Cork 1-10 Leitrim 0-11
Cork had to work far harder than they probably expected in this senior football match to get the points over a very determined Leitrim side who if they had they shooting boots on would have pulled of a shock result.
In the first half alone Leitrim had eight wides by our count from all sorts of angles and distances. Cork was living dangerously, but the sheer depth of their panel allowed them time to weather the storm and introduce a couple of subs, in particular Sean O’Neill, who helped them to pull away. He won possession constantly after his introduction and was pivotal in setting up Hugh Curran for three winning scores in the final 10 minutes.
Cork started the contest very well and had the first three points of the game from Stafford, Scally when he stormed forward and David O’Callaghan. They should have had more as they created a number of chances but were stopped or fumbled in the throes of attack.
Leitrim slowly started to come into the game, and they used the shooting from Nicky Joyce to do it. After Dan Doona and Keith Quinn had scores for the 2012 champions, the former Galway star kicked three in a row. The side was also guilty of wayward shooting at this time, something manager James Mitchell will surely have them working on at training.
One of the Joyce scores was from an impossible angle, and showed the reason Alan Mulholland was the latest Tribe manager to ask him to join the county panel.
Cork failed to score in the last 10 minutes of the half as their inlet passes started to go astray and get picked off by a defender’s hands. Mike Creegan was very effective at this juncture. The final score of the half was from Brian Connor and it put Leitrim into the slimmest of leads, 0-6 to 0-5.
Quinn extended the lead to open the final half within 10 seconds of the throw in as he took a pass from Connor, set off on a run and chipped over. It was negated after four minutes when the ball broke on the Leitrim 40.
Shane McCarthy picked it up, storming forward. When he reached the 14 he blasted to the roof of the net for the best goal thus far this year.
Both sides followed with points before Joyce had his fourth, but he was also guilty of two bad misses from frees, the second in a very scorable position.
Cork took the let off and started to introduce subs. The liveliest was the aforementioned O’Neill, who started to get on a lot of ball in the middle.
Dave O’Callaghan had a point when Jason Kelly set him up with a gem of a pass. Then Curran took over with three well executed scores from play to move the winners into a 1-10 to 0-9 advantage.
Leitrim did try for another comeback with both Freeman and Quinn pointing. Freeman’s came after a Connor shot was stopped and he blasted high. It was their last go round, though, as Cork held on.
It is an even keel now and early results before Sunday will count for naught as all sides fill out their panels. Leitrim will be there at the end.
Pa Ryan made a couple of good stops, and his high kick outs give Brian Connor a great shot at possession. Ciaran Hughes did well with his corner man Mike Creegan excellent throughout with his battling qualities. Cian Maher did nothing wrong and his score was important. For a dominant hurler he gives 110 percent on the football field.
Brian Connor and Eoghan Carew had a tough battle against Stafford and Gallagher, but both came out in a positive light. Carew continues his resurgence with his second good game in a row. Connor is a rock who if he gets going can carry a game with his runs and ball winning ability.
Keith Quinn is having a great year. If he calls for a ball, teammates need to stay down as he gets brilliant elevation and will come down with it. Too many times he has run into another green jersey. Ciaran Brennan was used as a defender on J. Kelly and broke even over the hour. Doona and Joyce will have better days ahead.
The Rebels won in Ireland with a dominant center line. It was more a case of a sub of all the parts in New York. Donnagh O’Sullivan came into the game as it wore on; Alan Raftery did the same coming back from an injury. Denis O’Sullivan has all the abilities to be used in a central position and is not utilized enough on the peripheral.
Brian Gallagher started strong with his running and passing but faded, although the introduction of the very effective O’Neill took midfield back for the side. Hugh Curran, Dave O’Callaghan and Shane McCarthy were most influential in the forward line. McCarthy was a long way from goal most of the time. They were made to work hard by the dogged Leitrim defense constantly.
Cork: 1 Gary Lowney, 2 Donnagh O’Sullivan, 3 Alan Raftery, 4 Cormac Ryan, 5 Denis O’Sullivan, 6 Paul O’Connor, 7 Keith Scally (0-1), 8 Brain Gallagher, 9 Rory Stafford (0-1), 10 Jason Kelly (0-2), 11 Hugh Curran (0-3), 12 Dave O’Callaghan (0-3), 13 Mickey Lenehan, 13 Shane McCarthy (1-0), 15 Ger McCarthy. Subs: Sean McNamee, Sean O’Neill.
Leitrim: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Mike Creegan, 3 Ciaran Hughes, 4 Peter Fahey, 5 Ronan O’Flaherty, 6 Nathan Breen, 7 Cian Maher (0-1), 8 Brian Connor (0-1), 9 Eoghan Carew, 10 Lonan Maguire, 11 Keith Quinn (0-3), 12 Kieran Brennan, 13 Darren Freeman (0-1), 14 Dan Doona (0-1), 15 Nicky Joyce (0-4). Subs: Dave Donican.
Man of the Match: Dave O’Callaghan (Cork).
Referee: Martin O’Connor.