Huge relief for Cork, but serious faults remain in their ranks

Cork 1-26 Dublin 1-23: Firstly, the positives for Cork. Heaven knows there’s been enough of the other stuff this last while.

Alan Cadogan won’t be considering it now but he can order the tux for the autumn. Putting in another sumptuous display, adding 1-5 to his 0-4 tally against Tipperary, he will be an All-Star nominee come October.

Presented with four first-half scoring opportunities, the Douglas man took every one of them and was on hand for an insurance score late into injury-time.

Ahead of next Saturday, Cork must work out how to find him more. On this form, give him the ball and a yard of grass, he’ll score a point with a touch of sass.

In that regard, Luke O’Farrell should feature in Kieran Kingston’s thinking. Known more for his exploits closer to goal, O’Farrell’s endeavour was laudable from the outset in winning frees and setting up scores, as he did for Cadogan’s 25th minute goal. A word of mention to Pa Horgan’s display too – from frees and open play he looked nothing like the disillusioned figure that was benched against Tipperary six weeks previous.

Granted, Cork were coaxed into playing a sweeper in the second-half after Chris Crummey’s 30th minute sending off but Conor O’Sullivan was composure personified in reading the game. He certainly wasn’t at fault for Eamonn Dillon’s goal and his ability to fill that role will give more food for thought if they face a side that operate the tactic.

How the home side, watched by an enthusiastic 10,058 crowd in Páirc Uí Rinn, responded to that goal concession was heartening. In the space of two minutes, it was cancelled out by Daniel Kearney, Cadogan and Horgan scores.

“When they got the goal, I was delighted with how our fellas responded and got the first couple of scores,” said selector Pat Ryan. “Daniel Kearney got a good score and we were level straight away and we got one or two scores after that.”

Cork had to rally again when Dublin scored the next four points but Bill Cooper, Conor Lehane, Cadogan and Horgan raised white flags to finish out the game.

The impetus shown in the making of those scores by some of the replacements was encouraging for Ryan. “After the Tipperary game, we left four fellas out – Conor O’Sullivan, Daniel Kearney, Brian Lawton and Lorcán McLoughlin – and we thought the impact they had on the game when they came in was huge. So we were delighted with that aspect.”

As much as a win was satisfactory and 27 scores a healthy total, it won’t be forgotten how difficult they found it to shrug off 14 men for over 40 minutes. The smaller than usual Páirc Uí Rinn pitch may have meant Dublin’s disadvantage wasn’t as apparent as it should have been but then Cork were so nervous before Crummey’s departure.

Both before and after his exit, debutant Chris Bennett was giving the Cork full-back line their fill of it, involved in the build-up to Dillon’s goal and helping himself to four points. Ger Cunningham praised his young forward: “He’s brought the form that he’s been showing in training, he’s been showing it in the U21 championship – the last day (v Westmeath) he scored 2-6. And to come down here tonight and give that performance is a great credit to the young man.”

Lehane’s mixed performance was typical of the difficulties Cork had on an evening when they shot 15 wides. Neither he nor Seamus Harnedy could do anything right in the first-half but at least Lehane recovered to send over a couple of second half scores. Cork went into the break 1-10 to 0-11 ahead but having had the wind at their backs it was a measly lead. “We had a lot of wides in the first-half and we didn’t use the ball well,” acknowledged Ryan. “I thought Dublin put us under a lot of pressure and they’re a very good side and obviously the extra man made a bit of a difference for us. They’re a very well-coached team with Ger and even with one less man they worked the ball very well and very smartly in the second half.”

Communication in the back-line remains an issue for Cork. Too many backs continue to find themselves either isolated or simply make the wrong decisions.

Dublin’s attack pickpocketed them on several occasions and there are craftier thieves remaining in the championship.

As for the visitors, Saturday may well be Cunningham’s last game in charge but he can console himself with the fact they went down fighting. “To play 40 minutes with 14 men, and if we had got to the end of the game with a draw, for extra-time we’d have the man back,” Cunningham rued. “I’m just so proud of the lads, their commitment and their attitude in the second-half was top class. We had a bad second-half against Kilkenny and I think we went some way to redeeming ourselves tonight. “So I’m very, very proud of them.”

Pride wasn’t the overriding emotion among the Cork contingent. Just sweet relief. After a trying week for Cork hurling, it will suffice.

Scorers for Cork:

P. Horgan (0-12, 8 frees); A. Cadogan (1-5); C. Lehane (0-3); D. Kearney (0-2); L. O’Farrell, W. Egan, B. Lawton, B. Cooper (0-1 each).

Scorers for Dublin:

D. Treacy (0-9, 7 frees, 1 65); P. Ryan (frees), C. Bennett (0-4 each); E. Dillon (1-0); N. McMorrow, S. Barrett (0-2 each); J. McCaffrey, C. Crummey (0-1 each).

CORK:

A. Nash; M. Ellis, D. Cahalane, K. Burke; A. Walsh, C. Joyce, C. Murphy; W. Egan, B. Cooper; L. O’Farrell, S. Harnedy (c), J. Cronin; A. Cadogan, P. Horgan, C. Lehane.

Subs:

C. O’Sullivan for C. Murphy (h-t); D. Kearney for J. Cronin (46); B. Lawton for W. Egan (49); L. McLoughlin for K. Burke (63); S. Kingston for S. Harnedy (68).

DUBLIN:

G. Maguire; E. O’Donnell, C. O’Callaghan, J. Madden; C. Crummey, L. Rushe (c), S. Barrett; J. McCaffrey, N. McMorrow; D. Treacy, R. O’Dwyer, E. Dillon; P. Ryan, C. Bennett, M. Schutte.

Subs:

N. Corcoran for J. Madden (h-t); S. Treacy for P. Ryan (44); D. O’Connell for J. McCaffrey (46); F. McGibb for M. Schutte (63); D. Plunkett for C. Bennett (67).

Sent off:

C. Crummey (second yellow, 30).

Referee:

P. O’Dwyer (Carlow)


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