Twenty teams set out in the Clare Senior Hurling Championship this year and heading into round three in the group stages next week, just half of that number remain in the running for the Canon Hamilton Trophy.
For the remaining 10, however, there is a lot more at stake than in previous years. Heretofore, one team was relegated at the end of the campaign but, this year, five teams will loss their senior status and drop to intermediate for 2015.
One of those to be relegated is already known. Ruan, as the bottom team in their group in the Senior B Championship, will be competing at intermediate level next year.
The losers of next week’s match between Scariff and St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield will join them. In the event that game ends in a draw, St Joseph’s will make the drop, as they are pointless at this stage, whereas Scariff have one point from their draw with Broadford.
The remaining three teams to make the drop will be decided by a series of play-offs.
The bottom team in each of the three groups that make up the A championship, Clooney-Quin, the losers of the game between Tubber and Tulla and the losers of the match between Sixmilebridge and Kilmaley, will be in one pool.
The other pool will comprise the teams that finish second and third in the two senior B groups. These are Wolfe Tones and Whitegate, the losers of the game between O’Callaghan’s Mills and Broadford and the winners of the match between Scariff and St Joseph’s.
Once the final positions in the groups are determined, a draw will take place between the two third-placed teams to determine a bye in the first round of games. The remaining three teams in the B competition will then be drawn against the three teams from the A groups and the winners of these three games will retain their senior status for 2014.
A draw will then take place involving the three losers from the above games. The team that received the bye and the losers of the two matches that ensue will be relegated.
The two winners of that game will then play-off, with the losers completing the list of five teams to be relegated.
The 15 remaining senior teams, together with the intermediate champions of this year, will make up the senior championship for 2015.
That competition will be run on the same format as the current senior football championship.