David O’Callaghan was outstanding for Cork as they used a second half dominating performance to completely overpower Leitrim and move into sole position of top slot in the senior football division.
With a total of 1-8 over the hour, O’Callaghan gave a torrid time to his markers as both a playmaker and scorer. He was ably assisted by strong performances from Alan Raftery and Sean O’Neill as the winners held Leitrim to just three points in the second half.
There was just the minimum between the sides at the break with Cork ahead. The sides were level on seven occasions as the lead bounced back and forth, with O’Callaghan finally getting the go ahead score with minutes left in the half. It was his sixth of the opening thirty minutes as he put on a clinic.
At the other end Keith Quinn was the main man as he fired four points from a wide range of angles. Indeed the level of difficulty for Quinn’s efforts was extreme for all.
While O’Callaghan was the scorer in chief, the midfield pairing of Raff and Kelly was doing a lot of work with Brian Gallagher also covering acres of ground.
The scores seemed to be coming easier for the winners, a fact that would remain throughout the second half.
In that second half, Leitrim were held to three points in total, with Cork akin to a surgeon calmly and expertly going about the business.
Three points in the opening six minutes put breathing room between the sides, two of which came from defensive mistakes. Eoin Carew did pull a point back from one of his trademark fifties, but then Cork went for the jugular.
It was a brilliant move from the back that went through six players including Raftery, Furlong and O’Neill, and resulted with a O’Callaghan point.
Jason Kelly followed with a bullet that was bravely pushed over by Aiden Power with goal written all over it. The Leitrim keeper was powerless, however, when O’Callaghan put the icing on top of his performance with a well taken goal with Shane McCarthy the assister.
After two further Leitrim points -- again Carew had a fifty -- Cork tacked on 1-2 for good measure for the victory.
Cork had terrific performances from Ian Jones, McCarten, and Morrissey before he retired injured. Paul O’Connor also had an effective second half after a tough first. After devastating losses due to injury of the two O’Sullivans, the Rebels are getting back on track at the defensive end. Raff and Kelly with Gallagher dominated the center, so much so that Brian Connor was taken off for Leitrim.
Kelly looks impressive, with Gallagher having probably as good a game as you could have without scoring if my stats are correct. O’Neill, Kelly and the tremendous O’Callaghan rounded out the brilliant performance.
Leitrim were missing a couple of players who will help. On this occasion Paddy Maguire, Darren Freeman, Doona and Quinn in the first half were their best performers.
Cork: 1 Gary Lowney, 2 Ian Jones, 3 Paul O’Connor, 4 Darren Walsh, 5 Aiden Morrissey, 6 Ciaran McCarten, 7 Michael Furlong, 8 Alan Raftery, 9 Colin Kelly (0-1), 10 Sean O’Neill (0-2), 11 Jason Kelly (0-4), 12 Brian Gallagher, 13 Dave O’Callaghan (1-8), 14 Shane McCarthy, 15 Mick Lenehan. Subs: Derek Courtney, Keith Scally, Caleon McLoughlin (1-0).
Leitrim: 1 Aiden Power, 2 Lonan Maguire, 3 Paddy Maguire, 4 Mike Creegan, 5 Ronan Gallagher, 6 Nathan Breen, 7 Cian Maher, 8 Damien Moran, 9 Brian Connor, 10 Darren Freeman (0-1), 11 Shane Moran, 12 Ciaran Brennan, 13 Dan Doona (0-3), 14 Keith Quinn (0-4), 15 Eoin Carew (0-2). Subs: Peter Fahey, Ciaran Hughes, Mal Gallagher.
Man of the Match: Dave O’Callaghan (Cork).
Referee: John Fitzpatrick.