Deja vu as O hAilpin hits target to kill off Faithful
JUST like when the sides met in the All-Ireland qualifiers last year, Cork pulled away in the second half to record a comprehensive win over Offaly in front of 3,638 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
And, in a repeat of last year, Aisake Ó hAilpín was the Cork goal-scoring hero, finding the net in the 63rd minute to restore a six-point advantage and put the game beyond the visitors.
Cork manager Denis Walsh was naturally pleased to see his side begin their campaign with a win, and felt that the goal was the crucial score, especially as it had cancelled out Shane Dooley's 58th-minute effort for the Faithful County, to make it 0-15 to 1-10.
"The game was a bit like the championship game in that the scoreline probably flattered us a bit," Walsh said.
"Offaly were more than holding their own in the first half and they were dangerous, but the lead was five points again after we got the goal and their heads dropped a bit after that."
Walsh admitted that going in level at half-time at 0-9 each was disappointing, but that he was heartened with the response in the second period, when the Rebels began to pull away before Dooley put Offaly back in the game.
"I thought we were excellent in the second half," he said.
"We dropped the tempo in the first half, maybe played for only about 10 minutes, but after half-time we showed what we can do really if we up the tempo. Over the last couple of years maybe, even in my six months in charge last year, in the games against against Tipp and Galway, we struggled to get the tempo up, but if we can maintain what we did today we're going to trouble anybody.
"It's a very positive start and we're happy with the lads."
In what was a largely tame first half, the game seemed to be developing into a shootout between the two No 15s, Dooley for Offaly and Patrick Horgan for the home side, as they scored six and five points respectively.
Overall, Cork looked to be stronger but were playing within themselves, missing the presence of Ben and Jerry O'Connor while debutants David Cunningham, Lorcan McLoughlin and Mark O'Sullivan were trying to find their feet.
An injury to Cunningham saw Eoin Cadogan introduced at half-time and he seemed to provide a solid presence at full-back.
Cork began to up the ante and when John Gardiner, captain Kieran Murphy, O'Sullivan, a Horgan free and two from Niall McCarthy put them six to the good, a Dooley free was all Offaly could offer in response.
In the 58th minute, however, the lead was back to just two points, Dooley firing home the rebound after a Brian Carroll high ball into the Cork goalmouth was not cleared properly.
Gardiner gave them some breathing space with a long-range free before Ó hAilpín found the net -- despite falling after catching a Gardiner delivery -- getting his shot in despite the attentions of Offaly stand-in goalkeeper Eoin Kelly and David Kenny.
That more or less sealed the outcome, Offaly went on to score just one more point, while Cork began to find some real fluency, Kieran Murphy adding two points late on.
Scorers -- Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (0-5f), J Gardiner 0-5 (0-4f), K Murphy 0-4, A Ó hAilpín 1-0, N McCarthy 0-2, M O'Sullivan, M Cussen 0-1 each. Offaly: S Dooley 1-8 (0-6f, 0-1 65), B Carroll, C Mahon, C Parlon 0-1 each.
CORK -- D Óg Cusack; S O'Neill, D Cunningham, S Murphy; B Murphy, R Curran, S Óg Ó hAilpín; J Gardiner, T Kenny; L McLoughlin, M O'Sullivan, N McCarthy; K Murphy, A Ó hAilpín, P Horgan. Subs: E Cadogan for Cunningham (h-t), C McCarthy for O'Sullivan (53), M Cussen for N McCarthy (62), F O'Leary for McLoughlin (64), R Ryan for S Óg Ó hAilpín (70, inj).
OFFALY -- E Kelly; J Rigney, P Cleary, D Kenny; D Hayden, G Oakley, D Morkan; D Horan, R Hanniffy; C Parlon, C Mahon, B Carroll; S Dooley, G Healion, J Bergin. Subs: K Brady for Oakley (47), D Currams for Parlon (57), D Molloy for Carroll (65).
Ref -- M Wadding (Waterford).