KIERAN McCARTHY REPORTS
CORK boss Ronan McCarthy saw plenty of positives as the Rebels got life in Division 3 off to a winning start on Saturday.
On a cold night at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, it took the home side time to warm up, but once they got into their stride in the second half, their extra class told.
The Rebels trailed at half time by 0-9 to 0-8, having fallen four points behind at one stage in the opening half after Offaly reeled off six points in a row, but Cork bossed the second half with half-time sub Castlehaven Michael Hurley leading the charge with 0-5 in the second half.
This was an important win for Cork as they needed to get their Division 3 league campaign off to a positive start, with promotion a priority.
‘You probably need ten points to get out of the division. If you lose your first game, then you need to win five of your remaining six matches to guarantee yourself promotion,’ Ronan McCarthy said afterwards.
‘We have come out of a difficult game, we controlled it well at the end and we have our two points. We have a lot of positives like four U20s started, Peter Murphy came on and made his debut, Tadhg Corkery came on and did well, Ciarán Sheehan obviously back, a lot of fellas like Kevin Crowley, Sean Powter, Sam Ryan were back. Overall, it’s been a positive evening for us.’
In the first half, Cork struggled for long stretches despite an encouraging start when they moved 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after 11 minutes with Sean White, Ruairi Deane and Ciarán Sheehan all on target, but then Offaly took over for a period and reeled off six points in a row to take control.
Bernard Allen (3), Anton Sullivan, Ruairi McNamee and Cian Johnson all scored, including some superb points, with Offaly ahead 0-7 to 0-3 after 23 minutes. A Ciarán Sheehan point in the 24th minute broke Offaly’s momentum, and Sean White quickly added another to reduce the gap to two, 0-7 to 0-5.
The sides swapped two points each, Cathail O’Mahony on target twice for the home side (including a point that the umpire initially waved wide but the referee over-ruled), and the same player nailed a free in injury time to leave a single point between the teams at half time, 0-9 to 0-8.
Michael Hurley made an instant impact in the second half, scoring within two minutes of his half-time introduction to level the game. Points from Brian Hartnett, Kevin Crowley and Sheehan saw Cork move in front, 0-12 to 0-9, and they were motoring better now, using their pace.
A free from Bernard Allen in the 50th minute was Offaly’s first score of the half, but Hurley added two more as Cork led 0-14 to 0-10 after the third quarter.
In charge now, Cork were flexing their muscles and Offaly were fading, a shadow of the team that caused all those problems in the first half. Subs, John O’Rourke, Michael Hurley and Tadhg Corkery, were all on target in the final quarter, as the home side eased to a very welcome winning start. Next up, Leitrim away.
Cork: Michael Hurley 0-5 (1f); Cathail O’Mahony 0-3 (2f); Ciarán Sheehan 0-3 (1f); Sean White, John O’Rourke 0-2 each; Ruairi Deane, Brian Hartnett, Kevin Crowley, Colm O’Callaghan, Tadhg Corkery 0-1 each. Offaly: Ruairi McNamee 0-4 (2f); Bernard Allen 0-4 (1f); Anton Sullivan 0-4, Cian Johnson 0-1.
Cork: M Martin (Nemo Rangers); S Powter (Douglas), S Ryan (St Finbarr’s), P Ring (Aghabullogue); K Crowley (Millstreet), L O'Donovan (Clonakilty), M Taylor (Mallow); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), T Clancy (Clonakilty); B Hartnett (Douglas), S White (Clonakilty), R Deane (Bantry); D Gore (Kilmacabea), C Sheehan (Éire Óg), C O'Mahony (Mitchelstown). Subs: M Hurley (Castlehaven) for Gore (ht), J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) for Clancy (50), C O’Callaghan (Éire Óg) for C O’Mahony (55), T Corkery (Cill na Martra) for L O’Donovan (58), P Murphy (Bandon) for C Sheehan (67).
Offaly: P Dunican; D Hogan, E Rigney, N Darby; E Carroll, D Dempsey, J Hayes; C Mangan, M Brazil; S Horan, R McNamee, C McNamee; A Sullivan, B Allen, C Johnson. Subs: R McEvoy for C McNamee (16), C Donohue for R McEvoy (48), M Abbot for C Johnson (55), J Dempsey for M Brazil (58), C Donnelly for Horan (64).
Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).