Cadogan stars as Rebels hold firm
Cork 1-26 Dublin 1-23
What might have ended up as one of the worst weeks for Cork hurling at least managed to end on a positive note at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday evening.
With the county U-21s and minors having lost to Limerick and Tipperary respectively during the week, a senior defeat to Dublin would have brought more talk of crisis, but Kieran Kingston's team dug out the win against their 14-man opponents, who lost Chris Crummey to a red card before half-time.
While four Dublin points in a row had them level at 1-22 each with four minutes left, Cork managed to grind out the win. Selector Pat Ryan insisted afterwards that there wasn't any extra pressure in light of the underage losses.
"There's an onus on you when you're a Cork senior hurling team that you have to be winning," he said.
"We had a very disappointing league and obviously the performance against Tipperary wasn't what we wanted or wasn't acceptable really for Cork hurling standards. The pressure was on to perform for ourselves tonight and the lads trained very hard and we put a lot of effort in, the management team and the backroom staff and all that side of things. You have to be winning matches if you're putting in that effort and we're delighted to get the win tonight."
Alan Cadogan's haul of 1-5 was hugely important, as was the impact made by subs Cork introduced.
"I thought the five subs we brought on all made a contribution," Ryan said.
"After the Tipperary game, we left four fellas out - Conor O'Sullivan, Daniel Kearney, Brian Lawton and Lorcan McLoughlin - and we thought the impact they had on the game when they came in was huge. So we were delighted with that aspect.
"Alan is a fantastic hurler. He had a lot of injuries last year and probably wasn't as sharp as he would like himself but he's had a clear run this year and he's back to his 2014 form. He's a fantastic trainer and he's hugely professional in every aspect of his hurling from his preparation to his diet and everything."
The opening stages had been to-and-fro, but while they were keeping pace with Cork, Dublin were having trouble from placed balls. They still led by 0-7 to 0-6 after 24 minutes before the excellent Cadogan struck for the goal, set up by Luke O'Farrell, who was full of tireless work all night.
While Crummey's dismissal for a second booking on the half-hour didn't really have an effect before half-time - Cork led by 1-10 to 0-11 at the break - the introduction of Conor O'Sullivan to play as the spare man was a good choice by the home management.
They looked to be edging clear thanks to the frees of Patrick Horgan, but Dublin weren't fully out of it, as evidenced by goal chances for Mark Schutte and the impressive Chris Bennett, both denied by Anthony Nash. David Treacy put over the '65 after the latter chance and then a free to leave two in it before Eamonn Dillon netted to put Dublin in front again.
Cork responded well with three quick points to wipe out the goal's impact, with sub Kearney to the fore, and a 1-22 to 1-18 lead with eight left had them looking safe.
Two points each from Treacy and wing-back Shane Barrett levelled matters but, crucially, Cork never fell behind. Bill Cooper and Kearney had points for them and though Dublin had a Treacy free in response, the equaliser remained elusive. Cadogan and Horgan wrapped things up for the hosts, leaving Dublin manager Ger Cunningham disappointed, but proud of his side.
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"Yeah, we're gutted," he said, "we came down to win. We came down to put up a good performance tonight and win the game … it's hard to put into words how you feel after a performance like that. To play 40 minutes with 14 men, and if we had got to the end of the game with a draw, for extra-time we'd have the man back.
"I'm just so proud of the lads - their commitment and their attitude in the second half was top-class. We had a bad second half against Kilkenny, and I think we went some way to redeeming ourselves tonight. So I'm very, very proud of them."
Even with the extra man, Cork weren't allowed to pull away and Cunningham paid tribute to his team for that.
"Again, it's just all down to attitude. I thought their commitment was superb; their never-say-die attitude. They really believed, coming down tonight, that we were going to win the game.
"And it made it difficult when you were down to 14 men but I think, in fairness to them, they showed great character, great attitude and brought it back and we were right there at the wire.
"If you look back at the game, we'll look at some missed chances that we had early in the game, from frees and things like that, unfortunately they didn't go over and they proved costly at the end."
And the future?
"After tonight we're just gutted. We came down, we were looking at winning tonight and looking forward to next weekend, going into the draw on Monday, which is not to be. So we'll sit back and reflect."
Scorers - Cork: P Horgan 0-12 (8f), A Cadogan 1-5, C Lehane 0-3, D Kearney 0-2, W Egan, B Cooper, L O'Farrell, B Lawton 0-1 each. Dublin: D Treacy 0-9 (7f, 1 '65), C Bennett, P Ryan (4f) 0-4 each, E Dillon 1-0, S Barrett, N McMorrow 0-2 each, J McCaffrey, C Crummey 0-1 each.
CORK - A Nash 8; M Ellis 6, D Cahalane 7, K Burke 6; A Walsh 6, C Joyce 7, C Murphy 6; W Egan 6, B Cooper 7; L O'Farrell 8, S Harnedy 5, J Cronin 6; A Cadogan 9, P Horgan 7, C Lehane 6. Subs: C O'Sullivan 7 for Murphy (h-t), D Kearney 8 for Cronin (46), B Lawton 6 for Egan (49), L McLoughlin 7 for Burke (63), S Kingston 6 for Harnedy (67).
DUBLIN - G Maguire 7; E O'Donnell 7, C O'Callaghan 6, J Madden 5; C Crummey 6, L Rushe 6, S Barrett 7; J McCaffrey 6, N McMorrow 6; D Treacy 7, R O'Dwyer 7, E Dillon 6; P Ryan 6, C Bennett 8, M Schutte 5. Subs: N Corcoran 7 for Madden (h-t), S Treacy 6 for Ryan (44), D O'Connell 6 for McCaffrey (46), F McGibb 6 for Schutte (62), D Plunkett 6 for Bennett (67).
Ref - P O'Dwyer (Carlow)