Wednesday 21 August 2019

Dubs hit top gear to burn off Cork

Dublin 5-18 Cork 1-17

Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey in action against Cork’s Ruairí Deane during yesterday’s Super 8 game at Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey in action against Cork’s Ruairí Deane during yesterday’s Super 8 game at Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

There were four points between the teams when the floodgates opened. Cork made it as far as the 62nd minute with Dublin still in their range, and were bracing themselves for the final push when the floor collapsed beneath them.

Man of the match Jack McCaffrey made another incisive run up the field, speeding past tiring Cork figures, and found Con O'Callaghan, who waited until the time was right to release the next available option. Niall Scully stepped into the breach and drove a powerful shot to the roof to the net for Dublin's third goal.

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Cork's Brian Hurley's shot is saved by Dublin's Stephen Cluxton. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork's Brian Hurley's shot is saved by Dublin's Stephen Cluxton. Photo: Sportsfile

Two more followed in the next few minutes, which was harsh on Cork for their valiant efforts on the evening, but a reminder of how much these counties have diverged since they last met in the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final. Four minutes after Scully's goal, a short kick-out by Mark White, who had a good match generally, was intercepted by Paddy Small and he placed Ciarán Kilkenny for a goal. Cork were punch drunk by then and two minutes later a fifth Dublin goal followed from Brian Fenton, charging through the middle with Cork having been stretched beyond the limits of their endurance.

For a county that has suffered much indignity in recent years, including relegation to Division 3 in the spring, this was a performance which had many positive elements though there is no escaping that ultimately they lost by 13 points.

They had a wonderful start, racing into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead in six minutes, and after trailing by six points at half-time, a second-half penalty by Luke Connolly brought them back to within two points of Dublin ten minutes after the interval. You could never say Dublin looked in danger, for they always remained composed and managed a response, but the match remained alive and engaging longer than expected.

After Connolly's goal, as if irked by Cork's persistence, Dublin produced some quality passages of play. Stephen Cluxton's restarts were exemplary and the high fielding from the likes of Brian Howard and Brian Fenton also sent out a signal that whatever Cork produced it would only be to stave off the inevitable.

Dublin's Michael Darragh Macauley faces Cork's Thomas Clancy. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Michael Darragh Macauley faces Cork's Thomas Clancy. Photo: Sportsfile

Cork, to their credit, made a serious game of it for an hour but the effort required in trying to keep Dublin at bay, when they run at you from all quarters, eventually broke them.

McCaffrey was a scourge for Cork all through but notably in the first half. He scored the first Dublin goal that steadied the home team after their indifferent start, having scored a vital goal when the counties last met in the championship in 2013.

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Cork set off like a train, disregarding the odds stacked against them. Paul Kerrigan, a late inclusion, rolled back the years with three points from play in the opening half, and was narrowly wide with two more attempts. But Dublin maintained their composure.

As they had in last year's All-Ireland final adjacent Tyrone, they bided their time, the long run of wins in the championship back to 2014 having created a confidence and belief that appears almost unshakeable.

Cork's Paul Kerrigan is tracked by Dublin's Michael Darragh Macauley. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork's Paul Kerrigan is tracked by Dublin's Michael Darragh Macauley. Photo: Sportsfile

One player seemed in a hurry, however. McCaffrey's goal in the 11th minute served as a blow to Cork's early confidence. Throughout the first half his accelerations up the field caused them problems. The goal itself was a poor concession from a Cork perspective as Seán White and Thomas Clancy appeared to have defused the threat when McCaffrey arrived within shooting range of their goal. But having turned his back to the target, he spun on to his right and directed a low shot across White into the far corner.

