Sunday 25 August 2019

McCaffrey makes difference as Cork wilt in final stages

Dublin 5-18 Cork 1-17

Jack McCaffrey works just enough space to shoot past Cork's Seán White to score Dublin’s first goal at Croke Park on Saturday. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Jack McCaffrey works just enough space to shoot past Cork's Seán White to score Dublin’s first goal at Croke Park on Saturday. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

In the final minutes the eruption that had been threatening occurred and Dublin went on a scoring spree, catapulting them clear of Cork, who had been on their tails all night.

Three goals in the last 10 minutes made a mockery of Cork's toil, but they had a first-hand appreciation of where the bar is currently at in terms of winning All-Irelands.

Dublin manager Jim Gavin shakes hands with Cork manager Ronan McCarthy following the match. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Dublin manager Jim Gavin shakes hands with Cork manager Ronan McCarthy following the match. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

For a county that fell into Division 3 only a few months ago they are entitled to feel they have made progress. The goals which ransacked Limerick and Laois - they fired three past Kerry as well in the Munster final - didn't flow on this occasion.

Still, 1-17 against Dublin is a healthy score and with 62 minutes played they were only four points adrift.

You wondered if they could sustain it to the finish, but while that idea was still fermenting, Dublin's third goal from Niall Scully crushed any comeback hopes. Two more followed in the next six minutes, one from a short kick-out intercepted by Paddy Small, a giveaway, and the match was gone in a flash.

The third had Brian Fenton tearing down the middle and blasting home, almost a declaration that all insurrection attempts are futile. It was another striking display of Dublin's firepower that will be augmented with the return of Diarmuid Connolly.

Dublin players, left to right, Brian Fenton, Con O'Callaghan, Ciarán Kilkenny, and Michael Darragh Macauley in action against Cork players, left to right, Kevin O'Driscoll, Ian Maguire, and Kevin Flahive: Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Dublin players, left to right, Brian Fenton, Con O'Callaghan, Ciarán Kilkenny, and Michael Darragh Macauley in action against Cork players, left to right, Kevin O'Driscoll, Ian Maguire, and Kevin Flahive: Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

"Look, they're an outstanding team," said Cork manager Ronan McCarthy (below, with Jim Gavin). "First thing, they don't panic. I think their decision making is really the key thing. They're patient, they'll always wait for the right man to get the shot off - whereas at times we were a bit rushed, a bit hassled, in some of the decisions we made. They're an outstanding team, but I felt we gave as good as we got for a long time."

At the end Jack McCaffrey was declared the Man of the Match and six years after he scored a fine solo goal when these counties last met in the championship, he was immense.

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Numerous times he made cheetah-like runs deep into the Cork half of the field, with players flapping in his wake. After a slow start his goal in the 11th minute helped Dublin compose themselves and get down to the business of winning the match.

McCaffrey directly set up Fenton's late goal with an astute kick pass and had a hand in those scored by Michael Darragh Macauley in first-half injury time and also Scully's, with the impressive Con O'Callaghan also involved in creating two of the Dublin goals. The Cuala player had four points of his own and should have had a goal, blazing a first-half chance over the bar with only the keeper to beat.

The first six minutes saw Cork send over four points without reply, one from the experienced Paul Kerrigan, who finished up with three. Brian Hurley kicked a beauty after selling a dummy, but after five goals from Hurley in Cork's three championship matches to date, he could not find the net this time.

In the first-half he wheeled around Mick Fitzsimons, but his shot was saved by Stephen Cluxton.

Instead of Cork scoring a goal that would have put the wind in their sails, Dublin struck a second time with the final play of the first-half to give them a six-point interval lead, 2-9 to 0-9, when Macauley patted to the net after Cormac Costello set him up.

Quality

Jim Gavin acknowledged Cork's contribution to an entertaining match.

"You saw the quality of the scores that they got. Very impressive movement leading into those scores. And I suppose no surprise that they were going over the bar. They're a quality side, we'd know them very well from our U-21 days."

Cork, with a modest support, did not lay down after Macauley's goal. Ten minutes after half-time Kerrigan put Ian Maguire through and he was bowled over by Cian O'Sullivan.

Luke Connolly, who had converted a penalty in the Munster final, beat Cluxton to the goalkeeper's right. The Dublin lead was down to just two points.

From the kick-out Brian Howard, who was exceptional, made a superb catch and from there John Small kicked a point. While Liam O'Donovan matched it, the next three points were Dublin's, one from Philly McMahon following a huge catch by Fenton.

With 20 minutes of the second-half gone the difference was back down to three points, 2-14 to 1-14, following two scores from Mattie Taylor and a belter from Hurley after Cork won the Dublin kick-out. Cluxton had to make a vital save to prevent a Cork goal when dealing with a high ball, and at that point Cork were still in the match.

The arrival of Dean Rock steadied Dublin on frees after an indifferent day for Costello and Rock's free had left four between them entering the final 10 minutes when the floodgates opened. McCaffrey was again involved. A run into Cork territory created the space for O'Callaghan to wiggle his way past the cover and then put through Scully. He shot emphatically to the net with almost 62 minutes on the clock.

Four minutes later Ciarán Kilkenny took Paddy Small's pass after a short kick out went astray and the net shook a fourth time. Two minutes after that Fenton added the fifth. Michael Hurley came on and kicked a couple of points, but the match had been turned into a carnival.

Gavin's focus is now on Roscommon at Croke Park next Saturday.

"I think it's all on the line for both teams - both teams will be seeking a victory. We played them at Hyde Park a number of months ago. A really, really good game. We came away impressed with them."

McCarthy's takes his team back to Croke Park to face Tyrone.

"To be fair to Dublin, they deserved to win the game, I'm not arguing with that at all," he said. "The scoreline was probably a bit unfair to us."

In what was a first Cork quarter-final appearance since 2014, it might signal a red revival.

Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-5 (3f, 45); C Kilkenny 1-2; C O'Callaghan 0-4; B Fenton 1-1; P McMahon, P Mannion 0-2; M D Macauley, N Scully, J McCaffrey 1-0 each; C Costello, J Small 0-1 each. Cork: L Connolly 1-3 (1-0 pen; 45); B Hurley (1f); P Kerrigan 0-3 each; 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 8; D Byrne 7, M Fitzsimons 7, P McMahon 8; J Small 8, C O'Sullivan 7, J McCaffrey 9; B Fenton 8, MD Macauley 8; N Scully 7, C Kilkenny 8, B Howard 8; P Mannion 8, C O'Callaghan 9, C Costello 7. Subs: D Rock 8 for Costello (45 mins); P Small 7 for O'Callaghan (65); J Cooper 6 for O'Sullivan (67); K McManamon 6 for Mannion (67); E Murchan 6 for McCaffrey (70); J McCarthy 6 for Fenton (72).

Cork - M White 7; K Flahive 7, Thomas Clancy 7, J Loughrey 7; L O'Donovan 7, Tomas Clancy 7, M Taylor 7; I Maguire 7, K O'Driscoll 8; L Connolly 8, S White 7, R Deane 7; P Kerrigan 8, B Hurley 8, M Collins 7. Subs: M Hurley 7 for Kerrigan & K O'Donovan 7 for Loughrey (56 mins); R O'Toole 6 for White (63); S Sherlock 6 for Connolly (65); C Kiely 6 for L O'Donovan (68); J O'Rourke 6 for Maguire (69)

Ref - D Gough (Meath)

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