Cork shoot down Dublin as Colm O’Neill shines on return

Rebels make it three wins from three in Division 1 of the Allianz Football League

Michael Darragh McAuley of Dublin battles for possession with Eoin Cadogan of Cork. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Michael Darragh McAuley of Dublin battles for possession with Eoin Cadogan of Cork. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Dublin 0-18 Cork 1-17

Cork condemned Dublin to their first defeat in 12 months with a 1-17 to 0-18 victory in Croke Park tonight, coming out best in a rip-roaring game. An exhibition of free-taking from Daniel Goulding and a sparkling first half from John Hayes helped lodge a total in the bank that a profligate Dublin just didn’t have the deposits to match.

The shining light of the evening though was the reappearance of Colm O’Neill, freshly-recovered from his third cruciate injury. He scored with his first possession and followed it up with another gutsy score at the death. “I’m just so thrilled for him,” said Cork manager Brian Cuthbert afterwards. “After what he’s been through, he won us the game.”

This was a cracking game. Even allowing for the cascade of high-scoring matches that have been such a feature of the spring, this one ticked along at a startling rate from the off. The crowd of 19,626 was treated to an opening period that went score for score for the first 17 minutes and barely let up thereafter.

Hayes had three points on the board inside the first 12 minutes. Cormac Costello matched him. both sides could have had goals by then but first Hayes on the Cork side and then Ciaran Kilkenny and Kevin McManamon for Dublin all fisted points with the goal at their mercy.

Dublin were the first to kick into a lead when Costello, Kilkenny and McManamon pushed them 0-7 to 0-3 clear but Goulding’s frees kept Cork relevant. Three in four minutes were as good as will be scored in Croke Park all year, his third one struck from under the Hogan Stand into the Canal End especially sweet.

With the sides level at 0-9 apiece in the 25th minute, Cork struck for the night’s only goal. Brian Hurley had fluffed a great chance a minute earlier, dithering over his shot and giving Stephen Cluxton a chance to make a fine save. But when Hayes was put through by a smart Mark Collins pass, he wasn’t about to make the same mistake and his shot pinged into the top corner.

While the sides traded points from there to the break, that goal kept Cork a step or two out in the distance. They led 1-11 to 0-12 at half-time and although Costello reduced the margin to one straight away, Cork scored the next three in a row. Goulding was key again, spearing his best free of the night from the Cusack Stand sideline with a pure strike across the ball. Rising star Donal Óg Hodnett chipped in with one of his own and all of a sudden, Cork were four points clear.

It meant that with 25 minutes to go, two young sides were facing an endgame that would tell them plenty about themselves. Six of the Cork side had never played in Croke Park before and for the next 15 minutes they looked as if they were just realising the fact.

Dublin inched their way back to parity with scores from McManamon, Cluxton (a 45), Kilkenny and substitute Paul Hudson, with a rampant Jack McCaffrey having a hand in three of the four. It left the sides level with 10 minutes to go.

To Cork’s credit, they grabbed their chance just when it looked to be slipping away from them. O’Neill came off the bench and as soon as the ball went in his direction he caught, turned and split the posts. His team hadn’t scored in 18 minutes and without it, they were most likely going home empty handed. Dublin sub Shane Carthy equalised from distance soon after and it was anyone’s from there.

It very easily could have been Dublin’s but they kicked it away. Eight second half wides killed them, especially late ones from Kilkenny, Hudson, Philly McMahon and McCarthy. They had enough possession in areas that were plenty good enough but lost their way in front of the posts.

It left the door open for Cork. First Hodnett walked through it, followed by O’Neill. After everything he’s been through, it would have taken the most churlish Dub to begrudge him it.

Dublin: 1 S Cluxton (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45); 2 P McMahon, 3 S George, 4 M Fitzsimons; 5 E Lowndes, 6 J McCarthy (0-1), 7 J Cooper; 8 C O’Sullivan, 9 MD Macauley; 19 D Byrne, 11 C Kilkenny (0-3, 0-1 free), 12 B Cullen; 13 K McManamon (0-3), 14 C Reddin (0-2), 15 C Costello (0-4, 0-1 free). Subs: 22 J McCaffrey for George, 23 mins; 23 D Nelson for Lowndes, half-time; 25 E O’Gara for Byrne, 47 mins; 21 P Hudson (0-1) for Costello, 52 mins; 20 S Carthy (0-1) for Reddin, 63 mins

Cork: K O’Halloran; 2 A Cronin, 3 E Cadogan, 4 N Galvin; 5 J Loughrey, 6 C Dorman, 7 T Clancy; 8 A Walsh, 9 F Goold (0-1); 10 J O’Rourke, 11 P Kerrigan (0-1), 12 M Collins; 13 D Goulding (0-7, all frees), 14 B Hurley (0-1), 15 J Hayes (1-3). Subs: K Crowley for Dorman, 24 mins; D Óg Hodnett (0-2) for Galvin, half-time; 24 C O’Neill (0-2) for Hayes, 50 mins; 21 R Deane for Walsh, 54 mins; 20 A O’Sullivan for Goold, 58 mins; K O’Driscoll for Loughrey, 70 mins

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh)

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