Cork overcame Louth in a dogfight at Páirc Uí Chaoimh to advance to the last twelve of the All-Ireland series with a hard earned four point victory.
oals from Brian Hurley and Colm O’Callaghan inside the last ten minutes of the turgid affair was enough to hand John Cleary’s side their second ever championship victory over the Wee County.
Louth made four changes since the Kildare game but the shift in mindset was the main difference on the field as Mickey Harte’s side retreated, to a man behind their own 45 metre line. A scrappy opening ensued and Louth also conceded Chris Kelly’s kick out.
Besides from the lateral play, the early stages were blotted with missed frees. Mulroy uncharacteristically missed a free from close range before Steven Sherlock atoned for an earlier miss to open the scoring.
In the next passage of play Brian Hurley enjoyed more freedom than the entire Kerry game and the Cork captain duly obliged with two sublime scores, the second, a mark from way out on the left hand side.
Despite their failings in front of the posts, Louth were still in the game due to their defensive barrage. That helped their belief in the game plan as they stuck to their task and were rewarded with a counter attacking goal to level the game.
Cornerback Dan Corcoran broke out of the Louth defence and the ball ended up in Sam Mulroy’s hands. The Louth captain stalked his prey as he bore down on goals and made an excellent pass to Liam Jackson who palmed it into the net.
Cork responded through Sherlock once again, the Barrs man was becoming the difference with placed balls. He landed two long range frees near both sidelines in a breath-taking display of accuracy.
Brian Hurley was really in his groove since his earlier salvo and through a mass of white jersey’s Hurley curved and arced an excellent point after Mulroy added to his tally with his second score from a free.
However, possession remained key and Louth, who looked more comfortable doing so, nabbed the last point of the half to trail 0-7 to 1-3 at the interval. Corcoran found himself up the field to provide Louth’s planned ambush a little more oxygen ahead of the second half.
The second half began and ended tense with both sides trading frees with Mulroy and Sherlock duelled with efforts from their hands as opposed to off the perfectly manicured turf. The in-form Cork city man curled his first from play moments later 41 minutes into the contest.
Cork looked to pull away , Louth’s use of the ball was becoming more and more laboured and carefree. On top of that, replacement goalkeeper Chris Kelly on his championship debut pulled off a double save in denying John Clutterbuck and Ciaran Keenan of certain goals.
Louth did come away with something from those attacks and hung on into the game with a free from Mulroy to leave a point between the sides.
Another Sherlock free and a quarter of an hour remained and Cork then decided to stalk possession, the small home support began to cheer every pass with ‘Óle’. Cork substitute Damien Gore struck the post and Louth began to sense an upset.
Hurley quickly took away that notion with his first point of the second half and a rapid goal after Sean Powter powered down the centre of the Louth defence to eventually put the game to bed for the Leesiders.
Louth to their credit, had to gamble and with goalkeeper James Califf advancing to the centre for the Cork kick outs, Harte’s men scored three in a row.
Ironically, in a helter skelter finale, Cork midfielder Colm O’Callaghan and Louth substitute Conor Grimes found the net as the game opened up in additional time. Sherlock deservedly had the final say with a free.
Cork: S Sherlock 0-8 (6f 145′) B Hurley 1-4 (1m), C O’Callaghan 1-0.
Louth: S Mulroy 0-4 (4f) L Jackson 1-1, C Grimes 1-0, C Downey, T Jackson and D Corcoran 0-1 each.
CORK: C Kelly ; K O’Donovan, M Shanley, S Powter; J Cooper, R Maguire, M Taylor; C O’Callaghan, I Maguire; J O’Rourke, E McSweeney, D Dineen; S Sherlock, B Hurley, C O’Mahony. Subs: B Hayes for O’Mahony (ht), D Gore for O’Rourke (51), T Corkery for Powter (69), C Kiely for Dineen (70), C Walsh for McSweeney (74).
LOUTH: J Califf; D Corcoran, B Duffy, D McKenny; C McKeever, N Sharkey, L Jackson; C Early, J Clutterbuck; C Lennon, S Mulroy, R Burns; D McConnon, C Downey, D Nally. Subs: C Keenan for Burns (44), T Durnin for Early (45), L Grey for McKeever (62), C Grimes for Nally (65), T Jackson for Lennon (66).
REF: F Kelly (Longford)