Friday 15 December 2017

Early goals help Cork march on

CORK 3-24

DAMIAN LAWLOR at Semple Stadium

AN assured second-half display from Cork saw them through to the All-Ireland hurling quarter-final after a comfortable win over Wexford at Thurles yesterday.

After battling hard to stay in touch at half-time Wexford wasted a number of opportunities and coughed up easy possession to fall off into the distance as a cuter and more experienced Cork outfit eased home.

The intensity of the game died out in the second half as the Cork defence, led by Brian Murphy, closed out the opposition attack.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy's side will improve from this game and they will need to if they are to progress further. But they are showing great promise in attack with lovely acute balls being drilled into their forwards. Around the field the likes of Murphy, Shane O'Neill, Luke O'Farrell and Niall McCarthy put in tremendous shifts to ensure progress past Liam Dunne's side. They also have a formidable bench to call upon to freshen up their ranks.

Before the game Dunne made his customary raft of changes, bringing in Eoin Quigley, Eoin Moore and Harry Kehoe onto his first 15 after they were named on the subs list. He put Keith Rossiter on Patrick Horgan and trusted Matthew O'Hanlon on the pacy Luke O'Farrell.

While Rossiter did fine in the first half, O'Hanlon struggled to contain the speedy O'Farrell. He got little support from his fellow defenders either and was left isolated on three occasions.

And O'Farrell, economic to the last, hit 2-1 in the space of 15 minutes. Those scores effectively sealed the win.

Wexford will rue that his second goal was so soft -- Eanna Martin, the Wexford 'keeper, watched a high ball floating in but dwelled too long and in nipped the Cork man to tip it past him.

After 21 minutes goalkeeper Anthony Nash came up the field to rasp an unstoppable penalty home which put Cork in the driving seat. Niall McCarthy worked his socks off around the field and shot two lovely long-range points as well as Cork got the better of the midfield exchanges and resultant breaking ball. Those scores alone should have put Cork out of sight but Wexford, however, hit back every time they rattled the net.

Shaun Murphy, on as a blood sub, slipped a deft pass to Diarmuid Lyng who rifled home a beautiful goal immediately quickly after O'Farrell's first for Cork to leave the Purple and Gold side in touch.

He also cut two beautiful, long-range sideline cuts over the bar, relying solely on technique to reduce the arrears.

By half-time they trailed by only two points -- a considerable achievement considering they had leaked three goals. Harry Kehoe looked impressive, Jack Guiney's long-range free-taking was spot on and Cork, who hit eight wides in the first 35 minutes, couldn't pull clear and only led 3-7 -- 1-11 at the break.

Wexford should have pushed on from there but with five minutes left they trailed by nine points. Gareth Sinnott pulled a goal back capitalising on a long ball into the square.

Anthony Nash, who was superb throughout, was raging with his defence. It was the only blemish on an otherwise clean sheet.

Wexford's day ended on a sour note as David Redmond received a second yellow on the stroke of full-time. Lots to work on for Wexford in the future but Cork are on their way to the quarter-finals.

Scorers - Cork: L O'Farrell 2-2, P Horgan 0-6 (5f), A Nash 1-1 (pen, 0-1f), N McCarthy 0-4, C Lehane, P O'Sullivan, P Cronin, J Coughlan 0-2 each, L McLoughlin, C Naughton, C McCarthy 0-1 each; Wexford: D Lyng 1-3 (0-1f, 0-2s/c), G Sinnott 1-2, J Guiney 0-5 (3f), R Jacob 0-3, H Kehoe 0-2, D Redmond, L Og McGovern 0-1 each.

Cork: A Nash, S O'Neill, D Cahalane, B Murphy, T Kenny, E Cadogan, W Egan, L McLoughlin, P Cronin, C Lehane, C McCarthy, N McCarthy, P O'Sullivan, L O'Farrell, P Horgan. Subs: D Sweetnam for L McLoughlin (49), C Naughton for C Lehane (59), S Og O hAIlpin for W Egan (63), J Coughlan for N McCarthy (66), S Moylan for C McCarthy (70)

Wexford: E Martin, E Moore, M O'Hanlon, K Rossiter, D Stamp, R Kehoe, C Kenny, D Redmond, E Quigley, G Sinnott, H Kehoe, D Lyng, P Morris, R Jacob, J Guiney. Subs: L Og McGovern for H Kehoe (42), S Murphy for P Morris (61), S Banville for E Quigley (67)

Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary)

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