Late Dublin blitz sees off spirited Cork challenge
Rebels ask a few questions but flurry of goals allows champions to cruise to victory
Dublin’s Paul Mannion takes on Cork’s James Loughrey during their Super 8s meeting at Croke Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Dublin 5-18 Cork 1-17
There is usually some lingering doubt about a result that’s not properly decided until the last 10 minutes of a game, only not necessarily this one. Especially given the terrifying ease with which Dublin ultimately sealed it.
Even without being super convincing, the end result was perfectly telling – a game Dublin never looked like losing, as much as Cork never looked like winning. Even accounting for the opening hour of play in balmy Croke Park on Saturday evening, when Cork were certainly still in the game, it was all softly futile against the All-Ireland champions.
Dublin’s fifth goal came with four minutes of normal time to play, getting their Super 8s campaign up and winning in ominously familiar fashion. Dublin did all they needed to do, and while Cork pressed them hard early on and asked a few questions, Dublin still came up with the simple answer in the form of three smashing goals in the last 10 minutes.
Finishing with 11 different scorers, including five different goalscorers, Dublin simply resisted all of Cork’s efforts. Ronan McCarthy’s team were well drilled and actually set the pace for the opening quarter, only to left utterly undone by Dublin’s final blitz.
First came Niall Scully’s thundering shot on 62 minutes to close out the game as a contest, Jack McCaffrey playing the ball to Con O’Callaghan, who deftly found Scully in the right place at the right time.
Cork then gifted Dublin their fourth goal four minutes later, Mark White’s short kick-out simply intercepted by substitute Paddy Small, who passed off to Ciarán Kilkenny who made no mistake.
Moments later Brian Fenton added Dublin’s fifth with another terrific finish, McCaffrey again providing the ball in what was another splendid evening of football for the flying doctor from Clontarf.
It all felt harsh on Cork given the effort they had made to keep in touch with the champions, but with a two-goal advantage at the break, Dublin were never under proper threat, out-scoring Cork 3-3 to 0-3 in the last 15 minutes.
Dean Rock came off the bench to contribute 0-5, three frees and one 45, missing nothing. O’Callaghan also banged over four from play and Philly McMahon added two from defence. James McCarthy and Jonny Cooper also came on late, both clearly over their injuries.
Still on 44 minutes Cork were still in the game thanks to a brilliant penalty strike from Luke Connolly, after Ian Maguire was dragged down in front of the Dublin goal, Cian O’Sullivan the main culprit. That closed the gap to two points again, 2-10 to 1-11, the sense maybe that Cork were getting going again.
It didn’t last, Rock making his presence felt, McMahon popping over the second point, and Cork were instead feeling the squeeze again. Their shooting also went a little astray, having started brighter and more effectively, scoring six excellent points from their opening six attacks. At one point they had a four-point cushion, 0-5 to 0-1, Kevin O’Driscoll, Paul Kerrigan and Ruairí Deane showing them they way.
Dublin’s response came with two first-half goals – a neat moment of magic from McCaffrey on 10 minutes, then a slam-dunk from Michael Darragh Macauley in the two minutes of injury time, leaving Dublin 2-9 to 0-9 in front at the break.
Cork, the defeated Munster finalists, scored 10 goals in their last three matches – including four against Laois last weekend. Brian Hurley, imaginative throughout, had a one-on-one goal chance in front of Stephen Cluxton on 28 minutes, only for Cluxton to make the smart block with the feet; had that slipped in Cork would have gone back in front. Still, points from Hurley and another from Kerrigan kept them within a goal. All six forwards had scored by the 30th minute.
Taylor had another Cork goal chance on 41 minutes, only for Cluxton to get the block on that too. Cork did ask some questions of the Dublin defence, just not enough of them. Dublin’s late hat-trick of goals brings their tally to 11 in four games.
Jim Gavin emptied his bench with Rock making a big claim for starting position the next day, when Dublin roll back into Croke Park next Saturday to host Roscommon, their Super-8s campaign already up and losing, defeated by Tyrone by five points.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton (capt); D Byrne, M Fitzsimons, P McMahon (0-2); J McCaffrey (1-0), C O’Sullivan, J Small (0-1); B Fenton (1-1), M D Macauley (1-0); N Scully (1-0), C Kilkenny (1-2), B Howard; C Costello (0-1), P Mannion (0-2), C O’Callaghan (0-4).
Subs: D Rock (0-5, three frees, one 45) for Costello (44 mins), P Small for O’Calllaghan (64 mins), J Cooper for O’Sullivan, K McManamon for Mannion (both 67 mins), E Murchan for McCaffrey (68 mins), J McCarthy for Fenton (72 mins)
Yellow cards: C O’Sullivan (44 mins)
CORK: M White; J Loughrey, T Clancy, K Flahive; L O’Donovan (0-1), T Clancy, M Taylor (0-1); I Maguire (capt), K O’Driscoll (0-1); P Kerrigan (0-3), S White (0-1), R Deane (0-1); M Collins (0-1, a free), B Hurley (0-3, one free), L Connolly (1-3, a penalty, one 45).
Subs: M Hurley (0-2) for Kerrigan, K O’Donovan for Loughrey (both 56 minutes), R O’Toole for White (63 mins), S Sherlock for Collins (64 mins), C Kelly for L O’Donovan (65 mins), J O’Rourke for Maguire (68 mins)
Yellow cards: M Taylor (17 mins), M Collins (28 mins), S White (61 mins)
Referee: David Gough (Meath)