THE importance of scoring difference in deciding quarter-final pairings in the county championships was again highlighted in Group A of the PIFC.
It was always going to be the case in the so-called Group of Death containing Cill na Martra, Iveleary and Nemo Rangers second string, leaving St Vincent’s on a hiding to nothing.
Nemo’s opening day win over Cill na Martra, whose subsequent victory over Iveleary on day two meant everything was on the line last Sunday, especially in Bandon, where Nemo faced Iveleary.
The Muskerry side had to win and with a bit to spare as well in the expectation their Gaeltacht neighbours would overcome St Vincent’s.
However, few anticipated Iveleary posting 4-11 and restricting their city rivals to just 0-5 in shooting to the top of the pile well ahead of Cill na Martra, who denied the Saints by 2-12 to 1-5.
All three teams finished on four points, but, when the dust cleared, Iveleary’s +25 scoring difference was too good for Cill na Martra’s +16 with Nemo slipping to minus three.
Iveleary, last year’s intermediate A champions, have accumulated a whopping 8-37 in their three outings.
And when you factor in Chris Og Jones not playing in the opening couple of games, it shows the breadth of scoring talent in the side.
He was back on track again, Jones helping himself to a hat-trick against Nemo, part of his eye-catching 3-2 haul.
It was Iveleary’s second hat-trick of the competition after Conor O’Leary set the standard against Vincent’s and that’s not ignoring Cathal Vaughan’s 0-20 either, half from frees.
Cill na Martra also have a potent attack, compiling 5-41 to-date, though one name stands out, full-forward Micheal O Deasuna, who has amassed a huge tally of 3-17.
His 2-5 against Vincent’s represented O Deasuna’s biggest yield, adding to his 1-6 against Iveleary and 0-6 in the loss to Nemo with two of his three goals coming from penalties.
The other two groups had predictable enough table toppers in Bantry Blues in Group B and Kanturk in Group C, leaving the runners-up spots up for grabs.
Bantry completed a perfect record of three wins from as many games, but Na Piarsaigh pushed them all the way before going down fighting by 2-10 to 0-13.
The west Cork side certainly have an eye for goals, bringing their tally to seven so-far though they just about break into double figures in scoring points with Arthur Coakley leading the way on 1-11.
Bantry had already qualified and now grabbed a semi-final berth, leaving Aghada and Castletownbere, meeting for the third successive season, to battle it out for the quarter-finals.
The east Cork side prevailed, winning by 0-12 to 1-8 to finish on four points, two ahead of the fishing port club.
Fintan Cody’s 2-7 makes him Aghada’s leading scoring going into the play-offs with the defence having conceded only 1-13 in the last two appearances.
Kanturk also enjoyed a 100% record in their section, just squeezing past Macroom by 1-12 to 1-11 though captain Aidan Walsh picked up an injury near the end.
The Duhallow side also know where the posts are positioned, reflected in their 8-42 so far, with the Walsh clan dominating the scoring charts.
Brothers Ian (0-15), Colin (0-12) and Alan (3-2) underline the scoring threat up top while a fourth sibling, Ryan, has 2-4 to his name.
Macroom’s narrow defeat paved the way for Rockchapel to leap-frog them into second place after defeating Naomh Aban by 1-11 to 0-7 to finish on four points.
The Rock aren’t the most prolific of scorers though Mickey McAulliffe’s four-goal haul against Kanturk remains the stand-out individual contribution and he added 1-3 against Ballyvourney.
The results produced quarter-finals featuring Cill na Martra against Aghada in Ballincollig on Saturday week at 3.30 with Iveleary taking on Rockchapel in Banteer the following day at 3pm.
In the semi-finals, Bantry await either Iveleary or the Rock with Kanturk keeping tabs on Cill na Martra-Aghada.
The relegation play-off is between St Vincent’s and Naomh Aban in Cloughduv on Saturday week at 4pm.
The bookies make Kanturk the 6/4 favourites with 15/8 Cill na Martra and Iveleary 5/2 followed by 7/1 Bantry, 12/1 Rockchapel and 20/1 Aghada.
Meanwhile, Cork have two nominations in the All-Stars. Sean Powter (Douglas) and Steven Sherlock (St Finbarr's) are among the 45-strong shortlist for a team, which will be announced at the end of next month.