Thursday 14 December 2017

Dublin light up the night to sweep champions aside

DUBLIN 3-13 CORK 0-16

Dublin's Tomas Brady gets the better of this tussle with Pa Bourke of Tipperary in their Allianz Hurling League clash in Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Dublin's Tomas Brady gets the better of this tussle with Pa Bourke of Tipperary in their Allianz Hurling League clash in Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile


TABLE toppers Dublin delivered a confident and assured display that saw them notch a convincing win over All-Ireland champions Cork last night.

With two wins on the trot they surge to the top of Division 1 and look more poised and threatening with every outing. Apart from their usual hard work and diligence they now boast a greater spread of scorers and are conceding fewer frees. It looks like they are capable of raising flags from any position and while they won't get carried away in February, all the signs are positive.

Cork shot 12 wides and looked shaky in defence. Seldom have they conceded three goals, and the worst thing was that all the goals came from ponderous defending, and their opponents were able to take advantage of almost every mistake.

But it was only in the final quarter that Dublin pulled away, looking fitter and more composed with the likes of Barry Cahill, Kevin McManamon, Denis Bastick and Bernard Brogan all performing exceptionally well.

Cork were best served by Daniel Goulding once again, but their second half challenge was way below par.

Overall, the game was an end to end, open affair, with Cork bursting into an early lead before being quickly hauled back as events unfolded. They would never recover.

By the break Dublin led 2-5 to 0-8, the goals coming courtesy of two assists from Bernard Brogan. After 20 minutes, he slid a deft pass into the path of Mossy Quinn who shot to the back of the net. Four minutes later, he connected with Kevin McManamon who finished off a lovely four-man move to leave the home side 2-4 to 0-5 ahead. There were clear signs of deadly summer potency in each of those attacks.

Both forward units looked dangerous, however, with Dublin's Quinn in particular putting in a serious shift, tracking back as well as looking impressive up front. Still, while Pat Gilroy's men's industry levels were typically high they did look to be vulnerable enough from midfield backwards. With the likes of Michael Darragh MacAuley and Bryan Cullen pulling out before the game, a bit of experience was missing, although Cullen was introduced as a second-half substitute.

Yet, there was plenty on the menu for the 35,028 in attendance. At one end, for example, Stephen Cluxton was as imperious as ever, saving magnificently from Pearse O'Neill in the dying embers of the half. At the other end, Eoghan O'Gara could have had 1-1 notched up had he not been hesitant in possession.

Cork were wasteful after a bright opening but despite shooting seven wides in the first half they always looked capable of pushing on. Apart from O'Neill's goal chance they had at least four other scoreable efforts that whizzed wide.

O'Neill, Aidan Walsh and Donnacha O'Connor put an early stamp on proceedings but Dublin's goals saw Cork go from two points up to five points down in an eight minute period. Both goals came from moves that started out the field, with the Cork half forward line struggling, leaving the Cork full back line unprotected.

They rose an early gallop in the second half, however, with Denis O'Sullivan, Paddy Kelly, Daniel Goulding and Pearse O'Neill all pointing on the trot. In response, Dublin's Declan Lally hit his second of the day and was rewarded with the shepherd's crook, being replaced after 45 minutes. Cullen came on moments after as did Nicholas Murphy for Cork and with 23 minutes to go it was 2-7 to 0-12 and poised for a cracking finish.

The Rebels' momentum was broken with Barry Cahill's goal just shy of 50 minutes after a dreadful mix-up in the Cork defence to stretch the lead to four points again. In keeping with the nature of the game, Cluxton had to make another point blank save from just seconds later. These moments turned the game on its head. Cork struggled from there and couldn't pull the margin back, leaving Dublin sitting pretty with two wins on the trot.

So, a lively night at headquarters leaving Cork with lots to work on. They are unlikely to be pressing the panic buttons just yet, however, and if these two meet again later in the year it promises to be an explosive encounter.

Scorers -- Dublin: B Brogan 0-6 (4f), T Quinn 1-1, B Cahill, K McManamon 1-0 each, D Lally 0-2, D Bastick, D Connolly, J McCarthy, B Cullen (0-1 each. Cork: D Goulding 0-5 (1f, 1'45), P O'Neill 0-4, D O'Connor (1f),P Kelly 0-2 each, A Walsh, F Goold, D O'Sullivan 0-1 each.

Dublin: S Cluxton, M Fitzsimons, S Murray, A Hubbard, P Casey, J McCarthy, D Lally, D Bastick, B Cahill, P Flynn, K McManamon, D Connolly, B Brogan, E O'Gara, T Quinn. Subs: D Nelson for D Lally (43), B Cullen for D Connolly (47), A Brogan for E O'Gara (55), P Andrews for T Quinn (61), C Murphy for P Flynn (65)

Cork: P O'Shea, R Carey, J O'Sullivan, M Shields, D O'Sullivan, P Kissane, C O'Driscoll, A O'Connor, A Walsh, P O'Neill, P Kelly, F Goold, D Goulding, C O'Neill, D O'Connor. Subs: N Murphy for A O'Connor (47), F Lynch for C O'Neill (55), C Sheehan for F Goold (55), E Cotter for J O'Sullivan (64)

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)

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