Cork 2-14 Laois 0-10
Cork enjoyed little more than a training spin against a hugely disappointing Laois outfit, to accumulate another brace of points and keep the defence of their Allianz Football League Division 1 title back on track at O’Moore Park.
Conor Counihan’s side played the last 31 minutes and change at a numerical disadvantage after the sending off of Pearse O’Neill for a deserved second yellow card offence and while the scoring rate might have slowed, there was never any threat of a remarkable comeback.
Laois actually tore out of the traps with three points inside the opening six minutes but only managed to add another two by half time. At that stage, Cork had rattled up 2-11 and the game was well and truly put to bed.
The in-form Ross Munnelly, John O’Loughlin and a Michael John Tierney free established an early two-point lead for the hosts but it wasn’t long before Cork’s superior conditioning and sheer size began to pay dividends.
It was too easy for the Rebels at times though as Fintan Goold plundered their points and Aidan Walsh, Donncha O’Connor and Colm O’Neill added a brace apiece.
Walsh should really have goaled when blazing over with only Laois goalkeeper Eoin Culliton to beat, while Culliton made a splendid reflex save from O’Connor despite being wrong-footed.
Cork still managed two goals though, both coming from O’Neill. The Ballyclough man signalled his good health with two emphatic finishes and a generally impressive performance that indicated once again, what a loss he was to the Leesiders last year when a cruciate ligament injury ruled him out.
O’Neill struck in the seventh minute and the first of injury time, having been left in splendid isolation by some schoolboy defending, and Laois’ general inability to deal with the Cork’s aerial threat in the full-forward line.
At 2-11 to 0-5 the game was over, and O’Neill’s dismissal did nothing except perhaps prevent the final scoreline having an even more one-sided hue.
To be fair, Laois did make a better fist of things in the second half, with half-time substitute Scott Conroy giving them a bit more thrust up front.
It was Conroy who was hauled down in the 39th minute by O’Neill with a goal threatening and Tierney made no mistake from the placed ball.
Colm Begley kicked a super point and Conroy was involved in an excellent move that finished with O’Loughlin’s second point but O’Neill kicked a sensational score in response that was followed within seconds by Walsh’s third.
A 17-minute drought followed as the game fizzled out completely. Tierney had the final say with his fourth free in the 70th minute but this was a dreadful effort by Justin McNulty’s men.
For Cork, it was mission accomplished but there will certainly be stiffer challenges ahead.
Cork: A Quirke; R Carey, E O’Mahony, E Cotter 0-1; P Kissane 0-1, N O’Leary, G Canty; A O’Connor, P O’Neill; F Goold 0-3, P Kerrigan 0-1, P Kelly; D O’Connor 0-2(1f), A Walsh 0-3, C O’Neill 2-3(0-1 45).
Subs: B O’Driscoll for Kerrigan (56); S Kiely for Canty (56); D O’Sullivan for Kissane (67); J Fitzpatrick for A O’Connor (67); L Shorten for D O’Connor (67)
Laois: E Culliton; P O’Leary, K Lillis, C Healy; C Boyle, C Begley 0-1, D Strong; K Meaney, J O’Loughlin 0-2; P Cahillane 0-1, D O’Connor, B Sheehan; R Munnelly 0-2, A Kelly, MJ Tierney 0-4(fs).
Subs: M Timmons for O’Connor (ht); S Conroy for Sheehan (ht); S Ramsbottom for Kelly (46); G Walsh for O’Loughlin (67); L Kealy for Strong (67)
Referee: C Reilly (Meath)