Cork had the statisticians scrambling yesterday afternoon as the Rebels smashed 10 goals past a hapless Laois at O'Moore Park yesterday's All Ireland preliminary round qualifier. Initial suggestions were that it was the highest championship score since Wexford blitzed Antrim for 12-17 in the 1954 All-Ireland semi-final. Certainly, it was so unusual that it caused one of the scoreboards to malfunction, unable as it was to register the goal tally.
It was a day to make hay if you were a Cork forward and Patrick Horgan led the way by scoring 3-11, with only 0-5 coming from play. Paudie O'Sullivan also bagged three goals and even substitute Jamie Coughlan scored two in his 20-odd minutes of action.
Laois manager Brendan Fennelly had labelled it a no-lose situation and called for a gutsy effort. To be fair, he got it initially as the wind-assisted hosts burst out of the traps with Neil Foyle firing over two points in the opening minute.
John Brophy's 11th minute point meant that Laois were still two points ahead but Horgan drilled his first goal two minutes later, after taking a clever low ball from impressive debutant Bill Cooper. Paudie O'Sullivan rattled the net in the 16th minute when taking the sliothar down in breathtaking fashion from another Cooper delivery before slamming beyond Paddy Mullaney.
They were given a massive boost when Willie Hyland outmuscled Eoin Cadogan under the high ball to fetch and bury a shot beyond Donal Óg Cusack in the 29th minute, reducing the margin to two. Luke Farrell hit back four minutes later though and Cork led by 3-9 to 1-8 at half time. The expectation was that the Rebels would open up with the elements in their favour after the resumption, but nobody could have guessed what was about to unfold. With more and more space becoming available around the pitch as the second half progressed, the gulf in class became increasingly evident.
Ger Reddin actually pointed for Laois early on but the Moores were outscored by 7-11 to 0-5 in the second half as the Rebels ran riot. Horgan had already slotted four points before Sullivan began a run of five goals in nine minutes as a ruthless Cork took no mercy on their demoralised opponents.
Sullivan and Horgan both shook the net before Cooper struck a lovely goal. Sullivan and Horgan also struck to stretch the margin to 26 points. Matthew Whelan (free), Brophy and Hyland offered temporary respite but in the final eight minutes, Cork shot 2-5, Coughlan gleefully helping himself to two majors.
The Rebels move on to what will surely be a much stiffer challenge against Offaly. Where Laois go from here is anybody's guess.
Scorers -- Cork: P Horgan 3-11 (0-6f); P O'Sullivan 3-1; B Cooper 1-3; J Coughlan 2-0; L O'Farrell 1-0; N McCarthy 0-3; B O'Connor, J Gardiner (f) 0-1 each. Laois: W Hyland 1-4 (0-1f); J Brophy 0-3; N Foyle, M Whelan (2f) 0-2 each; N Costelloe, G Reddin 0-1 each
Cork: D Óg Cusack; S McDonnell, E Cadogan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, W Egan, S O'Neill; T Kenny, P Cronin; B O'Connor, B Cooper, N McCarthy; L O'Farrell, P O'Sullivan, P Horgan . Subs: J Coughlan for O'Farrell (48); J O'Connor for Cronin (55); R Curran for Gardiner (55); C O'Sullivan for Murphy (57); C Naughton for McCarthy (57).
Laois: P Mullaney; JA Delaney, B Campion, C Dunne; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, B Galvin; J Walsh, S Burke; N Costelloe, G Reddin, W Hyland; N Foyle, O Holohan, J Brophy. Subs: S Dollard for Holohan (47); W Dunphy for Burke (56); J Prior for Dunne (62); D Peacock for Reddin (65)
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)
Sunday Indo Sport