Fourteen man Cork only just held a late Offaly fightback in their championship hurling qualifier clash at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon. The rebels were well ahead for much of the contest but a late goal from Shane Dooley left the rebels hanging on in the dying seconds.
The home side got off to a flying start with a goal from Cian McCarthy after only three minutes of the match. Offaly got the next two scores to leave it 1-0 to 0-2 but Luke O’Farrell then found the back of the net as Cork continued their recent goal fest. Shane Dooley added further points for the visitors and after eighteen minutes the sides were level. What could have been the turning point of the match took place on 24 minutes when Patrick Cronin was shown a red card and Cork were reduced to fourteen men.
Conor Markham and Ben O’Connor then swapped points before Patrick Horgan hit a fine score to give the rebels back the advantage. Shane Dooley was the Faithful county’s star man on the day and he added another point on 31 minutes. Jerry O’Connor replied for Cork and Patrick Horgan hit a brace to leave the home side with the advantage at the interval.
Horgan and Paudie O’Sullivan increased the rebels lead just after the restart and it looked game over for Offaly. Again Dooley tried hard and kept Offaly in the match with a nice score. Horgan then went on a scoring spree and hit four for the home side,with Dooley the sole Offaly scorer during this period. Jerry O’Connor pointed for Cork and Daniel Kerins helped Dooley by hitting a brace for Offaly.Inside the final ten minutes Offaly started to find some belief and again Dooley led the charge. Tom Kenny scored a vital point for Cork and Dooley replied for the Faithful County.
Suddenly it was a four point game and Cork were in trouble. A long range free from Dooley eluded the Cork defence and found its way to the net. With a minute of injury time to play it was a one point game. However, that was as good as it got for Joe Dooley’s men and Cork held on to claim a one point victory. Offaly certainly showed that they are no back number and as ever they battled to the very end. Denis Walsh will realise that his side need to improve to progress any further in the series but for this afternoon it was a case of job done.