Multitude of possibilities ahead of last set of Munster SHC games

Cork could qualify for Munster final with a draw or finish in third place with a win
Multitude of possibilities ahead of last set of Munster SHC games

Cork's Ger Millerick challenges Tony Kelly of Clare in Sunday's Munster SHC game at Cusack Park. Picture: Inpho/Evan Treacy

Cork’s Munster SHC games against both Tipperary and Clare followed a similar pattern.

Leading by four points early on, the Rebels then struggled and fell four behind against Tipp and five against the Banner.

In the second halves, deficits of five and eight points respectively were wiped out only for the opposition to move in front again, but while a draw was salvaged at home to Tipp, they fell just short in Cusack Park on Sunday.

It’s something that manager Pat Ryan acknowledged after the defeat to Brian Lohan’s team.

“We’re kind of getting patches in the middle where we kind of go quiet and we let the team outscore us,” he said.

“I think they outscored us 1-8 to 0-2 at one stage there in the first half and, look, that’s disappointing. We need to work on it a bit better than that but can’t fault our fellas.

“It’s a mammoth task now, we’ll try and raise the lads now again. They’re very disappointed with that result but we have Limerick next week.”

The fear for Cork is that Limerick are likely to punish any such second-quarter lapse next Sunday, but, given that the champions have now gone two games without a win, a drought by their standards, the Rebels won’t be without hope.

With Tipperary facing Waterford, it is a day with quite a few permutations. Ordinarily, three possible outcomes in each match makes for six different denouements, but the fact that scoring difference could come into play means that there an extra two possibilities along with the certainty of Clare being in the Munster final.

Let’s deal with the positive ones for Cork first. An away win at TUS Gaelic Grounds will guarantee them third place if Tipp beat Waterford but, should there be a surprise in Thurles, a draw or a Waterford win there would mean Cork qualifying for the Munster final against Clare.

With Cork and Limerick tied on three points and Cork having a stronger scoring difference, a draw against John Kiely’s side would also be enough to progress. This outcome combined with a Tipp win or a draw in Thurles would have Cork third and Limerick out.

However, if Limerick and Cork draw and Waterford pull off a shock win, then the calculators would really come into play. Such a scenario would have Cork, Tipp and Limerick all level on points with Cork’s scoring difference plus eight and Limerick’s plus one.

With the best scoring difference of the three, Cork would be in second and into the final, while a Waterford win of four points or less would keep Tipp alive and eliminate Limerick – but if they were to triumph by five or more, then Tipp would be headed for the exit with Limerick in third.

On the other hand, a Limerick win knocks Cork out and qualifies Tipp. The Shannonsiders would finish third if Tipp win; a draw in Thurles would need Limerick to win by five or more to finish second; while Limerick and Waterford wins ensure a repeat of last year’s Clare-Limerick Munster final.

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