Dublin 4-21 Cork 2-17
An astoundingly bad Cork performance gave Dublin an easy win in Croke Park tonight in the National Hurling League. To say the Dubs ran away with the game in a canter would be understating it. Three first-half goals butchering the game as a contest and putting pressure on the new Cork management team headed by Kieran Kingston.
Eleven minutes gone and Cork lead by four points to two. A brace by the Midleton duo of Conor Lehane and late inclusion Luke Farrell nudging the Rebels ahead. This was as good as it got for the away side however as David Treacy converted a brace of frees from opposite sides of the pitch to level the contest.
Liam Rushe at centre-back hit a huge score to put Dublin in the lead. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as they quickly set about filleting a badly exposed Cork defence. Goal one came from Eamon Dillon, who collected a delivery, shrugged away the tackle of Stephen McDonnell and finished with conviction.
Minutes later and Dillon is involved in the net-shaking again. He handpassed to the onrushing David Treacy who sent it beyond poor Anthony Nash in the Cork goal.
The umpire manning the green flag at the Canal End goal was in danger of wrenching his back as he was put to work again soon afterward following a Seán McGrath strike to give Dublin their third goal of the game. Vision and ruthlessness evident in its creation by Dotsy O’Callaghan and Mark Schutte.
At this stage Kieran Kingston must have wanted the proverbial ground to open up and swallow him and his players. There was no need for that however as Dublin were swallowing his side without salt.
The home side hit an extraordinary 3-6 without reply in the opening period. Patrick Horgan broke the run with a point from a free, small mercies irrelevant to the score-line even at this early stage.
Three more points for the Dubs and another Horgan free made it Dublin 3-12 Cork 0-9 after referee Alan Kelly blew the short whistle.
Naturally you’d have expected a fiery second-half showing from the Rebels to at least salvage some pride. Yet they couldn’t add anything more substantial to the proceedings than two Horgan frees. Dublin on the other hand resumed the wrecking ball job on Cork morale. After two scores from Schutte and Dotsy, the former showed a great bit of skill by scooping up and handpassing the sliotar in one clean motion to Eamon Dillon – who goaled again.
Fifty minutes in and the scoreboard read 4-14 to 0-12. The leaders became too charitable for the final period of the game. This would surely displease Ger Cunningham as his side were much more emphatic winners than the ten point winning margin suggests.
Stephen Murphy – who was brought on at half-time – added some much needed heart to the Cork side. It wasn’t easy to be parachuted into a defence that was performing that poorly and he coped admirably.
Seamus Harnedy got the most archetypical consolation goal you’ll see – doubling in the sliotar after a Paudie O’Sullivan free was saved. As he jogged back to position he shook his head in embarrassment and frustration. The goal providing little sustenance to him. Nor did another Harnedy goal, angrily struck into the right-hand corner after a flick up from Lehane.
The goals added a modicum of respectability to the score, but if Cork perform anything related to the way they did tonight, the Tipperary and Kilkenny games could be massacres. A major rethink is needed in approach, and most importantly effort and desire to prepare for what looks to be an inevitable relegation play-off.