CORK must overcome Westmeath at home in their relegation play-off the weekend after next to secure their Division 2 status for 2022.
Despite edging Clare by 0-22 to 1-18 in a thrilling concluding game in the south section at Cusack Park yesterday, Cork missed out on a crack at the promotion play-off.
They finished level with Clare and Kildare on four points apiece, but Cork lost out on scoring difference, having needed to win by four in Ennis. It now means Clare take on Mayo and Kildare meeting neighbours Meath to determine who will be playing Division 1 next year.
The good news for Cork is that they will be at home for the first and only time to Westmeath, who finished bottom of the north section after losing their third game to Down yesterday.
Croke Park are to announce fixtures later today, but Páirc Uí Chaoimh is set to be confirmed as the venue with the game listed for either Saturday or Sunday week. The winner will stay up and the loser will drop to Division 3.
Manager Ronan McCarthy didn't appear downcast in his briefing after the game.
“I personally don't believe there's any deflation. Ultimately, we could have lost the game here and still be involved in the relegation play-off,” he said.
“After any game, you look at whether the spirit is right and it is.”
Injuries to Sean Powter, Daniel O'Mahony and Ciaran Sheehan, as well as the dismissal of Brian Hurley for two yellow cards, took further gloss from the result.
“I haven't spoken to the medical team in any detail yet, but I understand it was fatigue in Sean's case. There was a lot of exertion out there and the medical team will be busy this week.”
McCarthy was delighted with the way Cork's forwards managed to post an impressive tally of 22 points, all bar four coming from open play.
Young substitute Cathail O'Mahony came off the bench to top score with five, followed by Luke Connolly and John O'Rourke on four each.
“We had 74 percent efficiency at half-time which was good, but I'm not so sure what the figure is for the second half.
“We put up a very good score against a team that often had 15 players behind their 45 and that is pleasing.
“I thought we played some really good stuff in the second quarter.”
The only goal was decisive, arriving in the eighth minute when the outstanding David Tubridy tucked away a penalty after he was fouled by Daniel O'Mahony, who was yellow carded.
Despite being pegged back, Cork still led by 0-12 to 1-8 at the interval and it was nip and tuck right to the final whistle.
Cork will be missing the suspended Hurley for the Westmeath game, but Brian Hartnett returns from his two-game ban after he was sent off in the opening game against Kildare.
Liam O'Donovan from Clonakilty also made a welcome return to the panel yesterday as an unused substitute.