Cork: O’Shea; Carey; J. O’Sullivan (Cotter); Shields; D. O’Sullivan (0-1); P. Kissane; C. O’Driscoll; A. O’Connor (N. Murphy); A. Walsh (0-1); P. O’Neill (0-2); P. Kelly (0-4); F. Goold (0-1, Sheehan); D. O’Connor (0-2;0-1f); C. O’Neill (F. Lynch); Goulding (0-5; 0-2f).
Dublin: Cluxton; Hubbard; Murray; Fitzsimons; Lally (0-2, Nelson); McCarthy (0-1), Casey; Cahill (1-0); Bastick (0-1); Flynn; McManamon (1-1); Connolly (Cullen, 0-1); Quinn (1-1); O’Gara (A. Brogan); B. Brogan (0-6; 0-2f).
A disapointing performance and result for Cork as we went down to a defeat largely of our own making. Poor discipline in the first half, poor shooting throughout and a full-back line in disarray ensured an athletic and hard-working Dublin side won by a considerable margin in the end. Needless to say, the goals changed the game and the first and third in particular showed just how poorly the Cork full-back line played throughout – Quinn’s opening goal was a case of his man Ray Carey caught in no man’s land, rushing to intercept the ball, failing and finding himself ten yards off his man, while Cahill’s closer was thanks to five Cork defenders chasing the ball and no one watching the square (Jamie O’Sullivan in particular caught out here). In general, Tomas Quinn gave Carey a torrid time in the first half, and although Shields tried hard, Brogan did massive damage throughout both in scoring and assisting.
Despite the ultimately fatal performance of the full-back line, there was a few positives for Cork elsewhere. A dodgy start and some strong runs from McManamon and McCarthy aside, the half-back line did ok, Kissane holding his own despite not being match fit and O’Driscoll doing fine besides a few errand passes. Denis O’Sullivan was arguably the best Cork player on the pitch, confident enough to surge forward again and again, even to the point of slotting over a lovely point.
The midfield disapointed – I honestly didn’t notice Alan O’Connor was on the pitch until he was subbed, while Aidan Walsh had a fine first half but did little in the second. Thankfully, Pearse O’Neill picked up a lot of the ball-winning slack from kick-outs and gave one of his best performances for Cork in a couple of years, also scoring a couple of points from play. Similarly, Patrick Kelly at center-forward was almost certainly man of the match, popping over a number of cracking points and showing his typically impressive composure and style on the ball. The inside forwards played well at different points – Donnacha O’Connor started well but drifted out of the game as it went on, while Goulding struggled in the first half, getting the better of his man often but hitting poor wides before excelling throughout the second half. Colm O’Neill failed to make an impression against the nervy Dublin full-back, his erratic and speculative shooting still a problem whenever he wins the ball.
All in all, nothing to worry too much about. Cadogan and/or Canty would improve that full-back line immensely, although one worries about the decision to start Carey ahead of Cotter again. Things to be improved on – distribution poor, in particular handpassing. Lessons learnt – Jamie O’Sullivan too small and erratic for full-back, Fintan Goold increasingly looking too sluggish for inter-county football, Patrick Kelly makes an ideal center-forward. Final point – Dublin a lot fitter, and looked to have a lot more work done. No reason to panic.