It had taken Dublin almost eight minutes to score. Cormac Costello, his striking from dead balls not of the usual standard, went short to O'Callaghan who fired over the first of three in the first half. One of those could, probably should, have been a goal but O'Callaghan's movement was a constant threat and he set up the equaliser for Costello in the 15th minute, the teams tied 1-3 to 0-6. Costello's kicking let him down and he was replaced in the second half by Dean Rock, who picked up where he left off when introduced in the Leinster final, kicking confidently and stacking up five points. It leaves Jim Gavin with a difficult call to make for the next match.

Cork worked hard when not in possession but Dublin are not easily subdued. The lead point in the 18th minute was indicative. They forced Dublin to recycle the ball from deep inside the Cork half out to beyond midfield but then Howard, not for the first time, broke through a tackle with a sudden burst of speed and the ensuing overlaps ended with a fine score for Fenton.

The range of options was illustrated by the next score, Philly McMahon having a go off his left, successfully, after turning off his right to make the room. Again, McCaffrey had a hand in the move.

Dublin's Ciarán Kilkenny catches the ball under pressure from Cork's Tomás Clancy. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Ciarán Kilkenny catches the ball under pressure from Cork's Tomás Clancy. Photo: Sportsfile

O'Callagan's goal chance 11 minutes from the interval reminded Cork of the constant danger. Costello was held up by tight Cork defensive work but when O'Callaghan got the ball he went for the gap and was clean through with White to beat. He drove skyward but had a point in compensation to leave Dublin ahead by 1-6 to 0-7.

Cork kept working and attacking, searching for openings. McCaffrey almost put through Costello for a goal chance, Thomas Clancy diverting the danger by getting his hand in the way, and Kilkenny pointed after a sweeping Dublin attack stretched Cork and breached their cover.

Brian Hurley had a chance to score his sixth goal of the championship seven minutes from the interval after flying past Mick Fitzsimons but Cluxton blocked the attempt, with Connolly free if Hurley had opted to use him. Instead, with Cork needing the goal, it was Dublin who grabbed their second with the first half's last play.

McCaffrey delivered a long free, won by O'Callaghan who fed Costello and he laid the ball across to the waiting Michael Darragh Macauley, who batted the ball to the net with the goal totally exposed. For all of Cork's efforts, they went in at half time trailing 0-9 to 2-9.

Ian Maguire won the penalty off Cian O'Sullivan which brought Cork back into the match in the 46th minute but Cork had to survive another goal scare when John Small was put through but blazed over the bar. Points from Mattie Taylor and Hurley midway though the half showed Cork's resilience. But they couldn't hold out under such pressure.

Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-5 (3f, 1 '45); C Kilkenny 1-2; C O'Callaghan 0-4; B Fenton 1-1; M D Macauley, N Scully, J McCaffrey 1-0 each; P McMahon, P Mannion 0-2; C Costello, J Small 0-1 each. Cork: L Connolly 1-3 (1-0 pen; 1 '45); B Hurley 0-3 (1f); P Kerrigan 0-3; M Hurley 0-2; M Taylor, L O'Donovan, K O'Driscoll, S White, R Deane, M Collins (f) 0-1 each.

Dublin: S Cluxton; D Byrne, M Fitzsimons, P McMahon; J Small, C O'Sullivan, J McCaffrey; B Fenton, MD Macauley; N Scully, C Kilkenny, B Howard; P Mannion, C O'Callaghan, C Costello. Subs: D Rock for Costello (45 mins); P Small for O'Callaghan (65); J Cooper for O'Sullivan (67); K McManamon for Mannion (67); E Murchan for McCaffrey (70); J McCarthy for Fenton (72).

Cork: M White; K Flahive, Thomas Clancy, J Loughrey; L O'Donovan, Tomás Clancy, M Taylor; I Maguire, K O'Driscoll; L Connolly, S White, R Deane; P Kerrigan, B Hurley, M Collins. Subs: M Hurley for Kerrigan & K O'Donovan for Loughrey (56 mins); R O'Toole for White (63); S Sherlock for Connolly (65); C Kiely for L O'Donovan (68); J O'Rourke for Maguire (69).

Referee: D Gough (Meath)

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