KIERAN McCARTHY REPORTS FROM THURLES
BOOK your tickets for Croke Park next Saturday evening, Cork are heading to the Super 8s for the first time – and a date with All-Ireland champions Dublin awaits.
The Rebels outclassed Laois in this Round 4 qualifier in Thurles on Saturday evening with the lethal Brian Hurley striking 2-4 from play, his two goals coming in the third quarter as Cork made their winning move.
It was Hurley’s best game for Cork since his return from his hamstring nightmare.
The Rebels led 0-12 to 0-7 after a strong finish to the first half, but they made their class tell in the early stages of the second half. Hurley, soccer-style, cushioned the ball to the net, after a pass from Mark Collins, who was found with a superb searching diagonal ball from half-time sub Paul Kerrigan.
The excellent Liam O’Donovan followed with a point, then Hurley with a point before Castlehaven man Hurley goaled again with a clinical finish. When Collins pointed, Cork led 2-15 to 0-7. It was game over.
When Collins goaled, set-up by Hurley, it was 3-17 to 0-9, and while Laois did narrow the gap in the final quarter, Cork already had one eye on Croke Park next Saturday evening and the date with the Dubs. That game has a 7pm throw-in.
There was still time for Kerrigan to add a fourth Cork goal and make it 11 goals in three games for the clinical Rebels.
Cork: M Collins 1-8 (3f), B Hurley 2-4, P Kerrigan 1-1, S Sherlock (1 45), R Deane 0-2 each, K O’Driscoll, R O’Toole, L O’Donovan 0-1 each.
Laois: D Kingston 0-10 (7f), M Scully 1-0, E Lowry, T Collins, C Murphy, M Barry, E O’Carroll 0-1 each.
Cork: M White; K O’Donovan, J Loughrey, K Flahive; L O’Donovan, Thomas Clancy, M Taylor; I Maguire, K O’Hanlon; K O’Driscoll, S White, R Deane; L Connolly, B Hurley, M Collins.
Subs: R O’Toole for K O’Hanlon (20, inj), P Kerrigan for Connolly (35), Tomás Clancy for Thomas Clancy (44), A Browne for Loughrey (45), M Hurley for B Hurley (53), S Cronin for I Maguire (61).
Laois: G Brody; S Attride, D Booth, G Dillon; T Collins, R Pigott, P O’Sullivan; J O’Loughlin, K Lillis; D O’Reilly, D Kingston, M Scully; E Lowry, C Murphy, P Kingston.
Subs: C Begley for O’Sullivan (ht), E O’Carroll for P Kingston (44), S Byrne for O’Reilly (46), M Barry for Murphy (46), S O’Flynn for Dillon (63).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).