THERE are nine different permutations ahead of Sunday’s last round of Munster SHC games and, depending on the result, Cork could reach the final, come third and progress to the All-Ireland series or have their season ended before midsummer. Such are the vagaries of the outcomes that Cork could win against Clare in Ennis (2pm throw-in) and not make the decider, draw and reach the final or lose to the Banner and still advance to the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final against the Joe McDonagh Cup winners. Let’s look first at what happens if Cork win:
Cork and Tipperary win: This would see Tipp finish top on eight points with four wins from four, with Cork clear in second place on six points and Limerick in third on four. Cork would meet Tipp in the Munster final, with Páirc Uí Chaoimh the venue based on the home-and-away arrangement from before the round-robin came in.
Cork and Limerick win: Cork, Limerick and Tipp would be level on six points, but currently the other two counties have a superior scoring difference to Cork so it would need a large Cork win to make the final.
Cork win and Tipperary/Limerick draw: As with the first possibility, Cork finish second to Tipp and Limerick in third.
Clare/Cork draw and Tipperary win: This would also be enough to make the final, with Cork on five points and Limerick on four.
Clare/Cork draw and Limerick win: In this scenario, Limerick would top the table thanks to a head-to-head record against Tipp – when two sides are level, head-to-head is used but if three or more are tied then scoring-difference is the differentiator. However, the Premier County would still be second and in the final with Cork third.
Clare/Cork draw and Tipperary/Limerick draw: The table would effectively be unchanged, meaning a Cork-Tipp final and Limerick in third place, losing out to Cork on the head-to-head.
Clare and Tipperary win: Such an outcome would have Tipp clear at the top on eight points while Clare, Cork and Limerick would be tied on four points. Barring a heavy defeat, it’s likely that Cork’s scoring difference would be enough to fend off Clare for third place with Limerick finishing second and reaching the final.
Clare and Limerick win: This is one to avoid for Cork. Limerick’s win puts them first and Tipp second, leaving Clare and Cork both on four points but Cork eliminated due to the head-to-head tie-breaker.
Clare win and Tipperary/Limerick draw: As above, Tipp and Limerick in the final but Cork out.