Cork always hurl better than they feel they've something to prove

Cork always hurl better than they feel they've something to prove

The Cork hurlers did their talking on the field against Dublin after being slated following the loss to Waterford. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Cork 1-25 Dublin 0-22

A FEW questions answered and most importantly a place in round two of the qualifiers next weekend secured.

The Cork hurlers were full value for this victory at Semple Stadium, with the return of Colm Spillane strengthening the defence considerably, Mark Coleman a joy to watch as a sweeper and Robbie O'Flynn's pace and shooting yielded 0-5 from play up top. He was ably assisted by Seamus Harnedy, who also slipped over five scores, and Shane Kingston, with four.

Robbie O'Flynn was in red-hot form. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Robbie O'Flynn was in red-hot form. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Patrick Horgan was deployed deeper as an auxiliary half-forward and curled over some sweet points but Cork didn't lean on him too heavily. It helped that Deccie Dalton, on his first start, raised a green flag after eight minutes.

Kieran Kingston had his side tuned in from the off, better balanced and well-structured but most importantly tearing into every tackle like their lives depended on it. 

Luke Meade and Bill Cooper did the heavy lifting on the breaks, but collectively the forwards hunted in packs for the first time since beating Limerick last year and Damien Cahalane and Tim O'Mahony used the heft to deny Dublin clean possession in the air. 

Cork looked hungry, wounded even, after their loss to Waterford and the scathing criticism that followed. It was the least expected but it still made a difference, never allowing the Dubs to get a foothold in the game despite some tasty early points by Danny Sutcliffe.

The changes to the line-up made a difference of course. Spillane solidified the full-back line, Luke Meade's energy at midfield facilitated Coleman going back as a sweeper, O'Flynn and Jack O'Connor added pace, Dalton was an option for longer ball.

O'Connor and Dalton linked for the key score in the first half, after eight minutes, with the latter netting to prod Cork 1-4 to 0-3 up and had them the initiative.

With Dalton and O'Connor in a two-man inside line, Horgan was out as a fourth half-forward. The problem was it starved Horgan of possession in the first quarter, though in the second 20 minutes he was fouled for a free and rifled over a soaring point from play.

Still, Cork hit scores from out the field from O'Flynn and Kingston, 0-3 apiece in the first half, while Harnedy nabbed two beauties as well. Coleman was absolutely cleaning up in the free role and Meade showed his quality in the loose.

Mark Coleman was outstanding. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Mark Coleman was outstanding. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The aggression and work-rate was the notable difference from last weekend, Harnedy and Dalton diving into tackles in the middle third. The only slight criticism of Cork was the number of frees they conceded, giving Donal Burke five frees but it was still an encouraging 1-13 to 0-10 at half-time.

They allowed the Dubs to narrow the margin in the last 10 minutes but at least they denied them goals. Psychologically that was important.

Anthony Nash saves a late Dublin free. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Anthony Nash saves a late Dublin free. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

The Rebels eschewed a few handy points themselves to try and engineer goals and while that didn't pay off, it was encouraging. With the speed in the forwards, making it past another two games and to Croke Park in November could be through green flags.

Cork handed out an expected hammering to Dublin when they met at Parnell Park in 2007 but in the three championship encounters from 2008 to '16, it was far tighter. Rebel supporters might expect to beat the Dubs, but the county has no right to anymore.

There might have been a yawning gap since 1927 to the Dubs' last victory over Cork but the Leesiders are 15 seasons and counting without Liam McCarthy returning to the South Mall, an absolute famine. Every opponent must be treated with the utmost respect.

Minor manager Donal Óg Cusack nailed it in his preview: "This Cork team sometimes looks like a group that thinks it has nothing to prove."

On this occasion that wasn't the case at all. And we all saw how much better they hurled because of that.

Bill Cooper ran himself into the ground. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Bill Cooper ran himself into the ground. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-8 (0-5 f, 0-1 65), S Harnedy, R O'Flynn 0-5 each, D Dalton 1-1, S Kingston 0-4, J O'Connor, L Meade 0-1.

Dublin: D Burke 0-11 (0-9 f), C Crummey, D Sutcliffe 0-3 each, C Boland 0-2, C Burke, D Keogh, R Hayes 0-1 each.

CORK: A Nash; R Downey, C Spillane, S O'Donoghue; D Cahalane, M Coleman T O'Mahony; B Cooper, L Meade; S Harnedy, S Kingston, R O'Flynn; J O'Connor, D Dalton, P Horgan (c).

Subs: S McDonnell for O'Donoghue (inj 29), C Lehane for Dalton (52) A Walsh for Harnedy (65), N O'Leary for Downey (67), S Barrett for O'Connor (73).

DUBLIN: A Nolan; P Smyth, E O'Donnell, J Madden; C Burke, D Gray, C O'Callaghan; J Malone, R McBride; C Boland, C Crummey, D Sutcliffe; D Burke, R Hayes, E Dillon.

Subs: D Keogh for Dillon (46), S Moran for Malone (50), L Rushe for Hayes (51), M Schutte for Boland (51), C Keaney for McBride (66).

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).

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