TO the untrained eye it seemed the Cork footballers' defence was easily penetrated by Offaly’s inside line, in particular during the first-half at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night.
The midlanders nailed five points without response as full-forward Bernard Allen profited with three on the spin to help his side move 0-7 to 0-3 ahead after 23 minutes.
It looked a big worry, but Cork coach Ronan McCarthy explained afterwards that the trouble had its roots further up-field.
“Where we created our own problems was we turned the ball over attacking on the 45 and then we got caught open on the counter-attack.
“We were definitely open when they hit us on the counter, but when the defence was set and in place, we defended well. Keeping the ball there is paramount.”
“I actually felt that, early on in the first half, when we were set we turned them over three times, Powter got to double-team, we turned them over and we got the ball,” McCarthy said.
The Douglas speedster, along with another returning player, Sam Ryan, and rookie Paul Ring, formed part of a new-look full-back line.
For Powter and Ryan in particular, that both got 70 minutes plus was a major boost for Cork going forward.
“It was brilliant to see Seán Powter back and playing the full game, Sam Ryan too, because they’ve had long roads back from injuries.”
Cork’s bench helped strengthen their grip on the second-half with Michael Hurley, John O’Rourke, Colm O’Callaghan and Tadhg Corkery contributing 0-9.
“Michael is great at that. He will always come in and inject pace to the attack. At times he is almost unplayable because he is so quick on his feet.
“Michael did impact the game immediately when he came on, as did a lot of the subs, and that’s a positive.”
Cork didn’t show enough composure in the first-half, when running into massed ranks of Offaly players guarding their own patch.
“It’s an issue for us, because we tried to go from back to front too quickly. Offaly had all 14 players behind the 65m line early in the second-half, but that didn’t mean we had to force out shots.
“It’s a balance with being patient with the ball, keep probing and looking for openings.
“I thought we got that balance better in the second-half, where, I thought, we carried the ball into too much trouble in the first.
“That allowed Offaly turn us over and they were able to pick us off from their turn-overs.”
Ciaran Sheehan was given a rousing reception by the crowd, when replaced near the end after scoring 0-3.