Cork: K. O’Halloran; R. Carey; M. Shields; J. O’Sullivan (0-1); N. O’Leary (0-1); J. Miskella (D. O’Sullivan); P. Kissane; A. O’Connor (N. Murphy); P. O’Neill (0-3); C. Sheehan (0-4); P. Kelly (0-3); F. Goold (0-1; F. Lynch 0-1); D. Goulding (0-4, 0-1f); D. O’Connor (0-3, 0-1f); P.Kerrigan.
Dublin: S. Cluxton; M. Fitzsimons; P. Brogan; P. McMahon; B. Cahill (0-1, D. Lally); G. Brennan; K. Nolan (0-1); D. Bastick; M. Dara McAuley; B. Cullen (D. Daly(P. Andrews)), K. McManamon (0-5). P. Flynn; B. Brogan (1-3; 0-1f, P. Burke); D. Connolly (0-2, D. Kelly); T. Quinn (1-2).
An exceptional and spirited second half performance gave Cork the reward of another national title, this time at the expense of Dublin. Despite struggling with the intensity and speed of Dublin in the first half and ending up eight points down mid way through the second half Cork showed considerable patience and mental strength to put in a storming finish marked by some excellent foot-passing and long distance points.In general the match was an entertaining one, and even though there were errors and even though Gaelic Football is often a dour sport to watch both teams put together some fine passages of play and created some cracking scores.
For Cork, the game as a whole was marked by some inconsistent performaces. The full-back line was largely taken apart in the first half, Connolly, Quinn and Brogan scoring freely from play. In truth our defence as a whole was getting dragged around, our half-back line struggling to close down the space in front our inside backs and our midfield struggling to win a lot of possession, particularly in the opening fifteen minutes. Even when Cork began to get a grip on midfield, bad wides, poor approach play (Paul Kerrigan particularly guilty) and an injury to Goold meant we still went in behind at half-time.
The beginning of the second half carried on a similar vein, Brogan finishing clinically after Shields got caught out under a high ball. Cork however responded extremely well. Three quick points whittled down Dublin’s lead to five before Brogan went off injured. Dublin’s play soon fell apart, the option of just getting the ball to Brogan now gone Dublin looked rather lost going forward, while some bizarre substitutions by Gilroy, who brought on fringe players and youngsters, further hurt Dublin’s performance. With Pearse O’Neill and Alan O’Connor in total control at midfield, our defence much tighter and Dublin tiring Cork clawed the game back to a draw with some top class point taking before a Ciaran Sheehan point won the game.
For Cork, despite a pretty poor performance in the first half, our full-back line tried extremely hard, although its clear either one of Cadogan or Canty will be needed back there come championship. Jamie O’Sullivan worked tirelessly and got some brilliant blocks in while Shields did as well as could be expected on Brogan considering the quality of ball he got, particularly in the first half. Our half-back line was pretty solid throughout, Noel O’Leary getting a great point during a crucial period in the second half and substitute Denis O’Sullivan playing a massive amount of ball and drive forward throughout. In midfield, Pearse O’Neill again showed his best position to be either 8 or 9, and even managed to contribute handsomely to the scoreboard scoring three points. Likewise Nicolas Murphy came on and fielded a couple of balls towards the end of the game.
Our forwards were most impressive. Patrick Kelly was typically cool and calm in possession at center-forward while Ciaran Sheehan put in a near MOTM performance and gave an exhibition in point-taking in the second half. Although O’Connor seemed rusty in the first half he upped his performance in the second and along with Goulding were willing runners all day. Even the talented but inconsistent Fiachra Lynch came on and put in a good shift, scoring the equalising point and giving some fine passes. All in all it was a very complete performance up front, the only black spot being Pauk Kerrigan, who was subbed before half-time hitting some horrible wides and using the ball sloppily.
Regarding Dublin, the match showed some worrying weaknesses in their game. Firstly, the loss of Brogan early in the second half resulted in Dublin’d forward play completely falling apart, with sloppy passes, errant free-taking and terrible shooting. Very simply, Dublin seemed to lack a game-plan beyond getting the ball to Borgan. Secondly, Gilroy’s substitutions in the second half, bringing on inexperienced fringe players, were at best dubious and at worst highly arrogant. Third, tactically Dublin seem to have a plan of blowing away teams at the start of both halves and then falling back as the half proceeds and when the team begins to tire, playing the half-bac line deeper to support the full-back line for example. This is fine…unless you come up against a team that can effectively point from distance and pick out quality passes, as Cork did in the second half. Moreoever, as Dublin get more passive as the game goes on they give more and more motentum to the opposition. Fourth, Dublin seemed less fit then Cork, something that will most certianly worry Gilroy considering the work Dublin put into their fitness. Finally, Dublin looks like a team short a few natural footballers and quality in depth – Bernard Brogan is brilliant, Alan Borgan and McManamon are quality forwards as well while the likes of McAuley Fitzsimmons and Cahill are some of the finer footballers players in the country. At the same time, any team that has extremely limited footballers like Bastick and O’Gara (or will do when he finishes his suspension) on it will struggle against more talented teams like Kerry, regardless of organisation and fitness.