Walsh centre stage in powerful Rebels display
Cork 2-14 Laois 0-10
Cork got the defence of their title back on track with a routine win over a Laois side that was woefully uncompetitive for most of the first half in Portlaoise on Saturday night.
That was when the damage was inflicted by the ruthless champions, whose size advantage all over the pitch paid massive dividends, and especially in the full-forward line where they ran riot.
Aidan Walsh was a revelation at full-forward, scoring three points and having a hand in a number of other scores. Colm O'Neill signalled his good health with two emphatic finishes and a generally impressive performance that indicated once again what a loss he was to the Leesiders last year when a cruciate ligament injury ruled him out.
To be fair to Justin McNulty's charges, they did improve in the second half, outscoring their opponents 0-5 to 0-3.
But having trailed by 2-11 to 0-5 at the break and with Rebels midfielder Pearse O'Neill sent off for a second yellow-card offence in the 39th minute, there was only so much that could be read into that.
Laois actually tore out of the traps with three points inside the opening six minutes through the in-form Ross Munnelly, John O'Loughlin and a Michael John Tierney free, but that was as good as it got as Fintan Goold, Walsh, Donncha O'Connor and O'Neill all plundered points from a variety of distances and angles.
O'Neill provided two emphatic finishes for the goals in the seventh minute and then injury-time as Cork cruised home.
Man of the Match: Aidan Walsh (Cork)
Scorers -- Cork: C O'Neill 2-3 (1 '45), A Walsh, F Goold 0-3 each, D O'Connor 0-2 (1f), P Kissane, E Cotter, P Kerrigan 0-1 each Laois: MJ Tierney 0-4(f), R Munnelly, J O'Loughlin 0-2 each, D Strong, P Cahillane 0-1 each.
Cork -- A Quirke7; R Carey 7, E O'Mahony 8, E Cotter 7; P Kissane 9, N O'Leary 8, G Canty 7; A O'Connor 7, P O'Neill 5; F Goold 8, P Kerrigan 7, P Kelly 7; D O'Connor 7, A Walsh 9, C O'Neill 9. Subs: B O'Driscoll 6 for Kerrigan (56), S Kiely 6 for Canty (56), D O'Sullivan 6 for Kissane (67), J Fitzpatrick 6 for A O'Connor (67), L Shorten 6 for D O'Connor (67).
Laois -- E Culliton 8; P O'Leary 5, K Lillis 6, C Healy 5; C Boyle 6, C Begley 6, D Strong 6; K Meaney 6, J O'Loughlin 7; P Cahillane 6, D O'Connor 6, B Sheehan 5; R Munnelly 7, A Kelly 6, MJ Tierney 6. Subs: M Timmons 7 for O'Connor (h-t), S Conroy 7 for Sheehan (h-t), S Ramsbottom 6 for Kelly (46), G Walsh 6 for O'Loughlin (67), L Kealy 6 for Strong (67).
Ref -- C Reilly (Meath)