O'Halloran the star in smooth Cork triumph


Cork 0-13 Tipperary 0-6:CORK MANAGER Conor Counihan has a number of injury concerns ahead of next weekend’s Allianz National Football League Division One opener against Armagh.

Daniel Goulding and Ciarán Sheehan are still some way off full fitness with long-term injuries while Paddy Kelly, Colm O’Neill, Donncha O’Connor and Eoin Cadogan are rated as doubtful ahead of the visit to the Morgan Athletic Grounds.

Counihan vowed that he will field his strongest possible team next weekend as Cork begin the defence of their League crown. But his starting line-up may have an unfamiliar look to it. But at a time when his admittedly impressive squad is being stretched so early in the year, he will have one welcome selection headache.

Goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran (25) has been patiently biding his time in recent years behind first choice Alan Quirke.

But O’Halloran, a former All-Ireland U21 medallist, is knocking loudly on Quirke’s door and looks set to give the vastly experienced custodian a run for his money.

O’Halloran staked his claim with an impressive display on a heavy Clonmel Sportsfield yesterday as Cork claimed a first McGrath Cup title since 2009, and sixth in all. In the final 10 minutes, the Bishopstown player pulled off three superb saves to deny Barry Grogan, twice and Peter Acheson as Tipperarry came in search of a consolation goal.

“It’s always competitive and the more competitive positions you have around the field, that’s what you really want,” said Counihan. By half-time, Cork had registered more wides than scores, seven to six, while Tipperary had just one point from play on the board and trailed by 0-3 to 0-6.

Tipperary managed just a further point from play during the second half while Cork kept the scoreboard ticking over and led by eight points, winning by seven.

Grogan finished as top scorer for Tipperary with four converted frees, taking his tally in the McGrath Cup to 4-17 from four outings. But for the first time this year, he was held scoreless from play as Michael Shields put the shackles firmly on the Aherlow man. In front of 915 spectators, Cork finished with scoring contributions from seven players, with Fintan Goold and Paul Kerrigan clipping over seven points between them.

Tipperary manager John Evans said: “Ken O’Halloran made superb saves. He was man of the match from a Cork point of view. It doesn’t mean we’d have won the game if we had got one or two [goals], it just goes to show that we can create chances.”

CORK: K O’Halloran; M Shields, R Carey, K Harrington; C O’Driscoll (0-1), P Kissane, S Kiely; P O’Neill (0-1), M O’Leary (0-1); F Goold (0-3, 0-2 frees), F Lynch (0-1), L Shorten (0-1); S Cahalane (0-1), P Kerrigan (0-4, 0-1 free), P Honohan. Subs: L Connolly for M O’Leary (half-time), A O’Reilly for Harrington (50 mins), J Fitzpatrick for Honohan (53 mins), N O’Leary for Shields (62 mins).

TIPPERARY:M O’Donnell; R Costigan, C McDonald, P Codd; R Kiely, T Ryan, L Egan; B Jones, E Ryan; H Coghlan, S Grogan, P Acheson; C Sweeney (0-1), P Austin (0-1), B Grogan (0-4, all frees). Subs: B Fox for Egan (48 mins), S Carey for S Grogan (48 mins), D Heffernan for Jones (57 mins), S Ryan for Coghlan (61 mins), J O’Callaghan for Kiely (67 mins).

Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).