Since losing to Limerick in the Munster championship, the only goal Cork have conceded is Tony Kelly’s late penalty for Clare in the All-Ireland qualifiers and manager Kieran Kingston paid tribute to the strong defensive effort here again.
Apart from early half-chances, Dublin didn’t sufficiently test Patrick Collins in the Cork goal and the entirety of the Leinster finalists’ starting full-forward line had been replaced by the end. While Kingston knows it’s too early to declare Cork an ultra-mean defence, he’s pleased that things are on the right track.
“I was very happy with them,” he said.
“Dublin put a huge challenge into us, they kept delivering high balls, and that’s something that we’re trying to evolve.
“It’s no secret that this group have been criticised over the last few years for their defending and lack of goalscoring. You’re not going to change that overnight but we’re trying to change it and improve it.
“We’re miles away from the finished article but we’re getting there.”
Coupled with the Clare game, the win gives Cork further momentum, something they harnessed to a degree coming into this clash.
“I think it helped us in the first quarter and the first half,” Kingston said, “but not for the first five minutes – I thought we were amazingly sloppy and I think we could have conceded two goals in the first five minutes. That was disappointing.
“Sometimes, that might bring complacency and the third quarter wouldn’t be as good and we suffered from that today. The other thing you saw was that we were losing a few players coming down the stretch with cramping and hamstrings getting tight.
“We lost a few players with niggly injuries, that’s on the back of a tough game last week that went down to the wire. Credit to Dublin, they were very physical and they kept coming at us, it was a big win for us because that was a very tough game tonight.”