Cork 3-16 Dublin 1-14
Twelve minutes gone and this game was seemingly over. Bookies prepared for an early pay-out, the Cork bus was warming up and hacks were tempting with the idea faxing copy in early. Dublin led 1-6 to 0-0.
From there on in, Cork took the opportunity to put that silly notion - Cork is hurling country - to bed. Their fans joined the case.
Every possession, tackle and score was met with a crescendo of delirium and by the time the half-time whistle sounded, Cork’s fans had lost their minds - and for all the right reasons.
For their side had mounted the mother of all comebacks to lead by two - 3-6 to 1-10. Wanting his side to soak in just want this title meant to the denizens on Leeside, Cork manager Keith Ricken kept his side on the pitch for a few seconds before eventually breaking up the huddle to head for the dressing room, all to a backdrop of rapturous Cork fervour.
Somehow Cork had crawled out of a hole to loom over their adversaries. Ricken was less than surprised.
“What were we going to do?” questioned Ricken among a horde of Rebel supporters. “Crawl into a corner? There was no corner here. It was either man-up or die. They took at it and they made their decisions and they stuck with it.
“I’m not going to say this group is a special group because they’re not. These are ordinary boys that have bought into this system. They’re a great credit to this generation. They’re resilient, they’re tough, they soak up all the information you give them and they will apply it as best they can.
“All year people from all over Cork have been following them and there’s a reason for that - because they offer hope.”
During a six-minute spell, just after Ciarán Archer intercepted a stray Cork kick-out to push his side into that early nine-point lead, Cork produced three goals - one a daisy-cutting volley from Blake Murphy, one deriving from a lost cause when Mark Cronin collected a ball drifting harmlessly wide before crashing the ball home and a third a sensational strike from Colm O'Callaghan. Now, the wise money was being wagered on the Rebels.
Coming into the game Archer was the player with the budding reputation. Having scored 9-30 in his appearances to date, more than the rest of the Dublin team combined, he was always going to require specific attention from whichever Cork defender was assigned the task of keeping an eye on him. As it happened, it was Maurice Shanley and though he stuck to him with all the stickiness of industrial strength velcro, the wiry St Maurs man still found space to wreak havoc.
He finished the day with 1-5 to his name but it wasn't enough when, at the other end, Cork forwards were pointing for fun: Damien Gore scored three on the bounce during the second half to bring his overall tally to four, Cathal O'Mahony scored four, while Cronin and Murphy scored a brace each, every bisection of the posts blowing dents out of the O'Moore stand roof. Who said Cork don't love football?
“We were able to get through them in the second half but the last third was probably just a bit off with the decisions they were making,” explained Dublin manager Tom Gray, dissecting his side’s performance. “We created 11 chances in the second half. Cork were just the better team on the day and we just have to accept that we weren’t at our best. But I have immense pride at the same time.”
While the Rebels fed off the energy in the stands, Dublin could only manage four second half points and by the time Karl Lynch Bissett was sent to the stands the Leinster champions' destiny had already been decided.
Out of the doldrums Cork have emerged and the sea of Red on the pitch at full-time proved the people of Cork have buckled up. For this could just be the beginning of the ride.
Dublin: David O'Hanlon; Darren Maher, Daire Newcombe, Eoin O'Dea; Kieran Kennedy, Neil Matthews, Seán Lambe; Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne, Donal Ryan (0-1); Niall O'Leary, James Doran (0-2), Karl Lynch Bissett; Brian O'Leary (0-3), Ciarán Archer (1-5, 0-3 frees), Ross McGarry (0-2, 0-1 free). Subs: David Lacey (0-1) for N O'Leary (38 mins), Harry Ladd for Ó Cofaigh Byrne (43 mins, black-card), Aaron Lynch for Maher (53 mins). Yellow cards: Karl Lynch Bissett (27 mins), Niall O'Leary (33 mins). Red cards: Karl Lynch Bissett (52 mins).
Cork: Josh O'Keefe; Michael Mahoney, Maurice Shanley, Paul Ring; Gearóid O'Donovan; Seán Meehan; Peter O'Driscoll; Brian Hartnett, Daniel O'Connell (0-1); Colm Barrett, Blake Murphy (1-2), Colm O'Callaghan (1-0); Mark Cronin (1-3, 0-2 frees), Cathal O'Mahony (0-4, 0-3 frees), Damien Gore (0-4). Subs: Jack Murphy (0-1) for Barrett (38 mins), Mark Hodnett for O'Callaghan (40 mins), Fionn Herlihy (0-1) for Murphy (46 mins), Jack McCarthy for O'Donovan (57 mins), Shane Hickey for Ring (60+2 mins). Éanna O'Hanlon for Gore (60+3 mins). Yellow cards: Maurice Shanley (50 mins).
Referee: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary)