Sport Hurling

Friday 24 November 2017

Barry-Murphy plays down lofty status

Cork 1-26 Offaly 2-16

John Fallon

The big question leaving Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday evening was whether Cork have gone backwards since their loss to Tipperary or had Offaly improved substantially from their heavy defeat to Galway.

Certainly, Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy was anxious afterwards to play down the status of his men, although he was pleased with the manner in which they dealt with the surprisingly strong challenge of their opponents.

Indeed, had Offaly more penetration in attack, then Cork might have been in serious trouble, but, having said that, the Rebels always looked good to tack on a few points and pull away.

"We know we are not as good as some people are making out," said Barry-Murphy. "I thought our performance against Tipperary was very good and it is difficult to play the first qualifier after a defeat like that, but the fact that we got a home draw was a big help to us."

The crowd of 10,136 got plenty of value for money. Offaly could have made it a tighter finish, but they lost their way in the second-half.

"The score flattered us, but we conceded a soft goal from a free again," said Barry-Murphy. "We were pretty comfortable at that stage when they got the goal, but to win by seven certainly flattered us, it was never a game like that. Offaly are a very, very good side; they are better than people realise."


Manager Ollie Baker was pleased with the midlanders' display, but he lamented the fact they did not push Cork harder in the second-half.

"We didn't come here for a good performance. It know it is a cliche, but we came down here to win," he said. "I have 30 lads inside in that dressing-room after putting in huge efforts. They made a lot of sacrifices and are not going to have a competitive fixture again until next February.

"To develop as a team, we can't be competitive on a consistent basis without matches. We are out of the championship this year, but there are a lot of lads there that want to play hurling, so maybe there should be a re-look at the structure and try to find a formula to make that happen."

Baker said he was anxious to stay on and after the progress made this year, Offaly will surely be glad to have him at the helm next season. But they will need to develop more attacking options and develop players who can take on their man.

They moved the ball superbly at times, but really needed some forwards to go toe-to-toe in the second-half and win the hard yards.

A superb half-back line of Derek Morkan, Rory Hanniffy and Diarmuid Horan gave them a strong platform in the opening half, but, while Colin Egan rifled home a fine goal after 11 minutes, they were unable to contain Pat Horgan at the other end and the Cork skipper went on a spree, scoring 1-8 by the break.

The goal after 19 minutes showed the penetration lacking against Tipp, when strong handpasses saw Pa Cronin and Paudie O'Sullivan put Horgan through and he blasted home.

However, Cork blew at least half a dozen goal-scoring chances in the second-half, with the likes of Cian McCarthy undermining a good display by taking the wrong option.

The game was played at a good tempo, but Jamie Coughlan was lucky to escape with just yellow for a jab at James Rigney before the break, while Offaly's Morkan looked set to walk before getting away with a 'tick,' after he'd already been booked, for a lunge at Daniel Kearney.

Cork led by 1-12 to 1-10 at the break, but two points from Shane Dooley and one from Joe Bergin directly after the restart hinted at a shock, However, Conor Lehane levelled with a wonderful point and Cork proceeded to land five more, including a second monster free from goalkeeper Anthony Nash.

Three Offaly points reduced the margin to two with nine minutes left, but Cork pulled away again and a Dooley goal from a 25-metre free was preceded by five Cork points and followed by three more as they advanced with ease.

Scorers -- Cork: P Horgan 1-10 (7f), C McCarthy

0-5 (3 '65s', 1f), C Lehane 0-3, A Nash (2f), S Moylan 0-2 each, P Cronin, L McLoughlin, S Kearney, C Naughton 0-1 each. Offaly: S Dooley 1-6 (1-3f,

1 '65'), C Egan 1-0, J Bergin 0-3, D Morkan 0-2, S Ryan, B Murphy, B Carroll, C Mahon, D Molloy 0-1 each.

Cork -- A Nash 8; C O'Sullivan 6, S O'Neill 6, B Murphy 6; T Kenny 8, C Joyce 7, W Egan 7; D Sweetnam 7, L McLoughlin 7; P Cronin 7, C McCarthy 7, C Lehane 7; J Coughlan 6, P O'Sullivan 7, P Horgan 8. Subs: D Kearney 7 for Sweetnam (41), L O'Farrell 7 for Coughlan (43), C Naughton 6 for McLoughlin (54), S Moylan 7 for P O'Sullivan (64), N McCarthy 6 for Cronin (69).

Offaly -- E Kelly 7; C Hernon 5, D Kenny 7, J Rigney 6; D Morkan 8, R Hanniffy 7, D Horan 7 ; K Brady 6, S Ryan 6; C Egan6 , C Mahon7 , B Murphy 6; S Dooley 7, J Bergin 7, B Carroll 6. Subs: D Franks 6 for Hernon (23), C Parlon 6 for Carroll (49), D Molloy 6 for Murphy (56), D Mooney 6 for Brady (62), T Carroll 6 for Egan (66).

Ref -- M Wadding (Waterford)

Irish Independent

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