Cork 4-25 Offaly 1-15
Cork continued their excellent start to the National Hurling League as they ran riot against a beleaguered Offaly in Birr on Sunday afternoon.
With two wins under their belt, last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists have hit the ground running and they played some top quality hurling here.
With Offaly jumping to Division 1 out of hurling’s third tier - the Christy Ring Cup - Cork fully expected a comfortable win here. They achieved that and with interest but it is the quality of their hurling that will be delighting them at the moment; the power, pace and understanding that they are playing with.
They are a very smooth moving machine at the moment and while much tougher tests lie ahead of them this season, they are playing with great confidence. The Birr pitch was heavy but Cork simply flew through it and they had this game in the bag after just eleven minutes.
Playing with the wind on their backs, Cork came tearing out of the blocks and a shellshocked Offaly didn't know what hit them as the visitors rattled in 3-5 in 11 sensational minutes. A stunned Offaly were left chasing shadows as Shane Kingston and man of the match Darragh Fitzgibbon got quick fire goals in the opening two minutes. Robbie O'Flynn had one disallowed for overcarrying before Conor Lehane got their third in the 11th minute for a 3-5 to 0-2 lead.
Every time Cork attacked, they looked like breaching an under siege Offaly defence. They led by 3-8 to 0-3 after nineteen minutes and Offaly did improve in the second quarter. They upped their work rate, made fewer mistakes and played with more intensity. They got three points on the trot before Cork finished the half well and a 3-12 to 0-8 half time score meant that Offaly could not rescue this one.
Cork continued to control affairs in the second half. Their passing, pace and general hurling was in a different ball park and they had extended their lead to 3-16 to 0-10 by the 45th minute. Offaly to their credit did try hard but the extent of the jump they have made from Division 2A to Division 1 was painfully obvious to everyone in St Brendan’s Park.
Cork could have got more goals, hitting the woodwork twice through Conor Cahalane and Jack O'Connor. The brilliant Shane Kingston got their fourth goal in the 63rd minute and a super 66th minute goal from Eoghan Cahill was not much consolation to a badly beaten Offaly.
Cork: P Collins; N O'Leary, D Cahalane, S O'Donoghue; T O'Mahony (0-1), M Coleman (0-4, 4f), C O'Brien; D Fitzgibbon (1-2), L Meade (0-1); C Cahalane (0-1), S Harnedy, R O'Flynn (0-2); S Kingston (2-8, 6f), M Keane (0-1), C Lehane (1-2).
Subs: S O'Leary Hayes for O'Leary (half-time), P Horgan (0-1) for O'Flynn (half-time), T O'Connell for Harnedy (46 mins), J O'Connor for Lehane (50 mins), S Quirke (0-1) for Fitzgibbon (58 mins), C O'Brien (0-1) for Cahalane (60 mins).
Offaly: C Clancy; J Keenaghan, C Burke, J Screeney; D King, B Conneely (0-1), K Sampson; E Kelly, L Fox; B Duignan (0-1), L Langton, E Cahill (1-9, 8f); J Murphy (0-2), J Sampson (0-1), D Nally.
Subs: L O'Connor (0-1) for Nally (half-time), P Delaney for Screeney (half-time), E Parlon for Duignan (51 mins), A Cleary for Langton (53 mins), P Clancy for Fox (64 mins).
Referee: S Stack (Dublin).