Analysing the Cork forwards' scoring returns in the league

Analysing the Cork forwards' scoring returns in the league

Paul Kerrigan gets off his pass from Louth's Dan Corcoran last weekend. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK’S 5-19 in the victory over Louth last weekend was the highest recorded in any of the four divisions in the entire league campaign.

It was one point more than the 2-27 registered by Antrim against Limerick in the fourth division back on March 1.

It’s the same Antrim side, which leaked 7-11 to new table-toppers Wicklow at the weekend, highlighting just how unpredictable everything is in these very strange times.

Not surprisingly, Cork’s tally of 12-96 after six rounds of games is the most accumulated by any county and their scoring difference of +42 is also top of the charts, six better than Wicklow.

What’s more praise-worthy about Cork’s performance and the impressive return on the scoreboard was that it was achieved without the team’s leading scorers. Between them, Cathail O’Mahony, Luke Connolly and John O’Rourke have contributed 4-36 to the eye-catching total, but none of them were involved against Louth.

Cork still managed to supply 10 different scorers with Mark Collins, who came off the bench for his seasonal debut in the competition, heading the list with 1-5.

Paul Kerrigan chipped in with 2-1 and captain Ian Maguire and Colm O’Callaghan bagged the other goals while there were impressive scoring contributions from Killian O’Hanlon, Paul Walsh and Kevin O’Donovan.

In all, 24 players have contributed to Cork’s total, ranging from O’Mahony at the head of affairs on 0-18 to a cluster of five who’ve registered a point each.

And when you factor in a player of Brian Hurley’s ability in front of the posts who has yet to play in the league, it’s little wonder that Cork’s attack is rich in scoring potential.

But, deciding on what sextet to start with and what six forwards are left on the pitch at the final whistle is one of the many conundrums facing Ronan McCarthy and his management team.

Eoghan McSweeney on the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Eoghan McSweeney on the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The modern tendency is to try and complete a game with as strong, if not stronger, combinations than at the throw-in, but it’s a delicate balancing act, not taking on board matters like injuries, form or cards.

Of course, it all has to be placed in context, too, because with all due respects to Louth, what’s coming down the tracks in the shape of Kerry will be worlds away from what Cork have been accustomed in this protracted league season.

What Cork’s record of six wins from as many games, together with their high scoring returns, has shown is that they shouldn’t be in Division 3 in the first place.

Granted, it’s only been for one season and they make an immediate return to the second tier in 2021, all things being equal, though there’s no guarantee of anything these days.

Cork were due to face a stiffer test from Longford on their travels on Sunday in the concluding league game, but they've now offered a walkover. And it’s still miles off what the Kerry challenge will bring down the Park on Sunday fortnight.

Still, there’s very little Cork can do only prepare as diligently as they can for what opposition lines up in front of them.

What’s probably more pressing on the minds of the management is the concession of 0-16 to a Louth attack, which relied heavily on the free-taking of full-forward Sam Mulroy for their scores.

On average, Cork conceded 0-15 per outing with Tipperary posting 0-21 and Derry 3-11, leaving the composition of the defence as intriguing as the attack for Kerry’s visit.

Cork’s scorers in the league to-date:

1. Cathail O’Mahony (Mitchelstown) 0-18 (0-10 f).

2. Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers) 2-10 (1-0 pen, 0-5 f, 0-2 mark).

3. John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) 2-8.

4. Damien Gore (Kilmacabea) 1-8 (0-2 f).

5. Ciaran Sheehan (Éire Óg) 1-7 (0-2 f).

6. Paul Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers) 2-2, Mark Collins (Castlehaven) 1-5 (0-4 f).

7. Michael Hurley (Castlehaven) 0-6 (0-1 f).

8. Ruairí Deane (Bantry Blues), I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), Colm O’Callaghan (Éire Óg) 1-2 each.

9. Killian O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) 0-4 (0-1 f).

10. Sean White (Clonakilty), Tadhg Corkery (Cill na Matra) 0-3 each.

11. Brian Hartnett (Douglas), Eoghan McSweeney (Knocknagree), Kevin O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), Paul Walsh, Tomas Clancy (Fermoy) 0-2 each.

12. Kevin Crowley (Millstreet), Liam O’Donovan (Clonakilty), Sean Powter (Douglas), Mattie Taylor (Mallow), Cian Kiely (Ballincollig) 0-1 each.

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