CORK have mixed experiences of scoring difference, having been edged out by Kildare and Clare in the hunt for division 2 promotion play-off games at the weekend.
All three finished level on four points in the south section, but Cork lagged in third on +5 compared to Kildare’s +14 and Clare’s +9.
All the damage was inflicted in the opening day defeat to Kildare, who raced into a nine-point lead entering the closing stages before Cork kicked the last five points to reduce the margin.
An eight-point victory over Laois got them back in the black, but still required a four-point success in Ennis to book one of the promotion places.
Kildare’s thumping win over Laois helped them leapfrog Clare to occupy number one slot on the table and play-off with Meath with the Banner taking on Mayo.
Cork encounter a Westmeath side, which lost all three games in division 2 north to Mayo, Meath and Down, but they only lost to the Ulster county by a point and had a scoring difference of just minus five at the end.
Three years ago Cork barely clung on to their division 2 status, finishing joint second from bottom along with Down.
But, Cork’s six-point triumph in the head-to-head provided them with a lifeline while they also had a better scoring difference of +6 to Down’s minus three.
Cork weren’t so fortunate the following season, again tied for second last position with Clare, who had accounted for the Rebels by nine points and also had a much better scoring difference of minus six compared to minus 21.
Cork’s biggest lead at any stage at Cusack Park was three points, on three occasions, all in the first-half, but the fact that the rivals were level on 10 different occasions showed how tight a game it proved to be.
And if Cork had managed to win by three, scoring difference would have been unable to separate the sides as they would have finished on +7 each, but Clare would still have held the advantage.
That’s because of their greater combined score of 56 over the three games with Cork on 54.
Cork will be glad of having no game this weekend after the exertions of playing in temperatures of over 20 degrees showed on players’ faces at the end.
It also gives the walking wounded an opportunity of a much-needed rest to try and recover in time for the Westmeath game the following weekend.
Having three games on successive weekends was a massive task on players given the amount of running and energy expended in the way the game is now played.
It’s particularly true for those in the middle eight-half-backs, midfielders and half-forwards-because they’re expected to defend and attack all the time.
For the likes of captain Ian Maguire, Ruairi Deane and Sean White in particular, the break is a chance to chill and re-charge the batteries after a hectic schedule.
Cork’s injury list stretched again after Daniel O’Mahony limped off inside 10 minutes and was followed later in the half by Ciaran Sheehan at the other end.
There was also the worrying sight of Sean Powter heading to the sideline, taking off his gloves with the look of someone who was fearing the worst.
Cork will keep their fingers crossed that it’s not hamstring trouble again and more to do with fatigue on very warm afternoon.
Brian Hurley’s sending-off for two quick yellow cards rules him out of the Westmeath game, but on the plus side the performance of Cathail O’Mahony, who had replaced Sheehan, certainly caught the eye.
The Mitchelstown scorer made an immediate impression, pointing with his first touch to kick-start a run of six Cork points without response.
O’Mahony added two more after Maguire caught the kick-out to set-up John O’Rourke for his second of four.
Luke Connolly’s effort from the outside of his right boot was a thing of beauty and the set was completed by White fisting a point off an upright after O’Mahony laid on the pass.
The result means last season’s delayed county senior A final between Mallow and Eire Og can now go ahead as planned on the 19th.