Southern Star Ltd. logo
Premium Exclusives

Rebels’ ruthlessness fires Cork to victory and knockout stages

June 6th, 2024 7:30 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Rebels’ ruthlessness fires Cork to victory and knockout stages Image
Cork's Thomas Clancy and Donegal's Jamie Brennan in a battle for possession. (Photo: George Hatchell)

Share this article

Cork 3-9

Donegal 0-16


JOHN Cleary had become too accustomed to lamenting missed goal chances in post-match media interviews. It was his own version of Groundhog Day – but that cycle was broken in Páirc Uí Rinn.

After watching his team put three goals past Ulster champions Donegal – and Cork could have plundered even more – Cleary was able to point to the Rebels’ ruthlessness in front of goal as a key reason in a brilliant win that guarantees the Group 3 pace-setters progression to the knockout stages of the All-Ireland series.

Matty Taylor, with a rifled finish to match his long-bursting solo charge that started in his own half, rattled the net in the first half – that goal gave Cork a 1-3 to 0-3 lead after 20 minutes.

The next two goals arrived in a devastating two-minute spell early in the second half, first Sean Powter rattling the net after Cork carved Donegal open again. A sun-soaked Páirc Uí Rinn had just stopped shaking when, in the next attack, Rory Maguire palmed the ball to an empty net after Chris Óg Jones' saved shot fell perfectly for the inrushing Castlehaven man. From trailing at the break, 1-4 to 0-9, Cork now led 3-4 to 0-9. That lead swelled to five when Brian Hurley swung over a 30-metre free minutes later, 3-5 to 0-9.

While Donegal did point their way back to level this Group 3 tie with three minutes left, 3-7 to 0-16, late scores from sub Stephen Sherlock and Colm O'Callaghan clinched a huge win for Cleary’s men.

It’s encouraging, too, that Cork didn’t wilt when Donegal drew level. At that stage a draw would have felt like a defeat for the home side, but they summoned up the energy, roared on by the home support, to go again, evidenced by O’Callaghan’s late point that had fans off their seats as the Rebels attacked in numbers after a crucial turnover in defence.

‘We got three goals and that was the big difference,’ the Cork boss stated. ‘All year we have been missing two or three goal chances – and there were a couple missed today as well – but the three we scored got us over the line.

‘It’s something we are very good at – we’re very good at turning over, we’re very good on the break, and being clinical and finishing the goals chance is something we are not good at but we’ll keep practicing and keep at it. Hopefully the real day it matters we’ll kick on.’

It mattered on Saturday as Cork inflicted a first defeat of the year on Jim McGuinness’s Donegal side. When the Rebels’ attacked at speed, the Ulster side looked flustered.

The dangerous Patrick McBrearty did kick 0-7, including four from play, but the Cork defence gave up no notable goal chances apart from a Chris Kelly save from McBrearty. Instead, Cork took three of theirs. Others were left behind, like when Hurley and O’Callaghan’s efforts were saved by last-gasp Donegal defending at the end of the first half. Chris Óg Jones opted for a point in that half too when he had sight of goal. Still, in the end it was Cork’s goals that made the difference. More of the same, please.



Cork: M Taylor, R Maguire, S Powter 1-0 each; B Hurley 0-3 (2f); C Óg Jones, C O’Callaghan 0-2 each; P Walsh, S Sherlock 0-1 each.

Donegal: P McBrearty 0-7 (3f); O Gallen 0-3 (2f); C Moore 0-2; N O’Donnell, C McGonagle, R McHugh, O Doherty 0-1 each.


Cork: C Kelly; K Flahive, D O’Mahony, M Shanley; R Maguire, T Walsh, M Taylor; I Maguire, C O’Callaghan; P Walsh, S Powter, B O’Driscoll; C Jones, M Cronin, B Hurley.

Subs: Conor Corbett for Sean Powter (45), S Sherlock for Jones (47), T Clancy for T Walsh (57), R Deane for Cronin (65), E McSweeney for Hurley (68), S Meehan for P Walsh (70+3).

Donegal: S Patton; E Gallagher, B McCole, C Moore; R McHugh, C McGonagle, P Mogan; J McGee, M Langan; S O’Donnell, C Thompson, D Ó Baoill; P McBrearty, O Gallen, N O’Donnell.

Subs: A Doherty for Ó Baoill (ht); O Doherty for McGee (40); J Brennan for N O’Donnell (53), J Brennan for Niall O’Donnell (53), J Mac Ceallabhuí for S O’Donnell (61).

Referee: B Griffin (Kerry).

Tags used in this article

Share this article

Related content