As the All Ireland champions Offaly relinquished their crown at Croke Park yesterday match referee Dickie Murphy came in for considerable criticism from the faithful county. Murphy, regarded by many as the best hurling referee in the country, did disallow an Offaly point early in the first half but he had clearly blown the whistle for a foul by the Offaly man on Diarmuid O’Sullivan. Later Offaly's John Troy was adjudged to have picked the sliothar off the ground and a free was awarded to the Rebel County. Offaly claim that some of Murphy's decisions were dubious and Cork, in fact scored two crucial points during almost four minutes of first half injury time.
Offaly's disappointment is understandable considering how well they played in what was a tremendous game of hurling. Many of their older players may now consider bowing out of inter-county competition. Cork's young guns, in contrast, have an All Ireland final to look forward to and an opportunity to recapture old glories.
Cork saw off the brave challenge of last year's All-Ireland champions before an attendance of over 37,000 in Croke Park on Sunday. In a tight game both defences worked hard, with Brian Whelahan in superb form for Offaly and Cork's Brian Corcoran more than playing his part in their victory. The forwards on both teams pulled off some super points in a first half that neither side could dominate. John Ryan & Johnny Dooley opened the scoring for Offaly, but Cork were level after 8 minutes through Fergal McCormack and Joe Deane. The sides were level on four occasions in the first half, but it was Offaly who led at the break by 0-10 to 0-09. Points from O'Connell, McCarthy, Browne and O'Connor put Cork ahead after the re-start, but Offaly pulled back to level on 56 minutes. Johnny Dooley had edged them ahead with 9 minutes remaining, but Cork piled on the pressure and finished with five unanswered points for a deserved victory.
Meanwhile, Kilkenny, who take on Clare in next Sunday's other semi-final, could be without centre half back Eamon Kennedy who is suffering from an ankle ligament injury. There are also doubts about the fitness of defender Tom Hickey.