Despite being champions, Cork did not enter the McGrath Cup and, having only jetted back last Sunday morning from a holiday to Thailand, last night represented the beginning of their preparations for the upcoming NFL and championship campaign.
CIT represented sticky opposition as they are in the throes of a busy schedule. They face a McGrath Cup semi-final battle with UCC next Friday afternoon, which acts as a precursor for their big opening date in the Sigerson Cup against the winners of St Mary’s College and Mary Immaculate College, Limerick on February 3.
Last night’s game was not really instructive for either camp as the conditions proved horrible, with driving wind and rain inhibiting any attempts to play free-flowing football. The weather wreaked havoc with the underfoot conditions and as a result the match was restricted to two halves of 20 minute duration.
Yet Counihan was still pleased afterwards that his team got a game under their belts. “You couldn’t really read too much into that game with the weather the way it was. But it’s still good for us to get a run out and the year starts from here. We got to have a look at some new players and that’s important for us going forward.”
Cork fielded 24 players in all with a bunch of new names appearing on their teamsheet. Cork U21 All-Ireland winners last year Colm O’Driscoll and David Goold got starting berths in attack, while All-Ireland junior winner last season Richard O’Sullivan played the opening period at left half-back.
The defensive make-up was also notable for the inclusion of Douglas duo Eoin Cadogan and Eoin Cotter, who was a county U21 player in 2008. Amongst the substitutes introduced were former Cork U21 All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran and Macroom player Sean Kiely.
It was Kiely’s input that essentially settled the game as he pounced for the only goal in the second-half. Nicholas Murphy made the hard yards by carrying the ball purposefully from midfield before passing inside to Kiely who calmly rolled his shot to the net.
Up until that juncture the match had been tightly contested. It was 0-2 apiece at half-time with Patrick Kelly and John Hayes landing points for Cork, cancelled out by efforts for CIT by Shane McCarthy and Gary Sayers. CIT kicked on in the second-half with McCarthy and Fitzpatrick pushing them into a two-point advantage, before Kiely propelled Cork back in front once more. A pointed free by McCarthy levelled the game again before a lovely late shot by Derek Kavanagh handed Cork a narrow success.
Scorers for Cork: S Kiely 1-0, P Kelly, J Hayes, D Kavanagh 0-1 each.
CIT: S McCarthy 0-3 (0-1f), G Sayers, J Fitzpatrick 0-1 each.
CORK: K Murphy; B Crowley, D Kavanagh, E Cotter; P Kissane, E Cadogan, R O’Sullivan; A O’Connor, F Goold; F Lynch, P Kelly, C O’Driscoll; J Masters, D Goold, J Hayes.
Subs: (All half-time): P O’Neill for D Goold, S O’Brien for Masters, S Kiely for Lynch, N Murphy for F Goold, K O’Halloran for Murphy, N O’Donovan for R O’Sullivan, N O’Leary for Kissane, M Shields for A O’Connor, K O’Connor for Crowley.
CIT: (All Cork unless stated) L Sheehan (Kerry); N Galvin, R Carey, S O’Donoghue; A Downes (Dublin), P O’Flynn, C O’Driscoll; S O’Hare (Waterford), A O’Sullivan; G Sayers (Kerry), P Kerrigan, S McCarthy; R Leahy, C Crowley, D Goulding.
Subs: B Walsh for Sheehan, N Canty for Galvin, D Lynch for O’Flynn, R O’Dwyer for O’Donoghue, R Power for O’Driscoll, J Fitzpatrick for O’Hare, J O’Mahony for O’Sullivan, J O’Leary for Sayers, G White for Kerrigan, L Harrington for Goulding.
Referee:C Lyons (Nemo Rangers).