Three talking points from the Cork footballers' win over Westmeath

Rebels avoided relegation with 3-22 with 0-25 success but at what cost?
Three talking points from the Cork footballers' win over Westmeath

Lorcan Dolan of Westmeath has a shot on goal which goes over the bar against Cork in the Páirc on Saturday. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

1. Struggles in defence:

If Westmeath can chalk up 25 points what would the likes of Kerry or Dublin register in similar circumstances? That was one of many questions posed after Cork successfully negotiated a very hazardous 70 plus minutes in perfect conditions.

Cork were down to the bare bones in terms of numbers because of injuries and there was further disruption when Paul Ring cried off and Sean White was introduced in a re-jigged defence at right half-back with Kevin O'Donovan switching to the corner.

Either way, Cork struggled to cope with the pace and trickery of the likes of Ger Egan, John Heslin, Ray Connellan, Ronan O'Toole and Lorcan Dolan, who claimed all bar one of their tally.

Cork conceded 14 in the first half alone and while the rate dropped on the resumption it's still a major source of concern going into the championship.

2. Goals win games:

Ever if a game was going to be decided by goals this was one because quite simply Cork converted their chances while Westmeath blew their opportunities, shooting wildly over the crossbar though they were unlucky to see one effort rebound off the butt of an upright.

Cork had shot blanks against Kildare and Clare, but three second-half scores made all the difference and it was no coincidence that Mark Collins, Brian Hurley and Luke Connolly obliged with Ian Maguire and Kevin O'Donovan providing valuable assists.

The way Connolly and Hurley combined for Collins to score the first after 39 minutes showed all the experience and class of the trio as Cork edged in front 1-14 to 0-15 for the first time since the sixth minute.

The second, after 45 minutes, underlined Maguire's importance to the side as he thundered through the middle before setting up Connolly, whose volleyball style fisted effort opened up a two-point gap.

And the vision showed by Kevin O'Donovan to pick out Hurley for the third goal just after the hour again illustrated the attacking potential.

3. Number of injuries:

Such is the extent of the injuries in the camp that Cork weren't able to have a full allocation of nine substitutes, falling one shy.

It's just as well as the championship semi-final against Limerick or Waterford is not until next month because on top of everything else Cathail O'Mahony, John O'Rourke and Ruairi Deane didn't see out the tie.

O'Mahony suffered what seems like a serious hamstring injury and Cork will want him available because he started the game in whirlwind fashion, scoring Cork's opening three points before pulling up in a race for possession just before the interval.

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