That was the message delivered by UCC corner-forward Conor Cox yesterday afternoon, the right-footed Listowel Emmets footballer kicking nine points in this first round Sigerson Cup rout of city rivals Cork IT.
Cox stood a class apart at the Mardyke, the commander-in-chief of an impressive forward unit where fellow Kerry men Thomas Hickey, All-Ireland winner Paul Geaney and Shaun Keane contributed handsomely.
UCC manager Billy Morgan was effusive in his praise of Cox and expects his star pupil to don the green and gold this summer.
“I think he is an out-and-out class player. I expected him to be on the Kerry panel last year. It beats me why he wasn’t,” said Morgan. “I am sure after today, like he was outstanding for us. He has been outstanding for us all this season and they’ll have to take note.”
Upended by CIT corner-back Paul O’Sullivan, it was UCC’s stand-out performer who had the home outfit off the mark inside the opening two minutes. CIT dangerman Donal Óg Hodnett and Cox traded points before Cox further stamped his authority on proceedings, cutting in from the left corner and blasting over.
Gaining a slight edge around the middle, where Killian O’Connor and roving centre-back Brendan O’Sullivan impressed early on, CIT moved in front on 11 minutes, John Corkery pouncing for the contest’s opening major. In a sweeping move involving Darragh Treacy, Sean O’Flynn and Barry O’Mahony, Corkery collected possession on the edge of the square and finished low beyond UCC keeper Michael Martin.
O’Sullivan and the hard-working Hodnett split the posts in the ensuing passages of play, CIT now 1-3 to 0-3 ahead.
Momentum was clearly with the underdogs, but four poor wides during this spell proved their undoing for when the tide went out on their dominance, Kissane’s charges were left savagely exposed.
Paul Geaney settled UCC with a fine effort on 20 minutes and the winners would strike a further 2-4 without reply on the run in to the break, not even a black card to centre-back Brian O’Driscoll could throw the reigning champions.
Sean Kiely’s excellently timed pass allowed Thomas Hickey fist to the net and their second goal was too a punched effort, Shaun Keane making sufficient contact with a probing Cox delivery.
With half-backs Thomas Clancy and Conor Dorman attacking from deep, CIT‘s defence was helpless to stem the relentless flow of red shirts, and, indeed, scores. Luke Connolly, the impressive Clancy and Cox (0-2, 0-1 free) further stretched the gap, Morgan’s troops enjoying a 2-8 to 1-3 interval advantage.
There would be no easing on the throttle at the change of ends, Conor Dorman, set-up by Keane and Clancy, registering goal number three. Cox (0-2), Clancy and Keane raised white flags thereafter to put UCC firmly in the driving seat. Nine minutes into the second half and the favourites coasting at 3-12 to 1-3, it was game over.
Brendan O’Sullivan ended CIT’s 27-minute barren spell with a right-footed effort entering the final quarter, substitute Michael Vaughan and Corkery lending support to the damage limitation act.
Fittingly, though, Cox would have the final say, nailing a long-range free on the track side.
Scorers for UCC: C Cox (0-9, 0-4 frees); T Hickey, S Keane (1-1 each); C Dorman (1-0); T Clancy (0-2); L Connolly, P Geaney (0-1).
Scorers for CIT: J Corkery (1-1); D Óg Hodnett (0-1 free), B O’Sullivan (0-2 each); M Vaughan (0-1).
UCC: M Martin (Nemo Ranegrs); F McNamara (Austin Stacks), D Culhane (Ballylongford), J McGuire (Listowel Emmets); C Dorman (Bishopstown), B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), T Clancy (Fermoy); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), G O’Sullivan (Listry); S Keane (Legion), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers), S Kiely (Ballincollig); C Cox (Listowel Emmets), P Geaney (Dingle), T Hickey (Castleisland Desmonds).
Subs: S White (Clonakilty) for O’Driscoll (bc, 19 mins), D Harrington (Adrigole) for Geaney (37), E Ó Conchuir (An Gaeltacht) for Kiely (40), P O’Connor (Legion) for Culhane (48), J Davis (Douglas) for Clancy (50), A O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers) for Keane (57).
CIT: D Hanrahan (Douglas); P O’Sullivan (Valentia Young Islanders), S Cahill (Mount Collins), TJ Brosnan (Newmarket); C Jordan (Austin Stacks), B O’Sullivan (Valentia Young Islanders), D Leahy (Arravale Rovers); K O’Connor (Mallow), D Treacy (St Kieran’s); S O’Flynn (Fr Sheehy’s), J O’Connor (Boherbue), P Crowley (O’Donovan Rossa); B O’Mahony (Clonakilty), D Óg Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa), J Corkery (Aghabullogue).
Subs: M Vaughan (Millstreet) for O’Connor (HT), R Whelton (Castlehaven) for Leahy (38 mins), M Taylor (Mallow) for Crowley (38), A O’Connor (Knocknagree) for O’Mahony (47), D Daly (St Mary’s) for Treacy (51), C Flanagan (Clyda Rovers) for Brosnan (inj, 55).
Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).