Division 1 status not yet in the bag

I have a bone to pick with Johnno. The Great One is going round shooting his mouth off to the media, viz. De Paper yesterday and the Mayo News today, to the effect that we have already secured our Division 1 status for next year. We haven’t, although we’re tantalisingly close to doing so, as we’ll see in a bit.

It should first be confirmed that any further points gained in our final two matches, against the Dubs and Tyrone, will take us over the line. Even a draw and a defeat would do. This puts us in the happy position of having our fate in our own hands.

Because the four counties – ourselves, Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone – chasing the three Division 1 paces on offer (Donegal have already secured their Division 1 berth for next year) play each other over the two remaining rounds (next Sunday, it’s us v the Dubs and Kerry v Tyrone, the following Sunday it’s Tyrone v us and Dublin v Kerry), the final placings will be directly impacted by how these clashes turn out. Things are complicated further by what’s happening as regards points difference – a crucial factor, as it will determine final placings if two or more counties end up with the same number of league points.

Currently, we’re second on 8 points (with a +9 points difference), Dublin are third on 6 points (+22), Kerry are fourth, also with 6 points (+5) and Tyrone are 5th, with 6 points too (-5). The immediate point that leaps out here is the enormously positive points difference enjoyed by the Dubs, arising from the hidings they gave to Cork and Fermanagh in their last two outings. This means that any county finishing level on league points with the Dubs is certain to finish behind them on points difference.

Okay, so what’s likely to happen?

Let’s, for starters, assume that we lose to the Dubs and Kerry beat Tyrone next Sunday. We’d then be level with Dublin and Kerry on 8 points, with an inferior points difference to the former but our relative position to the latter dependent on how badly we fared and how well they did in our respective outings. Continuing this example, if Kerry then beat Dublin in the final round, they claim the second playoff place with the Dubs finishing third, providing we lose to Tyrone (if we beat Tyrone, we’d finish third). However, even if we do lose to Tyrone (as well as the Dubs), we’re still likely to beat them to fourth place, unless they hammer us, as our points difference is significantly better than theirs.

Now, let’s assume that Tyrone beat Kerry while we’re losing to the Dubs, with Tyrone beating us in the final round as well. Our fate then hangs on the outcome of the Kerry/Dublin clash. If the Dubs win that one, we’re safe in fourth place, with Kerry losing out (hurrah!). However, if Kerry win, we end up level on league points with them but, unlike the earlier example with Tyrone, this time we’d be the ones likely to lose out on points difference and so finish fifth. This means that there is still a possibility that we could find ourselves in fifth place when the music stops on 8th April and it’s the reason why Johnno is incorrect to be claiming that we’re home and hosed as regards our Division 1 status for next year.

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