Monday 26 August 2019

Ruthless Cork blow opponents Laois away to reach Super 8s

All-Ireland SFC Qualifier Round 4: Cork 4-20 Laois 1-15

Colm Murphy of Laois in action against James Loughrey of Cork their All-Ireland SFC Round 4 Qualifier at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photo by Sportsfile
Colm Murphy of Laois in action against James Loughrey of Cork their All-Ireland SFC Round 4 Qualifier at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photo by Sportsfile

John Tarrant, Semple Stadium, Thules

Open attacking football paved the way for Cork to outclass Laois to a one sided Round 4 SFC Qualifier to the Semple Stadium hosting.

Maybe not the complete performance over the full contest, at their best, Cork's pace, energy and relentless probings merged into a powerful force. Laois gave as good as they got for 25 minutes only to be blown away by the intensity of a fired up Rebel side who romped home with a degree of ease even their staunchest of loyal supporters could hardly had expected.

Indeed Cork worked through the 70 odd minutes with impressive efficiency, only a meagre three wides recorded and a whopping 4-20 illuminating the scoreboard. Inside men Brian Hurley and Mark Collins contributed handsomely to the cause, the Castlehaven pair picked off a 3-12 tally, the deadly duo involved in so many productive moves and always offering themselves as moving targets.

The outcome is sweet though challenging times lay ahead, Cork make it to the all important Super 8s in the company of experienced campaigners Dublin, Tyrone and Roscommon. Their first outing in the All-Ireland quarter-finals is a trip to Croke Park to take on the reigning All-Ireland champions next Saturday night!

With 6,114 in attendance, much of the opening half made for a highly entertaining encounter as both sides went toe to toe, the O'Moore County enjoyed a slender 0-4 to 0-3 advantage thanks to excellent shooting from the impressive Donie Kingston.

At the opposite end, the radar of Collins remained on cue as did a fine effort from Kevin O'Driscoll helped forge Cork ahead only for the hard working Conor Murphy and Kingston's accuracy from placed balls forged parity for Laois.

Cork had lost Killian O'Hanlon to injury, so impressive in the Munster Final, the Kilshannig player endured a few challenges that forced his withdrawel. Despite the setback, Cork continued to move through the gears, James Loughrey, Liam O'Donovan and Mattie Taylor scarcely put a foot wrong in defence and added to the attacking options.

Team captain Ian Maguire and newcomer Ronan O'Toole adapted well in the centre as Ruairí Deane, Collins and Hurley found their rhythm, carving holes in the Laois defence. The Castlehaven duo delivered smashing points and as Cork continued to power down the middle channel, Deane was the creator for both O'Toole and Hurley deliver smashing points for a 0-12 to 0-7 advantage at the break.

And Cork were a transformed team on the restart, inside 15 seconds, their prospects soared, Liam O'Donovan provided the ball for substitute Paul Kerrigan deliver a probing ball for Collins to lay off for Hurley to sidefoot delightfully to the net.

Wing back Liam O'Donovan got in on the scoring act before the brilliant Hurley delivered again, collecting a raking delivery from Loughrey to round a defender and plant the ball in the net. And when Collins added a pointed free, Cork had surged ahead 2-15 to 0-7 with just seven minutes of the second half elapsed.

Laois facing a mountain to climb answered on points to Kingston and Trevor Collins only for Cork to respond, a brace of converted Collins frees before the same player was at the end of a move initiated by Deane for Hurley to offload to his fellow club man to net.

The tempo dropped, fresh legs introduced on a humid evening interrupted the flow of the contest. That allowed Laois plug away, their efforts rewarded on a consolation goal from Martin Scully.

The contest meandered it way to a conclusion, Cork not finished just yet, substitute Michael Hurley picked out veteran Kerrigan for a green flag. Indeed, Kerrigan might well had added a second only for a brilliant save by Laois 'keeper Graham Brody prior to late Cork substitute Stephen Sherlock bringing the curtain down with a pair of white flags.

CORK: M White (Clonakilty); K O'Donovan (Nemo Rangers), J Loughrey (Mallow), K Flahive (Douglas); L O'Donovan (Clonakilty) 0-1, Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty), M Taylor (Mallow); I Maguire (St. Finbarrs), K O'Hanlon (Kilshannig); K O'Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh) 0-1, S White (Clonakilty), R Deane (Bantry Blues) 0-2; L Connolly (Nemo Rangers), B Hurley (Castlehaven) 2-4, M Collins (Castlehaven) 1-8, 0-4f. Subs: R O'Toole (Éire Og) 0-1 for K O'Hanlon (21 inj), P Kerrigan (1-1) for L Connolly (ht), Tomas Clancy (Fermoy) for Tom Clancy (44 BC), A Browne (Newmarket) for J Loughrey (46), M Hurley (Castlehaven) for B Hurley (53), S Cronin (Nemo Rangers) for I Maguire (62), S Sherlock (0-2, 1'45) for R Deane (66).

LAOIS: G Brody; S Attride, D Booth, G Dillon; T Collins (0-1), R Piggott, P O'Sullivan; J O'Loughlin, K Lillis; D O'Reilly, P Kingston, M Scully (1-0); D Kingston (0-10, 0-7f), C Murphy (0-1), E Lowry (0-1). Subs: C Begley for P O'Sullivan (HT), E O'Carroll (0-1) for P Kingston (44), S Byrne for D O'Reilly (46), M Barry (0-1) for C Murphy (46), D Seale for D Booth (56), S O'Flynn for G Dillon (63).

Referee: F Kelly (Longford)