Cork 0-20 Offaly 0-13
CORK pulled away in the second half to get their promotion drive from Division 3 off to a winning start at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening.
Yet, many in the crowd of 2,356 must have been wondering was the losing jinx about to strike again after Offaly made a mockery of the odds to begin impressively.
They led by 0-9 to 0-8 at half-time and were full value for their lead, having kicked five points in a row to lead 0-7 to 0-3 after 23 minutes.
Their inside line of Anton Sullivan, Bernard Allen and Cian Johnson landed 0-7 from play as the visitors availed of too much room from a Cork perspective to finish impressively.
The home side went 14 minutes without a score, after Ciaran Sheehan's exquisite effort from the right, until the Éire Óg bagged a much-needed second and his side's fourth.
That was quickly followed by Sean White's second point before newcomer Cathail O'Mahony landed two more in quick succession, including one from play which was initially waved wide even though it was at least a foot inside the upright.
The period finished in a welter of drama as Cork coach Cian O'Neill was dispatched to the stands at the same time Allen was sent to the sin-bin for a foul on Sean Powter.
The second-half, though, was very different as Cork's substitutes, notably Michael Hurley and John O'Rourke, made telling contributions in a 0-12 to 0-4 scoreline.
Goal chances fell to Cork skipper Ian Maguire, who was twice denied by keeper Paddy Dunican in either half, while home custodian Micheál Aodh Martin frustrated Ruairi McNamee in an important double save midway through the second period.
Cork led 0-14 to 0-11 on the hour, but three points without replay from O'Rourke (2) and a Hurley free stretched the advantage to six and Offaly were never going to reel that in.
Scorers for Cork: M Hurley 0-5 (0-1 f), C Sheehan 0-3 (0-1 f), C O'Mahony 0-3 (0-2 f), S White, J O'Rourke 0-2 each, K Crowley, B Hartnett, R Deane, T Corkery, C O'Callaghan 0-1 each.
Offaly: A Sullivan 0-4, B Allen 0-4 (0-1 f), R McNamee 0-4 (0-2 f), C Johnson 0-1.
CORK: MA Martin (Nemo Rangers); S Powter (Douglas), S Ryan (St Finbarr's), P Ring (Aghabullogue); K Crowley (Millstreet), L O'Donovan (Clonakilty), M Taylor (Mallow); I Maguire (St Finbarr's, c), T Clancy (Clonakilty); B Hartnett (Douglas), S White (Clonakilty), R Deane (Bantry Blues); D Gore (Kilmacabea), C Sheehan (Éire Óg), C O'Mahony (Mitchelstown).
Subs: M Hurley (Castlehaven) for Gore half-time, J O'Rourke (Carbery Rangers) for Clancy 50, C O'Callaghan (Éire Óg) for O'Mahony 55, T Corkery (Cill na Martra) for O'Donovan 58, P Murphy (Bandon) for Sheehan 67.
OFFALY: P Dunican; D Hogan, E Rigney, N Darby (c); E Carroll, D Dempsey, J Hayes; C Mangan, M Brazil; S Horan, R McNamee, C McNamee; A Sullivan, B Allen, C Johnson.
Subs: R McEvoy for C McNamee 16, C Donohue for McEvoy 48, M Abbott for Johnson 55, J Dempsey for Brazil 59, C Donnelly for Horan 63.
Referee: D O'Mahony (Tipperary).