Cork 2-26 Dublin 0-24
THE Cork senior hurlers rounded off an excellent July for sport in the county as a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals was achieved with a win over Dublin in Saturday night’s quarter-final in Thurles.
Since the Munster semi-final loss to Limerick at the same venue four weeks previously, the county’s senior, U20 and minor sides have each won twice, while the 2020 U20s claimed the All-Ireland title. However, while Kieran Kingston’s side led by eight points at half-time and enjoyed a nine-point advantage at more than one stage in the second half, the lead had been cut to four points, 2-22 to 0-24, with five minutes of normal time left.
The Rebels were settled when a foul on Jack O’Connor allowed Patrick Horgan to score his 11th point of the contest and they saw out the game to book a last-four tussle with Leinster champions Kilkenny on Sunday, August 8. Having won consecutive knockout championship games for the first time since 2015, Cork will now be looking for a first victory at headquarters since the 2013 semi-final against Dublin.
They will move forward with some level of encouragement while knowing that there were more lapses here than will be allowed if the season is to extend to the decider.
For much of the first half, Dublin made life difficult for Cork but the Rebels still enjoyed a half-time lead of 2-13 to 0-11, buttressed in injury time as Shane Kingston found the net for the third consecutive championship game.
While a pair of Donal Burke frees gave Dublin an early lead and Cork goalkeeper Patrick Collins had to smother a loose ball to deny Conor Burke a goal half-chance, there were signs that the Leinster side’s shooting wasn’t at the level needed if they were to win.
Cork had the lead by the ninth minute as the ever-industrious Conor Cahalane’s run was the catalyst for Jack O’Connor to make it 0-4 to 0-3 and a goal almost followed immediately. Luke Meade, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Tim O’Mahony combined to give Robbie O’Flynn an opportunity but Alan Nolan pulled off a great save and Cian O’Callaghan cleared.
After Dublin responded to move 0-6 to 0-5 in front, O’Connor had another sight of pace as he used his blistering pace to good effect but his effort from a tight angle hit the butt of the near post and bounced wide.
Nevertheless, a Patrick Horgan free – after he had been fouled upon winning a sideline cut from Mark Coleman, who was able to direct operations at the back – levelled and Cork moved into a lead that would never be relinquished as O’Flynn’s pass allowed O’Mahony to gallop goalward from deep, firing a superb shot past Nolan. Burke’s 65 brought Dublin back to within two, 1-6 to 0-7, at the water-break, but Cork had the momentum and a four-point burst – three Horgan frees and an O’Connor point, with a poor Burke free sent wide in the mist of that – left it 1-10 to 0-8.
The same margin pertained as normal time expired, Cork 1-13 to 0-11 to the good, and that was solidified with the second goal. O’Flynn, having claimed a puckout, was the architect as he run at the Dublin defence and though his ball across couldn’t be reached by Horgan, Kingston was there to sent a ground stroke to the net.
Dublin began the second half as they did the first, with a pair of points, this time Conor Burke and Cian Boland the scorers, but they were cancelled out as Harnedy got his fourth from play and then set up O’Mahony for a well-taken effort.
They were nine clear in the 42nd minute as a Horgan free brought him to seven points for the evening. Burke was doing his best to keep Dublin in it – some sloppy Cork play in defence also helped – and they were back to within seven, 2-18 to 0-17, after points from him and Cian O’Sullivan.
Cork never looked fazed, however, and a lovely move that saw O’Mahony pick out Horgan with a superb diagonal pass – a goal might have been on but the angle was just too tight – and then O’Connor got his third.
It was a seven-point game again by the water-break, 2-20 to 0-19, following points from Danny Sutcliffe and Burke, and Conor Burke cut that to six. Horgan and sub Shane Barrett gave breathing space again and Cork engaged in the seeming luxury of bringing off the excellent Seán O’Donoghue as he had been booked, but Dublin had four in a row, from Riain McBride, sub Jake Malone, Donal Burke and Sutcliffe.
All of a sudden, there was a contagion of concern among the sizeable Cork support in the crowd of 4,400, but they were eased as Horgan extended the lead to five again and corner-back Niall O’Leary forced a turnover to add a point before another sub, Alan Connolly, also got in on the act, before Horgan rounded off the night to finish with a dozen points.