Thursday 18 July 2019

Rebels struggle to find their groove against Wexford

NHL Division 1A Round 2: Wexford 1-18 Cork 0-17

Cormac Murphy of Cork. Photo by Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cormac Murphy of Cork. Photo by Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

Diarmuid Sheehan

Cork went down to their second loss on the bounce in the NHL on Sunday after struggling to get anything like a positive momentum against Wexford in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

In front of 6,827 paying customers the Rebels followed their defeat to Kilkenny the previous Sunday with a lack lustre display that had many on and off the pitch scratching their heads for an answer.

All over the poor pitch Cork struggled to get going, particularly in the second period when they seemed to be second to most balls and after drawing level mid-way through the half never really looked like they had enough to put a gallant Wexford side to anything like a sword.

Right from the off the Cork full-back line were put under pressure when Damien Cahalane was out jumped by Conor McDonald, but when the Wexford full-forward turned to shoot he found Anthony Nash standing firm and the Kanturk man saved down low to deny Wexford the perfect start.

Wexford did manage to score less than a minute later when wing back Shaun Murphy slotted home from distance to get the ball rolling for the Leinster side.

Cork started to move after the opening score and rattled off the next three points in a four minute spell with points from Bill; Cooper, Tim O'Mahony and Patrick Horgan (free) settling the nerves of the men in red.

Horgan and Jack O'Connor shared the next two points from frees with both players showing serious accuracy from tight angled placed balls before Diarmuid O'Keeffe cut the gap to the minimum with a nice score on the run.

The sides traded scores points for the next 10 minutes or so with Mallow's Cormac Murphy again impressing in the middle third with a points and some heavy challenges.

Up front, Kanturk's Aidan Walsh kicked into gear with three quick points, three points of quality it has to be said, which will keep him well in the reckoning for Meyler in the coming weeks.

In the middle of Walsh's opening half hat-trick came a goal from Wexford which must go down to a goal keeping error from Anthony Nash. A long ball in from Wexford midfielder Kevin Foley seemed to bamboozle Nash, rebounding from the post to the awaiting Conor McDonald who made no mistake close in.

Cork rallied to the setback with Walsh leading the charge and despite being rocked by McDonald's freak intervention, went in level 1-07 to 0-10.

Both sides would have been looking for a quick start to the second half however it was Wexford that stole a march on the home side with a brace of quick points, but Cork responded with points of their own from Walsh, Horgan and Cooper to again bring the game to parity by the 47th minute.

Wexford introduced lee Chin at that point and seemed to raise their game to another level with three points from Jack and Rory O'Connor. The former added a long range effort moments later to again push Wexford two clear as the Cork struggled to get anywhere near the lead.

Cork looked like a side running out of ideas as they started to add some unacceptable wides and on far too many occasions were caught napping with the ball as players seemed to need far too long to make up their minds.

Cork became speculative in their approach to shooting for more than a 10 minute period, deciding to have a go from distance when perhaps they would have been better-off trying to find a man with a better position. Even Horgan was getting in on the act slotting wide two efforts that he would normally hit in his sleep.

Wexford, to their credit finished the stronger and in truth were well worth their four point win on what has to go down as a bad day for John Meyler's men. While the result on the pitch had many people talking the pitch itself was the main talking point of the day as the much lauded turf failed to live up to anything like its promise. Major works on and off the pitch are due if Cork is to get this particular train back on track for what will be a massive year for the county's GAA supporters.

Wexford: M Fanning; D Reck, D Byrne, S Donohoe 0-1; J O'Connor 0-6 (0-5f), M O'Hanlon, P Foley 0-2 (0-1f); S Murphy 0-1, D O'Keeffe (0-2); D Dunne 1-0, P Morris, K Foley; L Óg McGovern, C McDonald 0-1f, C Dunbar 0-3 Subs: R O'Connor 0-2 for Dunne (ht), L Chin for McGovern (46), I Byrne for Morris (64), H Kehoe for McDonald (70)

Cork: A Nash; S O'Donoghue, D Cahalane, C O'Sullivan; C Joyce, T O'Mahony 0-2, M Coleman; B Cooper 0-2, C Murphy 0-1; C Cahalane, M O'Halloran, D Kearney 0-1; A Walsh 0-4, P Horgan 0-5f, C Lehane 0-1 Subs: L Meade for C Cahalane (25, inj), S Kingston 0-1 for O'Halloran (45), D Dalton for Lehane (64), G Millerick for O'Sullivan (68)

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)


The Game in 60 seconds

Man of the Match

There is normally one player that always stands out during a game, even if it just a little but in truth hard to think of anyone that was worthy of anything like a 10. From a Wexford point of view Cork point of view Jack O'Connor was the main man with six points while Cathal Dunbar impressed in the corner with three. For Cork Aidan Walsh did really well in bursts with a very credible four points from play. Easily the top man for Cork.

Score of the match

The goal by David Dunne was probably the difference at the end, but it was hardly anything like a classic score. Walsh bagged a beautiful point over his shoulder on 27 minutes which was Cork's best effort while Rory O'Connor hit a monster for Wexford on 51. Hard to pick between them.

Turning Point

Cork got the game back to parity on 46 minutes and looked like they may be able to pull clear but five of the next six points went to the visitors and this was done. Two scores in the 51stminute rocked the rebels and it looked bad from that point to the finish. Cork were never able to recover.