. After that, Galway and Dublin have to watch out for a draw and everyone else staying at home can relax and enjoy the trip.

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