With the county not having entered the Waterford Crystal Cup as it clashed with their team holiday, this was the Rebels’ first outing of the year. While its importance should not be over-emphasised, there were some encouraging signs, not least from newcomers in the white (due to a colour-clash) Cork jersey.
Manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy was pleased to get a winning start but stressed the importance of looking forward.
“It was very difficult for both teams, the conditions were fairly bad,” he said. “It was a good workout, the lads were away on holidays and we’re just glad to be back in competitive action. We have brought a few players into the panel and they’re keen to prove a point and earn their place and give us a few headaches, hopefully.
“We had a number of players on the UCC panel too so from that point of view it was a very worthwhile exercise and a good pipe-opener.”
Paul Haughney, a star of Midleton’s county winning campaign last year, slotted in well alongside Lorcán McLoughlin at midfield and ended a hard-working shift with three points to his name. Eoin Keane shone too at wing-back, especially in the first half, and he made a goal-saving hook on UCC’s Willie Griffin early in the second period.
Brian Lawton at number 10 – his brother Barry occupied the same berth for UCC – did enough to suggest he will get a chance during the league. More established names like Patrick Horgan, who finished with 1-9, and Cian McCarthy also showed up well, while Stephen Moylan had 1-3 from play.
His 20th-minute goal put Cork 1-5 to 0-3 ahead, with UCC suffering from the absence of Conor Lehane, a late withdrawal.
Griffin was forced to carry a lot of the scoring burden as a result, but they rallied before half-time through Brian Murray and Rob O’Shea. The latter was another taking the chance to impress the Cork management as he finished with three points, on a day when the cross-wind meant shooting was difficult.
Cork turned with a six-point advantage and both Jamie Coughlan and Lawton failed to capitalise on goal chances soon after the restart. UCC did manage to come back to three points, 1-12 to 1-9, when Griffin showed great control from an O’Shea pass before finishing. But Cork always had enough in the tank to keep them at bay.
Horgan wrapped things up late on as he blasted Moylan’s lay-off to the top corner and sub Daniel Kearney also got in on the act. They face Tipperary in a challenge next weekend, while UCC open their Fitzgibbon Cup defence against WIT on Thursday.
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan (1-9, seven frees), S Moylan (1-3), P Haughney (0-3), C McCarthy, M O’Sullivan, D Kearney, J Coughlan (0-1 each).
Scorers for UCC: W Griffin (1-8, four frees), R O’Shea (0-3), P Prendergast (free), B Murray, D McCormack (0-1 each).
CORK: A Nash; C Joyce, S O’Neill, K Murphy; E Keane, M Ellis, W Egan; P Haughney, L McLoughlin; B Lawton, C McCarthy, M O’Sullivan; S Moylan, P Horgan, J Coughlan.
Subs: L O’Farrell for Coughlan, D Kearney for McLoughlin (both 49), S White for Egan (56), A Ryan for Haughney, S O’Farrell for McCarthy (both 64).
UCC (Cork unless stated): D McCarthy; S Maher (Tipperary), D Glynn (Kilkenny), P O’Sullivan; C Spillane, P Prendergast (Waterford), K Bourke; B Murray, D Roche; B Lawton, D McCormack (Tipperary), R O’Shea; W Griffin (Limerick), B Hartnett, J Ahern (Limerick).
Subs: C Murphy for Bourke (26, injured), D Lester for Maher, M Driscoll for Glynn, S Roche for Prendergast (all 56), T Butler (Tipperary for Hartnett, M Collins for Roche (both 60), P Deasy for Ahern (62).
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).