Cork: K. O’Halloran; E. Cadogan; M. Shields; R. Carey (J. O’Sullivan); J. Miskella; N. O’Leary; P. Kissane; A. O’Connor; A. Walsh (0-2; D. O’Sullivan); F. Goold; P. O’Neill (P. Kelly); C. Sheehan (0-2); D. Goulding (0-7; 0-3f); F. Lynch (D. O’Connor 2-3; 1-1f); P. Kerrigan (0-1; P. O’Flynn).
Armagh: P. Hearty; A. Mallon (0-1); B. Toner; B. Donaghy; A. Kernan (1-2; 0-1f); V. Martin; K. Dyas (D. McKenna); J. Lavery; C. Vernon; M. Mackin (A. Duffy); BJ. Padden (0-1; F. Hanratty); P. Duffy (T. Kernan); J. Clarke (0-4); S. McDonnell (0-4; 0-3f); M. O’Rourke (G. Swift).
A satisfying victory over a hard-working Armagh side capped another impressive league campaign for Cork under Conor Counihan and earned Cork a league final in Croker against Dublin. For fifty minutes a wasteful Cork struggled to deal with Armagh’s ability to work hard, track back and get men behind the ball before Eoin Cadogan’s sending off, the infleunce of Donnacha O’Connor and Armagh’s inferior fitness sparked a storming Cork finish. From one point of view Cork started another game at a lackluster pace, Cork hitting a number of bad wides in the first half and struggling to break down the Armagh defence; in the second half though a number of individuals excelled and the spirit shown after Cadogan’s sending off was impressive.
For Cork, probably the MOTM award could be given to either Paudie Kissane, Daniel Goulding or Donnacha O’Connor. Kissane was brilliant throughout, solid in possession and a real driving force in the all-important final five minutes of the game; Goulding was largely unmarkable throughout, and even though he missed a number of scores and frees he tormented the Armagh defence, particularly in the first half, while Donnacha O’Connor offered a real target at full-forward when he came on and scored a pair of goals including a penalty he made. Elsewhere, Aidan Walsh and Ciaran Sheehan played well consdiering their exploits mid-week and contributed two points a piece, including a long distance beauty by Walsh with the outside of his foot. Elsewhere John Miskella, Micheal Shields and Noel O’Leary putting in solid shifts defensively throughout.
Elsewhere some performances were less impressive. Cadogan had probably his worst performance of the league, getting badly caught out for the goal a few yards to many in front of his man before getting sent off for a petulant swing back at McDonnell straight in front of the refeere. With our lack of depth in terms of inside backs Cadogan’s loss will be huge for the league final. Ray Carey had another hard game, this time against a flying James Clarke, and with Jamie O’Sullivan’s form not very strong far too much pressure will be on Shield’s shoulder for the Dublin game. Elsewhere, Fiachra lynch was disapointing at full-forward, struggling badly to hold on to the ball and completely failing to impact on the game.
Regarding Armagh, although their performance wasn’t exactly inspiring, they did work hard and did a good job of frustrating Cork. Playing with a two man full-forward line they always had extra men in defence and with a mobile middle third did a good job in the first half of counter-attacking and getting the ball to their star forward James Clarke in space. In the first half at least Toner did a good job against Lynch, and looked strong in the tackle, but struggled badly against O’Connor in the second half. Similarly Padden struggled at center-forward, and seems to be the kind of player that flatters to decieve, looking stylish on the ball but often achieving little and certainly not good enough to play the pinnacle position in Armagh’s attack. Finally, Cork reacted much better then Armagh to the sending off and it was clear going into the very end of the game that Cork were much fitter then their opponents. Nonetheless, Armagh stayed up and with McDonnell and Clarke will take some watching if Cork should meet them again.