Niall Coakley makes the most of Cork opportunity

Cork’s 2017 season opened in promising fashion last night as an experimental outfit eased past the challenge of Tipperary.

Niall Coakley makes the most of Cork opportunity

A Wednesday night fixture under lights in Templetuohy was as off-Broadway as season openers go, but in fairness to Peadar Healy’s mix and match outfit, they went about their business in determined fashion and had their first victory of the year wrapped up by the call for half-time.

Cian Dorgan and John Mullins were handed their competitive debuts, while Niall Coakley, a native of Carrigaline who plays his club football with St Jude’s in Dublin, was also afforded a first start in a red shirt.

Dorgan was an early withdrawal, an injury sustained in the 12th minute cutting short the Ballincollig man’s evening. His replacement, Kevin Davis, was one of the standout performers on either side, the Skibb forward kicking six points from play upon his introduction. Coakley too had a good night at the office. He finished with 2-3.

Feeding both men, more often than not, was centre- forward Seán Powter, the young Douglas footballer displaying pretty commendable levels of fitness for the second week of January.

This McGrath Cup game was the first meeting of the counties since Tipperary’s famous Munster championship win over the Rebels in June of last year and while revenge certainly wasn’t on the travelling agenda, there was never any fear of a second successive defeat at the hands of the Premier County materialising.

It was game over at half-time, the visitors enjoying a 1-12 to 1-4 advantage. The situation would have been far worse for Liam Kearns’ charges but for an Alan Moloney goal in first-half stoppages. Injury had robbed the home management of defenders Paddy Codd and Colm O’Shaughnessy and their full-back line was continuously stretched by Coakley and the direct running of Powter. Davis, meanwhile, had four points beside his name come the break.

Coakley supplied both Cork goals, the first of which arrived in the 20th minute and in the middle of an unanswered 1-6 from the winners. His initial effort came back down off the post and when Powter suffered the same fortune, the ball fell kindly back into Coakley’s path and he rattled the net from close range.

Healy’s charges noticeably eased off in the second period, with six points being as close as Tipperary would get, that after two on the bounce from the impressive Liam Boland. Liam McGarth and Robbie Kiely were the other Tipperary players to show form, the former kicking three from play before being hauled ashore.

As it was, Cork finished out proceedings with an uninterrupted 1-7. Powter put through Coakley for goal number two on 60 minutes, with Ruairi Deane, Powter, Conor Dorman, Padraig De Róiste, Brian and Don O’Driscoll swelling their tally.

A second successive defeat ends Tipperary’s involvement in the competition, while Cork host Kerry at Mallow on Sunday with the winner advancing to the following weekend’s McGrath Cup decider.

Scorers for Cork:

N Coakley (2-3, 0-1 free); K Davis (0-6); B O’Driscoll, D O’Driscoll (0-3 each); R Deane, S Powter (0-2 each); C Dorman, I Maguire, P De Róiste (0-1 each);

Scorers for Tipperary:

L Boland (0-4); L McGrath (0-3); A Moloney (1-0); D Foley, L Casey (0-1 each).

CORK:

R Price; M Shields, J Mullins, J. McLoughlin; S Cronin, C Dorman, M Taylor; I Maguire, R Deane; K O’Driscoll, S Powter, B O’Driscoll; N Coakley, P Kelleher, C Dorgan.

Subs:

D O’Driscoll for K O’Driscoll (11 mins, inj); K Davis for Dorgan (12 mins, inj); K Histon for Taylor (HT); P De Roiste for Maguire (HT).

TIPPERARY:

C Kenrick; B Fox, J Hennessy, K Fahey; J Keane, R Kiely, B Maher; A Moloney, J Kennedy; J Lonergan, L Casey, L McGrath; L Boland, C Stapleton, D Foley.

Subs:

A McGrath for Maher (HT); P Shanahan for Casey (42 mins); C Sweeney for L McGrath (45); M Dunne for Kiely (49, bc); I Fahey for Foley (55).

Referee:

R Hickey (Clare).

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