Deadly duo help Daly's Dublin to bridge 65-year gap
A tour de force from forwards David O'Callaghan and Paul Ryan fired Dublin into the final of the Allianz Hurling League for the first time since 1946 as they prevailed by a point against Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday.
Scoring 1-14 of a total of 1-15, the pair were very dangerous in a two-man full-forward line, with Daire Plunkett providing a valuable extra man around the middle.
Dublin should have had this game in the bag long before the end though with only some bad wides from the visitors keeping Cork in it.
"It was a funny old game really," said manager Anthony Daly. "Cork had a lot of chances, we had a lot of chances in the second half and kept missing them, they missed a fair bit in the first half.
"It was topsy-turvy, but we're thrilled to be in the final; 1946 is a long time, so you can see what it means to the die-hards, they've been following us everywhere without success, so I'm delighted for them."
The first half was even overall, but Cork suffered when losing midfielder Pa Cronin to injury, while Dublin's relocation of Plunkett paid dividends.
Four scores in a row from Dublin, two each from the front two, one a free, had them 0-5 to 0-4 ahead by the 23rd minute as Cork's wides tally began to mount worryingly.
With Niall McCarthy finding form as he sent over two fine efforts and John Gardiner adding a third, Cork turned it around to lead by 0-9 to 0-7 as half-time approached -- but Ryan's fourth point left just a point in it at the turnaround.
Cork edged further clear before a pivotal moment, as Plunkett dispossessed William Egan inside the '45' and fed Ryan, and while Donal Og Cusack got a touch to his shot, he couldn't keep it out. O'Callaghan added his fifth point and all of a sudden it was 1-9 to 0-10 for the visitors.
While the hosts were managing to stay in touch courtesy of Ben O'Connor and Niall McCarthy points -- levelling through the latter in the 53rd minute -- poor shooting continued to afflict them.
The same problem was affecting Dublin, too, but to a lesser extent, and Conal Keaney cancelled out Ben O'Connor's equaliser a minute later, becoming only his side's third scorer of the contest. At the other end, things were not exactly watertight for the Leinster side either, however, as Cork hit the front again on 55.
Young sub Conor Lehane, only on the field a matter of minutes, sent in a dangerous ball to the Dublin goalmouth, and though initially it looked as if the defence had dealt with it, Horgan seized possession and the ball was worked to Luke O'Farrell, leaving him an easy tap-in to make it 1-13 to 1-11.
It was O'Callaghan and Ryan who again swung things in their side's favour, the former with a neat point from a pass by the latter, while Ryan nailed two long-range frees, one from his own '65', and as the game moved into the last 10 minutes, Dublin led by a point.
Another monster free from Ryan made it 1-15 to 1-13 with five left, but Ben O'Connor's free three minutes later made for nervy closing stages.
With a place in the final in sight, chances continued to be wasted by Dublin, subs Alan McCrabbe and Maurice O'Brien both missing opportunities, while Ryan put a '65' wide as the clock ticked down.
With the prescribed two minutes elapsed, Cork had one last chance from a Gardiner free. His effort was short and Dublin progressed.
That they did so while missing some big players was another bonus for Daly. "Liam Rushe would be a huge man for us and he was out, Ronan Walsh had a great game against Kilkenny; he was out. And Joe Boland will, hopefully, come back into play too," he said.
"We're delighted, we haven't had too much time to think about it, but we'll have to get our heads around it quickly, because we know what's waiting for us in the final."
Man of the Match: Paul Ryan (Dublin)
Scorers -- Dublin: P Ryan 1-7 (6f), D O'Callaghan 0-7, C Keaney 0-1. Cork: L O'Farrell 1-1, B O'Connor 0-4f, J Gardiner (1f, 1 '65), N McCarthy 0-3 each, K Murphy, P Horgan, C McCarthy 0-1 each.
CORK -- D Og Cusack 7; S O'Neill 6, E Cadogan 6, S McDonnell 5; J Gardiner 7, R Curran 7, W Egan 6; B Murphy 6, P Cronin 7; B O'Connor 7, C McCarthy 7, N McCarthy 7; L O'Farrell 7, K Murphy 6, P Horgan 6. Subs: L McLoughlin 6 for Cronin (15), T Kenny 6 for Egan (50), C Lehane 6 for C McCarthy (50), P O'Sullivan for K Murphy (56), J O'Connor for McLoughlin (63).
DUBLIN -- G Maguire 6; N Corcoran 7, T Brady 7, O Gough 6; P Schutte 6, P Kelly 8, S Durkan 7; J McCaffrey 8, S Lambert 7; C McCormack 6, R O'Dwyer 7, C Keaney 7; D Plunkett 8, D O'Callaghan 9, P Ryan 9. Subs: M O'Brien 6 for Schutte (43), A McCrabbe 7 for Lambert (48), D O'Dwyer for McCormack (61).
Ref -- B Gavin (Offaly)