CORK always looked too strong as they opened their league campaign with victory at home to a dogged Offaly side at Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday.
Featuring a mix of household names as well as newer additions to the panel, Denis Walsh's side possessed more of an all-round attacking threat than their midlands visitors, who relied heavily on Brian Carroll and Shane Dooley and did not offer a huge threat in the second half.
Had Dooley been successful with a goal chance when Cork led by 1-14 to 1-12 in the 50th minute, then perhaps Offaly might have returned home successful, but instead his shot was saved by Anthony Nash and Cork finished strongly.
The hosts were on top for most of the game, but while a goal from Tom Kenny, who was playing at wing-forward, inside a minute was a boost, they were not allowed to have things all their own way early on.
Offaly cancelled out that lead and stayed with Cork, with Colin Egan's goal following a well-worked move after 14 minutes tying the game at 1-4 apiece.
Inspired by Carroll, Offaly led twice around the middle of the first half, but Cork had some impressive attackers of their own. Paudie O'Sullivan hit three fine points in the final 10 minutes of the first half while Cathal Naughton also weighed in with a pair and, as half-time neared, they led by 1-12 to 1-9.
Points from Dooley and Joe Bergin cut the gap to just a point by the interval, however, but Offaly never really looked as if they would eradicate Cork's advantage in the second half.
Instead, the home side should probably have forged further ahead, but chances were wasted. After Nash's save from Dooley, a Ben O'Connor free gave Cork more breathing space and Brian Murphy was unlucky not to get a goal with nine minutes left, James Dempsey saving well as he tipped the deflected shot over the bar.
In injury-time, with Cork leading by six, sub Cian McCarthy had an opportunity to wrap things up when fouled in the large square, but his shot was saved by corner-back Stephen Egan. While Bergin did point for Offaly after that, Cork were never in trouble.
Scorers -- Cork: B O'Connor (2f, 1 s-l), P O'Sullivan, P Horgan (2f) 0-4 each, P Cronin 0-3, T Kenny 1-0, C Naughton 0-2, J O'Connor, B Murphy, N McCarthy 0-1 each. Offaly: S Dooley 0-6 (5f), B Carroll 0-4, C Egan 1-0, J Bergin 0-2, S Kelly, S Wynne, C Parlon 0-1 each.
CORK -- A Nash; S McDonnell, E Cadogan, S Murphy; J Gardiner, M Ellis, W Egan; J O'Connor, B Murphy; T Kenny, P Cronin, C Naughton; B O'Connor, P O'Sullivan, P Horgan. Subs: N McCarthy for Naughton (53), K Murphy for Horgan (53), L McLoughlin for Egan (58), C McCarthy for Cronin (63).
OFFALY -- J Dempsey; B Mulrooney, J Rigney, S Egan; D Hayden, R Hanniffy, D Morkam; C Mahon, S Kelly; B Carroll, C Egan, S Wynne; C Parlon, J Bergin, S Dooley. Subs: D Hayden for Rigney (41), K Connolly for Kelly (49), K Brady for Wynne (63).
Ref -- M Wadding (Waterford).