Cork 2-11 Louth 0-10: An unusual game at Páirc Uí Rinn: Cork cruise to victory, despite having two men sent off, while simultaneously being flattered by a seven-point winning margin.
The home side were slicker and sharper than the visitors, but the dismissal of Kevin O’Driscoll, in the 47th minute, was followed by a Louth run of scores which narrowed Cork’s lead to four. Peter Kelleher was sent off for Cork, who defended calmly, but Cian Kiely’s late, coolly-taken goal still gave the scoreboard a somewhat false appearance.
“We were very poor,” said Cork manager, Ronan McCarthy. “The only two positives are we won the game and we got new people in again to make their debuts. We got game time into a few people. Those are the positives.
“It was a very poor, disjointed performance, particularly in the second-half, and we got there, but not with any great conviction.”
McCarthy wasn’t taking the two sendings-off as mitigating factors, either: “I would have thought we weren’t great in the first-half, when we had fifteen, so I wouldn’t like to use the sendings-off as an excuse for that.
“I just thought it was disorganised. We started falling back, and that doesn’t suit us, as a team. We have to be pushing forward all the time, really.” In conditions which swung between sunny springtime and near-blizzard, Cork were well on top for the first-half, easing to an early, 0-4 to 0-2 lead, and, in the 20th minute, Mark Collins found Sean White for a well-taken goal.
Michael Hurley and Ian Maguire were prominent for the home side, who led 1-8 to 0-3 on the half-hour, but Cork goalkeeper, Ryan Price, had to beat away a Conor Earley shot for goal, and Price repeated the dose from Ciaran Downey, before half-time. A Ryan Burns 45, late-on, was matched by a Mark Collins point from play, leaving it 1-9 to 0-4 at the break.
The game meandered on through the snow, until the 47th minute, when Cork lost O’Driscoll to a second yellow card. Two quick Louth points made the score 1-10 to 0-6 and substitute, William Woods, scored three points from frees, in a row, to cut the deficit to four.
Cork substitute, Peter Kelleher, received a straight red with five minutes left, but Cork defended well, with Cian Kiely and Ruairi Deane giving good leadership. Deep in injury time, Kiely rounded off a sweeping move with a well-taken goal.
McCarthy wasn’t forgetting Louth’s goal chances in the first-half, however: “That was disappointing, from the point of view that we looked so solid against Down. What happens is you try to encourage the team to attack and be positive, but you have to get the balance right and make sure you don’t leave yourself open.
“A couple of times, they broke through and we had no-one between midfield and our full-back line. Ryan (Price) had to make a couple of good saves. At half-time, though, we were well ahead. The scoreboard didn’t reflect, in fairness, that Louth should have had one goal, if not two.
“Then, as the game went on, in the second-half, we got more and more disjointed — the seven-point margin at the end flattered us massively.”
The Douglas clubman wouldn’t bite, when offered the consolation of winning while playing badly. “I’d prefer to win playing well. I know the ‘win playing badly’ line gets thrown out, but if you play at that level consistently, you won’t win too many games.
“We had a few guys who showed up well: Cian Kiely was good going forward, for instance, and what it does is it gives us another body to consider and a bit of a selection headache when everyone is back.”
*Before the game, there was a minute’s silence in memory of Liam Miller, who passed away last week. Miller played Gaelic games for Éire Óg, before starring for Manchester United, Celtic, and Cork City.
Scorers for Cork:
S White, C Kiely (1-1 each); C O’Neill (3 frees)(0-4); M Collins (2 frees)(0-3 each); C Kiely, M Hurley (0-1 each).
Scorers for Louth:
R Burns (0-4, 3 frees, 1 45), W Woods (0-3, frees); A McDonnell, G McSorley, B Duffy (0-1 each).
R Price, S Ryan, J O’Sullivan, S Wilson, T Clancy, C Dorman, C Kiely, I Maguire (c), R Deane, S White, M Hurley, K O’Driscoll, S Sherlock, C O’Neill, M Collins.
M Taylor for Sherlock (HT); D O’Callaghan for White (51); D Quinn for Dorman and P Kelleher for Hurley (both 58); C Dorgan for Maguire (65); P Clancy for Wilson (70).
C Lynch, J Bingham, E Carolan, F Donohue, D Marks, J Stewart, A Williams, C. Earley, B Duffy, C Downey, J McEneaney, A McDonnell, R Burns, D Maguire, C Grimes.
E Lafferty for Marks and T Durnin for McEneaney (HT); G McSorley for Earley, W Woods for Burns and J Craven for Bingham (all 53); T McEneaney for Grimes (57).
M McNally (Monaghan).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved