Cork remained unbeaten in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League as they saw off Offaly at Páirc Uí Rinn today, but the Rebels found things more difficult than expected.
Leading by eight points at half-time, Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side looked set to eat into Limerick’s points-difference advantage, but instead in the second half they found a dogged opposition who refused to relent and reduced the gap to three points at one stage before Cork tacked on late points.
The first half was short on quality, with the sides level at 0-2 each after the first 10 minutes while Offaly were unlucky not to have a goal, midfielder Seán Ryan’s delivery missed by Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash only for the ball to stop on the line before Killian Murphy cleared.
The visitors did get a goal for real in the 17th minute, however. After Cork looked to have found their stride when points from Patrick Horgan and Conor Lehane eased them clear, Dan Currams struck for the Faithful County, firing low to the net after Conor Mahon’s pass beat the Cork defence.
It took Cork five minutes to level at 0-5 to 1-2, but after they did – through Daniel Kearney, they really pushed on. Patrick Horgan’s goal from a 20m free after Stephen Moylan was fouled helped to restore their superiority and from there they eased clear.
Séamus Harnedy and Aidan Walsh got some good points and Walsh would have had a second goal for the Rebels had it not been for James Dempsey’s fine save. At half-time it was 1-12 to 1-4 and very difficult to envisage anything other than a comfortable Cork win.
In truth, that looked like the outcome for much of the second half too, even when points from Brian Carroll and Joe Bergin brought Offaly to within six, but the introductions of Thomas and Peter Geraghty gave the visitors an added dimension.
While Patrick Horgan continued to convert Cork frees, they couldn’t shake off Offaly and had Anthony Nash not kept out Carroll’s effort on 61 it could have been a very nervy final stages.
Even without the goal, points from Cathal Parlon, Stephen Quirke and Bergin left it 1-20 to 1-17, but two points from William Egan eased Cork clear again and they made sure of victory.
A Nash; S O’Neill, W Egan, K Murphy; E Cadogan, E Keane, S McDonnell; R O’Shea, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, S Harnedy, A Walsh; P Horgan, C Lehane, S Moylan.
Subs: B Hartnett for Moylan (47), B Lawton for Lehane (50), C Joyce for Murphy (60), M Cahalane for Kearney (65), C McCarthy for Walsh (68).
J Dempsey; N Wynne, R Hanniffy, J Rigney; C Parlon, G Healion, D Mooney; D Kilmartin, S Ryan; J Bergin, D Currams, C Mahon; B Carroll, S Dooley, K Connolly.
Subs: C McDonald for Healion, P Geraghty for Ryan (both half-time), T Geraghty for Mooney (49), S Quirke for Dooley (58), C Egan for Kilmartin (59).