Sunday 17 December 2017

Cork floored by determined Dublin fightback

Dublin 2-14 Cork 2-10

Cormac Costello, Dublin, in action against Kevin Crowley, Cork Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Cormac Costello, Dublin, in action against Kevin Crowley, Cork Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Cork manager Peader Healy reacts after a goal by Dublin's James McCarthy late in the second half Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE newsdesk

Dublin have mastered the art of winning in a multiplicity of ways including, as in this case, not playing particularly well. They were eight points down late in the first half against a Cork team low in confidence after losing by 18 points a week earlier at home to Roscommon. But they responded after the interval and James McCarthy's solo goal deep into injury-time made it safe.

But there was also some disappointment on the night, with manager Jim Gavin confirming that footballer of the year Jack McCaffrey will not be available for the summer. "At the moment, Jack won't be with us for the championship," he said. "He's a fourth year medical student in UCD. Jack will be heading to Africa to do some volunteer work in a hospital for the summer and then doing some travelling afterwards.

"We've known this for some time, we've given Jack time to reflect on it. He's part of the big Dublin GAA family. He knows that we're here for him whenever he wants to return to play with the county and he'll always be welcome back."

While Dublin have the resources to absorb such a blow, Cork came to Croke Park needing stability and comfort after two hidings in the league and recent history has shown that this is not the place to find it. They were in an unexpectedly healthy position at the interval, leading 2-7 to 1-3, with Dublin out of sorts and only playing in a brief burst which yielded 1-1 in little over a minute's play. Cork defended in numbers, Mark Collins playing as sweeper, but Dublin looked a team in need of greater stimulation.

They transformed their mood after the interval. McCarthy went to midfield as Dublin made two interval substitutions, replacing a wing back and midfielder, and the Ballymun player was influential in leading the charge on Cork who began to disintegrate. Cormac Costello showed calm nerves in taking over the free-taking duties, with Dean Rock not selected, although he came on. Costello kicked so effectively that there was no need to turn to Rock; all of Costello's nine points came in the second half, eight from dead balls.

In eight minutes of sustained attack after the interval they had reduced the deficit to a goal, with Cork coming under severe pressure on their own kick out. Cork were pinned back in their own half and in the 57th minute Costello had Dublin level, with his sixth free. Costello put Dublin ahead for the first time 12 minutes from the end and his first from play had them two clear and Cork still searching for their first score of the half.

To Cork's credit, they found a second wind, although Dublin played the last ten minutes a man short when Jonny Cooper was sent off after receiving a second yellow card. Brian Hurley scored a free and Ruairi Deane, like Hurley, a second half sub, both scored to level the match. Poor discipline at the back cost them dearly and with play in the last minute Costello's eight free nosed Dublin back in front. McCarthy's goal made it safe.

Having conceded 6-39 in their last two matches, Cork will take some positives from the performance, in particular their revival in the last ten minutes when they managed to leave the result in doubt until McCarthy's goal. At the hour mark, with Cork still to score in the second half, Dublin looked odds-on winners. Bernard Brogan started the match but was taken off. In the first half he set up a beautiful goal for Diarmuid Connolly, Dublin's first score of the match after 21 minutes.

Cork, with Colm O'Neill leading the scoring on 1-3, were 1-4 to 0-0 ahead before Connolly's strike. The Cork goal came two minutes earlier, when full forward Peter Kelleher had his shirt pulled by Philly McMahon under a dropping ball and O'Neill struck the penalty with tremendous confidence. They had a second goal in the 28th minute. O'Neill's wayward shot was skilfully kept in play by the impressive Paul Kerrigan and he saw Kelleher with room, the latter fisting into the Dublin goal.

Scorers - Dublin: C Costello 0-9 (0-8 fs); D Connolly 1-3 (0-1 f; 0-1 45); J McCarthy 1-0; P Andrews 0-2. Cork: C O'Neill 1-3 (1-0 pen; 0-2 fs); P Kelleher 1-0; B Hurley 0-2 (0-1 f); P Kerrigan, C O'Driscoll, L Connolly (f), R Deane, M Collins 0-1 each.
Dublin: M Savage; J Cooper, P McMahon, D Byrne; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan E Lowdnes; B Fenton, E O Conghaille; P Flynn, D Connolly, C Kilkenny; C Costello P Andrews, B Brogan. Subs: J Small for Lowndes & M Fitzsimons for Fenton (both half-time); S Carthy for O Conghaile (47); D Rock for Brogan (49); K McManamon for Andrews (65); SB Carthy for Flynn (71).
Cork: M Martin; J O'Sullivan, E Cadogan, K Crowley; T Clancy, B O'Driscoll, K O'Driscoll; S Kiely, I McGuire; M Collins, L Connolly, C O'Driscoll; C O'Neill, P Kerrigan, P Kelleher. Subs: D Goulding for O'Neill (43 mins); K O'Halon for Kiely (50); B Hurley for K O'Driscoll (53); R Deane for Connolly (56); A OSullivan for Kelleher (66); M Colllins for Kerrigan (70).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).


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