Attacking football and goals are the order of the day in the new Cork championship

Attacking football and goals are the order of the day in the new Cork championship

Cill Na Martra's Damien Ó hUrdail celebrates his first goal against Knocknagree during the Bon Secours Cork PIFC at Mourneabbey. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

AS A goal of the week competition the standard was pretty high.

Last weekend’s final round of football games in the top three grades provided a lot of goals (68 across 18 games) and mostly it provided some really good goals.

There was David Shannon’s outside-of-the-foot blaster into the top corner against St Michael’s for Skibb or Eoin Kelleher’s wonderful catch and lobbed finish into the corner of the net for Mallow to beat Bantry.

Both Mark Collins’ goals for Castlehaven were tasty. Cill na Martra went all Bayern Munich on poor Barcelona, sorry Knocknagree, and had some beauties in their seven (yes, seven) goals.

It was that sort of weekend where on one hand it was an awful pity supporters didn’t get to see the quality live yet it was great to be able to catch up with scores and games and performances through various streams that wouldn’t otherwise have been available.

It was that sort of weekend that confirmed the current qualities of this local championship, that added to the recent trend (not just this year) for attacking football here where teams are routinely totting up large scores.

Teams want to score to win and it makes for an obvious comparison between those who are able to put up the scores and those who struggle.

Cill na Martra are an interesting study. For an age they were a team that had plenty of the basics to be competitive but lacked a real scoring threat.

Now the balance has shifted and it’s hard to think of a better-moving team at any club level here, where they’ve been building score levels this past few years with the development of proper go-to forwards like the Ó Duinníns and middle-third playmakers like Tadgh Corkery.

They had signalled intent with four goals last time against the Barr’s and here against Knocknagree there was that same desire to score as often and as ruthlessly as possible.

They moved the ball incredibly well through the field with runners and fast movement and as Brian Cuthbert pointed out in commentary, you could see directly how a team can improve by playing football at a high league level.

Their third goal showed their speed and support play, midfielder Gearóid Ó Goillidhe with a lovely running angle to take an offload and open up Knocknagree.

Their fifth goal had a whole pile of possession in the middle third and then a clever crossfield kick-pass into the spaces for Dan Ó Duinnín to finish one-v-one.

Their sixth goal had Tadgh Corkery absolutely sprint all out for 40 or 50 metres (the game was over anyway) into the spaces just to give Ciaran Ó Duinnín a one-two option past the goalkeeper.

It was cruel and again, Cuthbert did make the point that Knocknagree didn’t help themselves at times with overplaying in defence and their own desire to play open football that left them so vulnerable once Cill na Martra were able to counterattack.

But Cill na Marta hardly cared and there’s an obvious path for them here now, where a generation of players at a certain age profile and level of ability/mentality can make steps up in the same way that clubs like Ilen Rovers and Carbery Rangers made those steps to senior naturally with groups of players.

There’s been plenty talk of Dan Ó Duinnín around Cork and he’s got that athleticism and skillset and mindset to put teams away with scores that any team coming through just must have at club level.

You only needed to see that Corkery sprint forward for his assist to know what he brings and he’s shown moments of influence with Cork already in the national league.

There may be a broader point here that even with more time to work with players in a tactical sense, coaches and managers seem more focused on attacking play than creating elaborate defensive systems.

In that same Premier Intermediate grade Nemo scored five goals and still lost because Macroom scored 4-13.

In the streamed game from Senior A, Larry Tompkins found himself getting excited for the type and standard of football Skibb and St Michael’s were trying to play as much as what they were able to execute — Skibb had scored 4-22 and 0-17 and Michael’s had 3-16 and 2-15 from their opening group matches which was a good indicator of their intentions.

O'Donovan Rossa's Darren Daly scores his goal past St Michael's Martin Burke and Owen O'Sullivan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
O'Donovan Rossa's Darren Daly scores his goal past St Michael's Martin Burke and Owen O'Sullivan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Michael’s had three goals by half-time through their sheer willingness to get runners creating extra men in front of goal.

Skibb had a cracking finish from their full-forward Shannon but it was created by a great kick-pass from Donal Óg Hodnett and it was Hodnett and Kevin Davis again who worked their second goal just with combinations and movement to beat a defender and open up a gap.

3-13 to 2-12 is good scoring and it was in keeping with the overall flow of attack-led football from both sides. If the Premier Senior competition has been slightly less goal-focused overall and high scores have been harder to come by in general — the average score per team last weekend was around 15 points — the main movers have still been the ones capable of racking up the numbers.

Nemo have added Ronan Dalton to an already overflowing attack and even though they only found their attacking rhythm in small bursts, you could see the difference in how easily they created scoring chances and scores compared to Douglas, who lacked that natural ability.

Nemo Rangers Mark Cronin attempts to pull away from Sean Wilson of Douglas. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Nemo Rangers Mark Cronin attempts to pull away from Sean Wilson of Douglas. Picture: Howard Crowdy

And Castlehaven have the most serious assembly of scoring talent, their 4-19 blitz of Ilen was so simple and had that ease of movement of ball and players that comes from having Mark Collins and the Hurleys know each other’s play so well.

Collins hit 2-3, his first goal a result of lovely interplay between himself, Brian Hurley and Michael Hurley to open up the shot and then another worked one-two for his second goal later on.

Newcestown scored 2-12 to beat Carbery Rangers after an earlier 3-17, scores you wouldn’t generally get from them (they had four goals in 11 names from the last three seasons).

We’ll see if this plays out through the knockouts.

For now it’s been entertaining to see teams putting priority on attacking play here.

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