Dublin knock but Conor Dorman has other ideas as Cork squeeze home

Strong finish from Brian Cuthbert’s men denies visitors in fast, entertaining match

Dublin’s John Small tries to block John O’Rourke’s kick as Cork got their Allianz League campaign off to a winning start at Páirc Uí Rinn. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Dublin’s John Small tries to block John O’Rourke’s kick as Cork got their Allianz League campaign off to a winning start at Páirc Uí Rinn. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Cork 1-15 Dublin 0-16 When August comes, Dublin and Cork will expect to be busy. And this open, entertaining Allianz league game between two of the most potent attacking teams in Gaelic football will be remembered for what it was: shadow-boxing on an icy beginning to February.

Cork trotted off the field content that last year’s nightmares have been left just there and also that they managed to preserve Dublin’s miserable losing streak in the Rebel County dating back to 1990. But this Dublin team sent out by Jim Gavin had a look of open auditions about it and his inexperienced side was still in the hunt for a draw or better when the whistle went. So it was one of those inconsequential league Sundays when both managers seemed relatively happy.

“How much do you read into games like this?” said Cork’s Brian Cuthbert.

“Dublin came down here minus 10 players. We are missing five of our main players. You can read what you want into this game but there is complete belief from our management and our team that this week, we try and go and win this game. Next week it is something else. I suppose when Dublin came at us in the second half, it could have been a three or four-point win for them and we would have been disillusioned at the fact that they came down here missing players and we got no victory . But in the last 20 minutes, we were in control.”

That was an accurate synopsis. A terrific strike on the run by Dean Rock left the visitors by 0-15 to 1-13 to the good after 52 minutes, even as Dublin began to run their bench, withdrawing seasoned operators like Denis Bastick and Jonny Cooper. Those changes coincided with Cork’s most convincing period and they worked their way back into contention through two frees from the excellent Colm O’Neill and then a thrilling 60th minute score by Mark Collins after Paul Kerrigan attacked from deep.

In keeping with recent league meetings between these counties, this match was open and played at a hyper-athletic pace. Cork had the courage to press up on the Dublin half-back line in the second half and slowed the supply of ball into the visitors’ inside line.

Bursting forward

Eoin CadoganConor Dorman

Dublin have given enough shock-and-awe performances in the league to have learned the limitations of their use and Gavin agreed that giving game time to his panel members will be a critical part of their programme this winter.

“The biggest positive was that we had a group of players who haven’t a lot of experience and they put themselves in a position to win the game. There are technical areas that need to be brushed up on but they have tasted it now and that is a big positive for me. At that stage Cork were beginning to come back into it, but we have a squad of players who need to experience what elite football is about and no better place to put them in than against Cork.”

Given the relentless end-to-end nature of the game and the quality of forwards on view, it was a surprise that only one goal was scored. It originated in a mishit shot from Fintan Goold which travelled like a bullet to Colm O’Neill on the edge of the square. His swift transfer to John O’Rourke brought about a blocked shot that Jamie O’Sullivan managed to scramble over the line.

The goal offered Cork a perfect instruction of what could happen when they moved the ball fast into O’Neill and Brian Hurley, both of whom were portraits in frustration in that first half.

O’Neill was given his first chance to shine in the 27th minute and promptly curled a point which reminded the public of his limitless potential at corner forward. But for long periods of that half, both of Cork’s front men were spectators and the home team were content to shoot from distance, with John O’Rourke and Goold landing exceptional strikes.

Cork led by 1-07 to 0-9 at the break, which must have caused mild bafflement amongst the Dublin statisticians.

Ran the show

They pressured the Cork kick out and might have nicked a goal after Brady pressed hard and forced a quick pass, which Rock picked off to draw a decent save from Ken O’Halloran with a low, right footed shot.

“It was important to us to be in game at half time,” Cuthbert acknowledged.

“I felt for the last 15 minutes that there was only one team in it. In the first half we gave them too much space. Eoghan O’Gara got a point just before half time when we had plenty of bodies there but no pressure on the kick. I felt we rectified and Dublin had to rush a lot of their shots.”

In the 44th minute, Dublin could have profited after more good work from Brady, closing down the Cork kick out, set O’Gara free: his lobbed handpass to Costello was cut out by O’Halloran. A goal at that point and Cork might have buckled but they warmed to the task and, after a year when nothing went right, got their new season off to a bright start. CORK: K O’Halloran; T Clancy, E Cadogan (0-1), J Loughrey; C Dorman (0-2), B O’Driscoll, J O’Sullivan (1-0); F Goold (0-1), I Maguire; M Collins (0-1), J O’Rourke (0-2), C O’Driscoll; C O’Neill (0-5, 0-4 frees), D Og Hodnett, B Hurley (0-3, 0- 1 free). Subs: P Kerrigan for J O’Sullivan (half-time), J Hayes for Hodnett (46 mins), L Connolly for C O’Driscoll (66 mins), I Maguire for K O’Driscoll (69 mins). DUBLIN: S Currie; E Culligan, Rory O’Carroll, D Daly; J Cooper, J Small, J McCaffrey; D Bastick, S Carthy (0-1); T Brady (0-1), D Rock (0-8, 0-4 frees), E O’Conghaile; K McManamon (0-2), E O’Gara (0-2), C Costello (0-1). Subs: D Byrne for E O’Conghaille (half-time), B Fenton for D Bastick (45 mins), C Reddin for S McCarthy (55 mins), C McHugh for C Costello (57 mins), E Lowndes for J Cooper (58 mins), M Deegan (0-1) for E O’Gara (68 mins). Referee: R Hickey (Clare).

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