/ GAA

Cork 2-17 Offaly 2-16

Updated: Saturday, 25 Jun 2011 23:12

Three goals in the opening 15 minutes ignited the game in Cork
Three goals in the opening 15 minutes ignited the game in Cork

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Fourteen-man Cork overcame a stiff test from Offaly in this All-Ireland SHC qualifier at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The Rebels had early goals from Cian McCarthy and Luke O’Farrell before midfielder Pa Cronin was sent-off for a striking offence.

Colin Egan netted for Offaly who hit a number of wides as they failed to take full advantage of the wind behind them. Cork led by 2-07 to 1-07 at half-time.

The 7,569-strong crowd watched Pat Horgan extend the hosts’ advantage in the second half, but a late goal from Shane Dooley made for a nervy finish.

Horgan, fresh from his hat-trick heroics against Laois, top-scored again with 0-10 (0-05f), with captain Dooley, whose injury-time ‘65’ was deflected past Donal Óg Cusack, leading the way for his Offaly side with 1-09.

The game was only two minutes’ old when a long ball in from John Gardiner was broken by Horgan and Cian McCarthy swooped to drive the ball into the roof of the net.

Offaly were stung into action and after two quick points from Dooley and Joe Bergin, the former did well in a crowded Cork defence to set up Egan for his eighth minute goal.

Just moments later, O’Farrell capped off a good move from the Cork forwards, with Paudie O’Sullivan providing the final pass, to fire home Cork’s second major.

When the game settled down, it was clear that Offaly were more than a match for the home side. They were on the end of heavy defeats when they met Cork in the Championship in both 2007 (1-27 to 0-11) and 2009 (3-19 to 1-12), but this was a much tighter affair.

The teams were level at 2-01 to 1-04 and then 2-02 to 0-05, but the Faithfuls were soon back in front.

Cork’s task grew more difficult when Cronin received a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident involving Conor Mahon.

However, Offaly’s wides tally was increasing all the time and they had registered 11 by the break.

They also had a rasping shot from Egan that came back off the crossbar and Cork goalkeeper Cusack saved from Dooley, who was responsible for some of those wayward point attempts.

Cork did just enough to creep ahead as points from Jerry O’Connor and Horgan (0-02) gave them the lead at the interval, and Horgan kickstarted the second half’s scoring.

O’Sullivan tagged on another point to make it 2-09 to 1-07 and the Rebels were beginning to look a bit more comfortable, with Offaly failing to make use of the extra man.

Horgan pressed on with further scores and by the 50th minute Cork were 2-13 to 1-09 ahead. Denis Walsh’s men showed their experience during this spell, showing a clinical edge in attack and distributing well around the pitch.

But Offaly raised their game in the final 20 minutes. Standing out was Daniel Currams, who was moved from centre-field onto the forty and scored some fine points from play. In addition, Dooley was showing more accuracy from placed balls.

The gap was down to five points before Horgan and Dooley shared out four points past the hour mark. Substitute Tom Kenny landed a relieving point for Cork in the 67th minute.

That score came amid a spate of wides from the home side and there were missed goal chances for Offaly substitute Cathal Parlon and also Currams, who was thwarted by Cusack.

When Dooley delighted the travelling support by converting from the right sideline, the game was still in the melting pot at 2-17 to 1-16.

Cusack continued to frustrate the Offaly forwards, this time saving a low shot from Mahon after he was teed up by Currams. Somehow, the resulting ‘65’ which Dooley dropped in short managed to find its way into the net and suddenly it was a one-point game.

Despite a number of stoppages during the second half for injuries and substitutes, referee Michael Wadding only saw fit to play one minute of additional time.

So Offaly, who felt that they had the momentum to push on for an equalising point, were understandably angered when the final whistle was blown shortly after the goal. But those 16 wides were really at the heart of their frustration.

CORK: D Óg Cusack; S McDonnell, E Cadogan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, W Egan, S O’Neill (0-01); J O’Connor (0-02), P Cronin; B O’Connor (0-02), C McCarthy (1-00), N McCarthy; L O’Farrell (1-00), P O’Sullivan (0-01), P Horgan 0-10 (0-05f).

Subs used: R Curran for Egan (55 mins), T Kenny (0-01) for N McCarthy, C Naughton for O’Farrell (both 59), B Cooper for C McCarthy (63).

OFFALY: J Dempsey; S Egan, D Kenny, C McDonald; D Hayden, R Hanniffy, D Morkan; D Currams (0-05), C Egan (1-00); J Mulrooney, J Bergin (0-01), C Mahon (0-01); S Dooley (1-09, 0-07f, 1-00 ‘65’), G Healion, B Carroll.

Subs used: B Mulrooney for S Egan (14 mins), B Murphy for Carroll (half-time), C Parlon for J Mulrooney (65), J Brady for Murphy (68).

Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary)