Brave Dublin Bow Out As Cork Advance To All Munster Final

DannySutcliffeDublinHurling2012_largeCork overcame Dublin yesterday in a highly entertaining fast-paced furious game to advance to the All-Ireland Hurling Final on the first weekend in September. At the beginning of the year nobody including myself gave this Cork side much chance of achieving this but Jimmy Barry Murphy and his team have worked wonders in progressing to the showpiece finale.

Yesterday was a toss of a coin really , in which I had predicted heads and tails came up. Credit to Cork they thoroughly deserved their victory and hurled with intensity and aggression right from minute one.

Dublin may have grievances and ‘ifs and buts’ this morning but the fact of the matter is they went into battle with Cork and came out second best. Ok the sending off may have been harsh (1st booking was the harsh one) but it was then up to the player after the first booking to mind himself and the second yellow nobody could argue with. It seems referees are nowadays becoming too much of the focal point of a game and its direction. Where I agree the standard and consistency should improve in refereeing I also acknowledge the hard job they have in the ever-increasing speed of hurling. Again I don’t want to take away from what was possible the best game of the year for sheer quality and fitness. From the throw-in the quality of point-taking, striking and fielding was first class with both teams setting up to go man for man fifteen men on fifteen men. Points were exchanged in the first half like blows in a heavyweight boxing match with the sides level on numerous occasions until David Treacy hit the back of the Cork net with his boot kicking the ball to the net, a finish Bernard Brogan would have been proud of. This put Dublin a point ahead with half time fast approaching but what happened next was pivotal and the measure of this resilient Cork side, instead of the Dubs pushing on, Cork came straight back and equalised with a fine strike on the sideline from captain Pa Cronin before pushing ahead before the half time whistle to go in 0-15 to 1-11 ahead. Deep breaths were needed all over the Jones Road venue.

The Second half brought more of the same non-stop intensity ,  quick paced hurling with no man getting a second to think when in possession of the sliotar. Dublin again showed their class with some fine points from Danny Sutcliffe and sub Shane Durkin edging them ahead but Cork again came back with keeper Anthony Nash pointing a long-range free. The goalkeeper’s bigger role in the outcome still yet to come, however.  Dublin were now on top and a fantastic goal opportunity presented itself to Ryan O’Dwyer ,the soon to be villain, he beared down on goal and shot high but Nash was equal to the effort preventing the goal that would have given Cork a mountain to climb in this now tense encounter. Then the big few minutes came, Paul Ryan missed a straight forward free before Luke O’Farrell went up the other end and reduced the gap to one point before in the next passage of play O’Dwyer charged clumsily into Lorcan McLoughlin and received his marching orders. You could sense the panic in the stadium now among the Dublin supporters and Cork smelt blood and went on to take control of the game. The 14 men held on defiantly , working tirelessly but were dealt the killer blow with six minutes left when talisman Pat Horgan raced in on goalkeeper Maguire to skilfully tap the sliotar away from him into an empty net to give the rebels a 1-22 to 1-17 lead with an extra man. The Dubs fought to the end in a thrilling match that both sets of players deserve immense credit but it was the men from the banks of the Lee that prevailed on the day to set up an all Munster final with either Clare or Limerick. On a day of so many stars it’s hard to pick out the standout players with Cork giving a powerful team display. Lorcan McLaughlin deservedly received man-of-the-match for his performance in midfield and both goalkeeper Anthony Nash and full-forward Pat Horgan came to the fore at critical moments in the game. Cork have progressed no end with every game and few would now bet against them now bringing Liam McCarthy back to Leeside. Jimmy Barry and Co deserve massive credit no matter what happens and they will no focus on the showpiece event in September. Sweet revenge for the football result and Cork supporters will now be confident of going all the way. What a difference a few months can make.

As for Anthony Daly and the Dubs they will be utterly disappointed but can hold their heads high after a wonderful campaign where they have won a Leinster title and gone ever so close yesterday. They have improved with great strides and the challenge will be to use the disappointment of yesterday’s defeat and go one better next year. IN my opinion Daly is the man for this job and I look forward to seeing them again next year.

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