Cunningham hails Dubs turnaround after Cork put to the sword
Dublin 2-19 Cork 1-14
Few could have predicted an eight-point win for Dublin over Cork in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening, especially given how the counties had begun their Division 1A campaigns.
While Cork sent out what looked like a signal of progress against Clare, Dublin shipped a 1-24 to 1-8 loss against All-Ireland champions Tipperary.
The expectation was that those trends would continue, but instead the 6,214 present witnessed an excellent display from the visitors to give them the points.
Though Cork scored four of the game's first five points, Dublin replied with an unanswered 1-8 to put them firmly in control - Cork wouldn't come within three points thereafter.
For Dublin manager Ger Cunningham, it was the perfect way to bounce back.
"When you have a 16-point defeat, you have to look at it in the cold light of day," he said.
"We played the All-Ireland champions last week and showed them too much respect. We had a week to show that the performance wasn't what we're about.
"Our attitude was right and our work rate was spot-on. It showed tonight what we've seen with regard to some of the young fellas who came in and did really well."
His opposite number, and former Cork team-mate and management colleague, Kieran Kingston had expected a Dublin onslaught, but that wasn't enough to prevent it.
"We're obviously very disappointed," he said.
"This was always going to be a tough game for us. Dublin were always going to rebound from the Tipperary game and we had spoken about that during the week. They were very hungry out there and we couldn't match it.
"There was too much written about us after Clare and there may be the same after this. We are somewhere in between and we know we have a huge amount of work to do."
Donal Burke scored eight points for Dublin, who moved 1-2 to 0-4 in front when Ryan O'Dwyer netted in the 15th minute. However, 1-2 from Shane Kingston had Cork trailing by just four, 1-11 to 1-7, at half-time - an Anthony Nash penalty save from Burke keeping the score down.
A second Dublin goal, from Eoghan Conroy, put the game beyond Cork's reach in the second period. Not even the sending-off of Chris Crummey for a second yellow card could derail Dublin's progress, with Eoghan O'Donnell outstanding in defence.
With next week off, Dublin look ahead to a home clash with Waterford on March 4, while Cork visit Kilkenny the following day.
Cunningham is happy with how his youngsters are improving.
"We have every faith in the guys we brought in. We were missing eight or 10 fellas who we couldn't pick from, so these guys have come in and they're working really hard," he said.
"The guys that have come in, they're making huge sacrifices and they're working hard to put their hand up for selection."
Scorers - Dublin: D Burke 0-8 (4f, 1 65), E Conroy 1-2, R O'Dwyer 1-1, R McBride 0-2 each, C Crummey, E Dillon, C Bennett, C Conway, C O'Sullivan, F Mac Gib 0-1 each.
Cork: P Horgan 0-7 (5f, 1 65), S Kingston 1-2, L Meade 0-2, M Coleman (f), A Cadogan, C Lehane 0-1 each.
DUBLIN - C Dooley; J Madden, E O'Donnell, S Barrett; B Quinn, L Rushe, C Crummey; C Conway, N McMorrow; E Conroy, R McBride, E Dillon; F Mac Gib, R O'Dwyer, D Burke. Subs: C Bennett for Quinn (49), C McGowan for Conway (59), C O'Sullivan for O'Dwyer (63), F Whitely for Dillon (67)
CORK - A Nash; K Burke, D Griffin, C Spillane; C Joyce, M Ellis, M Coleman; B Cooper, D Kearney; L Meade, S Kingston, D Fitzgibbon; A Cadogan, P Horgan, S Harnedy. Subs: D Cahalane for Spillane (25, injured), S McDonnell for Griffin (half-time), C Lehane for Fitzgibbon (45), P Haughney for Kearney (50),
Ref - S Cleere (Kilkenny).