Offally 1-12 Cork 3-19
Aisake Ó hAilpín collected his first two SHC goals as Cork saw off the challenge of Offaly in tonight’s qualifier clash in Tullamore.
The 23-year-old forward got the better of his marker David Kenny and goalkeeper Brian Mullins, slamming home a goal in each half.
Offaly were only 1-10 to 1-08 behind at half-time, with Shane Dooley hitting a 19th minute goal.
But the Jerry O’Connor-inspired Rebels owned the second half and goals from substitute Patrick Horgan and Ó hAilpín put the result beyond doubt.
The crowd present were treated to a very competitive first half with little to chose between the teams. Ben O’Connor and Derek Molloy traded points in the opening two minutes, with Offaly perhaps shading the early exchanges.
O’Connor’s twin brother Jerry, arguably the game’s outstanding player, powered forward from his midfield station to skillfully fire over Cork’s second point.
The visitors had more verve in attack but Offaly’s forwards were well able to take their scores, as proved by Shane Dooley and Brian Carroll, with Paul Cleary also stepping up to the mark.
Newcomer Tadhg Óg Murphy and Timmy McCarthy kept Cork ticking with points before Shane Dooley crept a thundering shot beyond the reach of Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack to register the hosts’ only goal.
But Cork were able to bounce back, mainly through the O’Connors, before Ó hAilpín was found in plenty of space and the Na Piarsaigh clubman weaved his way through before rifling past Mullins.
With Derek Molloy and Joe Bergin adding their names to the scoresheet, Offaly kept the pressure on and made it a one-point game before Cork managed to set sail for the second round.
The gap was significantly widened when a ball in from Sean Óg Ó hAilpín found substitute Patrick Horgan and his smart finish to the left corner of the net gave Mullins little chance.
Conor Mahon and Bergin replied with points for Offaly but Cork were now on a roll and a flurry of points followed before Aisake claimed his second goal, 16 minutes from the finish.
The former Aussie Rules hopeful missed out on a hat-trick late on, with his effort being forced over the crossbar, but Cork had already done enough to get their Championship campaign back on track.