Clare hurlers remain pointless in Division 1A

A bloodied Padraic Maher (left) and Conor O'Brien celebrated Tipp's win in Ennis
A bloodied Padraic Maher (left) and Conor O'Brien celebrated Tipp's win in Ennis

The 2013 All-Ireland title holders, Clare remain pointless and rooted to the foot of Division1A of the Allianz hurling league.

After this weekend's results it looks increasingly likely that Davy Fitzgerald's side and All-Ireland title holders Kilkenny - whose weakened team were beaten in Galway - will end up in the relegation final.

The two sides are due to meet in the final round of the competition but unless they both experience a big change in fortune it's difficult to see how they will avoid the relegation final - with the losers dropping into Division 1B next season.

Clare face Dublin in a must-win contest in Ennis next Saturday afternoon while Kilkenny travel to Semple Stadium for a re-match of the All-Ireland final against Tipp.

Even though Clare have been under-strength due to the involvement of many of their players in the Fitzgibbon Cup tournament, there is a growing sense that the team is sliding towards a crisis.

Apart from a victory over Tipp in the Waterford Crystal League they haven't won a competitive match since defeating Laois in the quarter-final of the League eleven months ago.

They lost to Tipp in the League semi-final; to Cork and Wexford - after a replay - in the championship and have now lost three games on the spin in the League and were also beaten by Cork in the Waterford Crystal Cup.

This latest setback - against arch rivals and next-door neighbours Tipperary will hurt their pride and annoy the fans.

In truth, though, they were always struggling against the beaten All-Ireland finalists who have recovered well since their first round mauling by Dublin.

Goals win matches and a brace from Noel McGrath and a second deep in the final quarter from James Woodlock - brilliantly set up by Seamus Callinan - when the game was in the melting pot decided the issue.

Galway struggled to overcome an under-strength Kilkenny side who also lost top scorer Richie Hogan to an injury 12 minutes from the end.

But Anthony Cunningham's side eventually prevailed by two points in a goalless affair.

Joe Canning came off the bench early in the second half for his seasonal debut and hit four points while Jason Flynn chipped in with 0-11.

But in a hectic finish it took a brilliant double save from Colm Callinan to deny Jojo Farrell what almost certainly would have been the winning goal.

Galway and Tipperary now join Cork and Dublin at the top of Division 1A on four points with two rounds remaining; Kilkenny have two and Clare have yet to get off the mark.

In the big game in Division 1B Limerick fashioned a highly significant win over Wexford at Wexford Park to keep pace with Waterford at the top of the table.

In a rip-roaring encounter which produced seven goals and 41 scores in total the visitors prevailed by a point.

It now looks like it will be a two-horse race between the Munster sides for the promotion spot available and it will probably come down to scoring difference in the end.

Allianz HL Division 1A
Galway 0-20 Kilkenny 0-18
Clare 0-20 Tipperary 2-19

Allianz HL Division 1B
Wexford 3-18 Limerick 4-16
Antrim 1-14 Laois 1-18

Allianz HL Division 2A
Derry 1-13 Carlow 1-15
Wicklow 2-12 London 3-12
Kerry 0-12 Westmeath 3-18

Allianz HL Division 2B
Mayo 0-15 Down 2-20

Allianz HL Division 3A
Fingal 1-11 Roscommon 3-24
Louth 2-13 Monaghan 2-18
Fermanagh 2-8 Tyrone 4-14

Allianz HL Division 3B
Leitrim 0-10 Longford 1-17

(First named team had home venue)