IT’S the turn of the Cork footballers to sample the new advantage rule in their opening Division 2 south league game against Kildare in Thurles tomorrow at 3.30pm.
Last week they played All-Ireland champions Dublin in a challenge game in Kilkenny, losing by just a point, 2-18 to 2-17, with experienced referee Maurice Deegan in charge.
And as it so happens he is also the man with the whistle in Semple Stadium tomorrow.
Selector Sean Hayes outlined that Deegan went through the rules before the game.
“A lot of it is going to be up to referees’ interpretation. They can give the advantage if there is green grass in front of you and likely to score a goal,” he said.
“Now, they’re saying that your free is your advantage. Let’s see what happens. I hope it does work out, but we have to wait and see.
“It worked ok in the Dublin game because there was nobody giving out about it, but there could be a grey area which will pose problems,” Hayes added.
Cork were happy with the game though Dublin weren’t at full strength because they had another game against Monaghan the same day, but they had some of their stars playing.
“It was a very fast game and a great workout for us.
"No matter what 15 Dublin players you’re going to come up against, they are going to be good anyway. I wouldn’t mind having some of their weak fellows.
"We needed something to try and get up to the pace of games. It was more about the exercise rather than the result because we both used our benches.”
Cork and Kildare are the fancies to emerge from a section including Clare and Laois to contest the promotion play-off with Hayes emphasising the importance of tomorrow’s game.
“If you don’t win your first match you’re putting yourself under pressure, so you have to take each game as it comes. Kildare are first up and we want to win that game.”
Returning to Division 1 is a prerequisite for Cork football, but they’ve got to earn the right to join the leading counties at the top table.
“Everyone is thinking of winning the All-Ireland first and foremost.
That’s our goal and that’s what you will be remembered for.
“Our goal is also to get to division 1 because Cork have to be playing in that division if they want to get back to where they belong.
“It goes without saying that the young fellows in the side need to be playing in Division 1.”
Inconsistency has been a stain on Cork football since time began, exemplified by defeating Kerry in last season’s Munster semi-final and then losing to Tipperary in the final.
“Are you marked on consistency or on results?" Hayes enquired. “If you play brilliantly and lose are you remembered any differently from winning?
“Consistency should be part of our progress in the four league games and hopefully a fifth as well as in the championship, but winning is the most important thing.”
And Hayes echoed the sentiments of all by looking forward to the day soon when supporters will be allowed back to attend games.
“Cork football doesn’t have a huge support. When we got to the Super 8s two years ago, we lost to Kerry in the Munster final, but around 300 stayed around to applaud the players off the pitch.
And the restrictions are also impacting on the players, who now head into a second season without things they’d taken for granted.
“The social element is an important part of football and the friendships made, the togetherness and all that kind of stuff.
“It was very fragmented last year and it’s the same now. There are no dressing rooms and once training is over fellows go their separate ways.
“The sooner we all get back to some kind of normality the better."