Cork win but fail to drive home the point

Cork 1-24 Offaly 1-18

Cork win but fail to drive home the point

Leading by eight points at half-time, Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side appeared set to drive on but a second-half surge never materialised.

Though they never looked like losing, it was a bit too close for comfort, and means that the trip to Antrim must now be targeted, as Cork bid to keep pace with Limerick.

There were some positives. Eoin Keane carried himself well at centre-back, Séamus Harnedy showed that he continues to develop into a real star and Aidan Walsh gave signs that he can have an impact at inter-county level.

As against Laois, however, at times Cork struggled against a seven-man defence and didn’t create any second-half goalscoring opportunities. In addition, one glorious point aside, Conor Lehane was left isolated at full-forward, with little opportunity to showcase his talents.

The opening 10 minutes provided just four points, evenly shared, and though points from Conor Lehane and Patrick Horgan helped Cork to pull away, they were then rattled by the concession of a goal.

It came in the 17th minute, Offaly wing-forward Conor Mahon firing in a low ball which the Cork full-back line could not deal with, allowing Dan Currams to claim possession and send a low shot past Anthony Nash.

Before that, the visitors had come close to a goal when Seán Ryan’s delivery from midfield was misjudged by Nash, only to stop just before the line, with Killian Murphy clearing to safety. Their lead was only fleeting, however, as Daniel Kearney responded for Cork and then they got a goal of their own, Patrick Horgan nailing a 20m free after Stephen Moylan was fouled.

From there, Cork found their feet and Harnedy and Walsh both helped themselves to points, with Walsh only denied a goal by a good James Dempsey save. But for good pressure by Offaly sweeper Kevin Connolly — who had earlier got in a good hook to deny Horgan a chance — Lehane might also have goaled before the break but he pulled his shot wide. Nevertheless, Cork were more than comfortable as they turned with a 1-12 to 1-4 advantage.

That really should have been the platform from which to run up a score and put pressure on Limerick in the points-difference stakes, but instead we saw an Offaly revival.

Though Horgan got the first score of the second half to stretch the lead to nine, that was the most that separated the sides. Joe Bergin and Brian Carroll were doing much of the heavy lifting in Offaly’s attack but their prospects were greatly improved by the additions of twins Thomas and Peter Geraghty.

Their strong running gave the visitors an extra dimension, and both were on the scoresheet shortly after coming on. Nice points from Daniel Kearney and sub Brian Lawton helped to ensure that Cork did not completely shut down and then when Horgan scored three in as many minutes — only interrupted by a Thomas Geraghty point — it was 1-19 to 1-11.

Offaly simply didn’t know when they were beaten and Carroll and Bergin both chipped away a the lead again before they fashioned a great goal chance.

The ball was worked through Currams and Mahon to set up Carroll. In the mind’s eye, the net had already started dancing but Nash put his body on the line to block and then completed the clearance, to the delight of much of the 6,3554 crowd.

A goal then would have left just three in it, but, after Horgan’s eighth point for Cork, Offaly brought the deficit to three anyway.

Cathal Parlon, sub Stephen Quirke and two Bergin frees ensured that there were plenty of home nerves with the clock ticking towards 70.

Enter William Egan. Named at wing-back, started at full-back and deployed as a spare man as Offaly went with five forwards, he scorched over two points from downtown and then Harnedy got his fourth to ease any jitters. Thomas Geraghty did get one last Offaly point but Lorcán McLoughlin had the final say.

Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 1-8 (0-4fs), S Harnedy 0-4, A Walsh 0-3, D Kearney, W Egan, L McLoughlin 0-2 each, R O’Shea, B Lawton, C Lehane 0-1 each.

Scorers for Offaly: J Bergin 0-6 (0-3 frees, 0-1 65), B Carroll 0-5 (frees), D Currams 1-1, T Geraghty 0-3, P Geraghty, S Quirke, C Parlon 0-1 each.

CORK: 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 for Cork: 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).

OFFALY: 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 for Offaly: C McDonald for Healion, P Geraghty for Ryan (both half-time), T Geraghty for Mooney (49), S Quirke for Dooley (58).

Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway).

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