DEPENDING on results elsewhere in Division 3 this weekend, there is a chance that Cork could clinch promotion with two games to go.
If Cork beat Derry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday (2pm throw-in), they would hit the ten-point target that manager Ronan McCarthy set for them at the outset of the campaign.
But whether they earn promotion this weekend or the following weekend when they host bottom side Louth, there is a growing inevitability that the Rebels will be heading straight back to Division 2.
Cork are on a four-match winning streak right now and boss Ronan McCarthy wants them to keep that run going.
‘If and when we do reach that ten-point target, we want to keep winning games and go beyond that. If we were to get to ten points on Sunday it won’t lessen our expectation in relation to the remaining games,’ McCarthy told The Southern Star.
‘I am confident that we would be promoted with ten points, but Down didn’t make it last year on ten points when three teams finished on ten points. The way games have gone this year, and with draws, I think ten will get us home alright.’
Derry are the visitors to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday and they are one of four teams huddled together on five points, three points behind leaders Cork.
Derry are coming off a 2-10 to 1-9 win against Louth last weekend, a match where Shane McGuigan top-scored with 1-7 for the Ulster men. Cork boss McCarthy is wary of McGuigan’s attacking threat and has also insisted that his side will need to be patient against Derry this weekend.
‘I have seen a lot of Derry’s games, against Down and Tipperary. The way Rory Gallagher will set up the team, they will be defensively very sound, they will commit a lot of men to their defence but they do break well and they have a very good full forward in McGuigan, who does a lot of their scoring and is a very effective target man,’ McCarthy noted.
‘Any Rory Gallagher team is well set-up and very well organised, and the key thing is not give the ball away and get turned over where you are open to the counter attack.
‘We managed that quite well in the Down game and in periods too against Tyrone last year so we are experienced enough to know how to play against it. It will require patience because you have to pick your opportunities against massed defences.’
Cork have passed each test put in front of them in Division 3 so far and McCarthy isn’t surprised either that they have been run close in some of the matches. ‘We’re extremely happy with where we are right now,’ McCarthy said.
‘I was at pains to point out to people at the start of the league that this would be tough because there was an assumption that the games would be straightforward.
‘Even though we have won all our games they haven’t been straightforward at all. We had plenty of trouble against Offaly in the first game and we had a big challenge against Tipp last Saturday night. Down presented a different challenge in the way that they play and we might get a similar challenge from Derry this Sunday.
‘The danger was that there was a notion that Cork would steamroll sides in Division 3, and while we have managed to get maximum points we have had difficult periods in a lot of games.’ Elsewhere in Division 3 this weekend, Louth host Leitrim, Longford are at home to Tipperary, while Offaly entertain Down.