JUST as we did with the hurling last week, a look at the current standings in premier senior football has thrown up possible group repeats in the knock-out phase.
Almost certainly, however, the picture will change once the results start to stream in the weekend after next and it’s only then that we’ll be able to shape the quarter-finals.
Of course, the prize for being the best of the three group winners is a direct pass to the semi-finals and the holders Nemo Rangers are leading the chase once again.
They’re one of three section pacesetters with a maximum four points, but their scoring difference of +22 puts them three in front of St Finbarr’s, who in turn, are nine better off than Castlehaven.
The closing round of games on Sunday week is unlikely to present much change in those standings with the Barrs, the 2018 champions, facing the toughest challenge against Clonakilty, who are battling for a knock-out place along with Ballincollig.
On that basis accordingly, Nemo will be ranked 1, moving straight to the last-four, with the Barrs at 2 and the Haven next at 3.
There’s nothing straight forward about which clubs will fill the runners-up berths in the three groups.
Ballincollig are favourites in Group 1, having defeated Clon in the recent head-to-head and possessing a +4 scoring difference to the west Cork club’s -3.
In Group 2 Newcestown are currently second on two points along with Carbery Rangers, but enjoy a nine-point advantage in the scoring stakes, too.
Anyway, they meet in the final game in Ballinascarthy, where all the questions will be answered, one way or another.
Douglas occupy second in Group 3, but are unlikely to remain there after losing to Valley Rovers last time out.
The pair are on two points with the city club having a +2 scoring difference compared to Valleys’ -2, but you’d fancy the Innishannon club to leapfrog their rivals in the final standings.
So, on that basis our rankings are 1 Nemo, 2 Barrs, 3 Haven, 4 Newcestown, 5 Ballincollig, 6 Valley Rovers with Duhallow at 7.
The quarter-finals would then be Barrs v Ballincollig, Haven v Newcestown and Valleys v Duhallow.
The semi-finals would be Nemo against the Haven or Newcestown and Barrs-Ballincollig against Valleys or Duhallow.
The problem there is that the first two games would be repeat pairings, something the county board doesn’t want to happen if at all possible. Barrs-Ballincollig and Newcestown-Haven were already in the same groups.
Relegation is even more intriguing because the current occupants of the basement positions have no points and are only separated by just two points in the scoring difference.
Both Bishopstown and Ilen are -22, two points more than Carrigaline, as they face into challenging last-round games.
The Town take on Valleys, Ilen meet the Haven and Carrigaline engage Ballincollig.
You get the impression scoring difference will be the arbiter in separating them, adding even more intrigue to what’s shaping up to be another fascinating weekend.
All 26 games in the four grades are crammed into a hectic weekend with premier intermediate kick-starting matters at 4pm on the Saturday and followed by intermediate A at 6pm.