Midfield the key to Cork victory

 

SUSPENDED Cavan manager Martin McHugh could claim that he remained technically "out of bounds" and did not transgress the rules by taking up an influential position on the roof of the stand for the National Football League clash at Pairc Ui Rinn yesterday.

The irony was, however, that despite occupying the most strategic viewing area of all, his walkietalkie words of wisdom seemed to literally go over the heads of his players at ground level.

Nothing was done to counteract Cork's dominance in midfield when the opportunity was presented just 20 minutes into the game with the dubious dismissal of Cork's Colin Corkery.

But then, McHugh is as resigned to the difficulties of playing against 14 men as any other manager. He felt that Cavan lost "their shape" after Corkery was sent off for two bookable offences. The tall Corkman had reacted to what seemed to be total provocation from a Cavan defender to earn the ultimate sanction.

Referee Brian White of Wexford had a busy time for, apart from having to consult an umpire in the Corkery Michael Reilly "war" he was obliged to book seven players.

Cork's midfield dominance, inspired by Damien O'Neill had been in evidence before and after Corkery's long walk out of the winners' attack.

Whereas Cork hand passed about with confidence and worked hard to create space and numbers, Cavan struggled and never attained the same degree of composure.

Manager Larry Tompkins has surely attained his first ambition in steering his side to the top of the Division One table in Cork's first appearance in the Division in six years. His side moved which a slickness that had to be admired - players were so easily found despite the disparity in numbers.

Allowing for 10 wides he has still cause to be optimistic for an attack possessing a potent left flank duo in Aidan Dorgan and Ciaran O'Sullivan who shared 10 of the winning points.

The diminutive Dorgan is especially accurate. He kicked his five points with real panache from play. Two of his most inspiring efforts came at the start of each half, a point after 19 seconds in the first half matched by another 30 seconds into the second.

The Grenagh player's opening point best demonstrated Cork's ability to hold possession cleverly with five passes put together before the score without Cavan man touching the ball.

Brian Corcoran was guilty of the worst of Cork's wides after racing hand to toe for 50 yards but still emerged as an inspiring attack leader.

Cavan were seen in disarray from the start. The failure of either Stephen King or Terry Farrelly - later replaced - to get some sort of grip crucially militated against their prospects.

They finally opened their account in the eighth minute with a Dermot McCabe point and got to parity at 0-3 chiefly because of four dreadful Cork wides. Corkery perhaps demonstrated that it was not going to be a good day for him anyway by "topping" a 45 and shooting two untypical wides.

When he was sent to the line Cavan gave Gerry Sheridan the extra man role in defence completely ignoring the value of a third midfielder when they so desperately needed one.

Aidan Connolly did marginally better when running loose subsequently but the dangers presented for Cavan's defensive resources became even more ominous after Cork full forward Pat Hegarty took up a roving role.

Cork's performance certainly pleased their supporters in the huge crowd, with Mark O'Connor and Niall Cahalane excelling in their defensive roles.