Dublin shifts into high gear to overtake Cork

A familiar men-in-blue push in the third quarter – in which Dessie Farrell’s men scored six unanswered runs – propelled Dublin into a 13th consecutive All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

After feeling the absence of missing James McCarthy and Con O’Callaghan in a first half where Cork clung to Dublin’s coattails and were within three at the break (0-10 to 0-7) , a more clinical Dublin slipped into the distance within 20 minutes of half-time.

Three frees from Dean Rock saw their interval advantage doubled from three to six in the 44th minute, followed by another three-point flurry from Brian Fenton (0-2) and Rock (free) to complete a six in a row and leave nine between them.

Free-kicks conceded by defenders in red in this Dublin-held third quarter were indicative of a surge for champions Leinster on the restart. Cork’s energy levels were traveling in the opposite direction, with the toll of their first half efforts slowly taking hold.

John O’Rourke’s point in the 56th minute was their first score of the second half, only one of three they had in the second period, and their only score in the second half.

Unlike how easily they were sidelined at the change of ends, Cork would have been happier with a first-half effort that had them within three of their opponents at the break. Their number one goal at the short whistle would have been to still be alive in the contest – and they most certainly were. Indeed, it was probably a surprise to see how much they lived with their favorite opponents.

Dublin’s lead never went past four in the first 35 minutes and while there was an element of wastage in their shot, as evidenced by a wide count of six, Cork were also said to have been frustrated with the scores that they left behind. The underdogs ended the half with seven wide, while Steven Sherlock made two efforts at the post and failed.

Sherlock was part of a line of full Cork forwards who troubled Dublin’s backline every time they were fed. All but one white flag from their first seven halves came from Sherlock, Hurley and O’Mahony.

Cork’s inside trio ball supply has improved so much from recent games, and Cork’s kicking range has been so remarkable. Their quick and focused counter-attack was a far cry from the largely methodical building game of the Louth and Limerick games.

Their restarts were also vastly improved on their qualifying wins, with Cork retaining possession on 12 of their 15 kicks in the first half.

For Dublin, Dean Rock contributed three of their first-half 0-10 tally, his tally coming exclusively from the dead ball. Ciaran Kilkenny contributed with a pair, with the impressive Lee Gannon, Sean Bugler, Tom Lahiff, Cormac Costello and Paddy Small adding one each. And while there was that familiar spread on the Dublin scoresheet, the absence of Con O’Callaghan unquestionably diluted the creativity of their attacking plays.

Dublin launching full-back Eoghan O’Donnell made his Premier League debut in the second half, by which time the result was long settled.

Scorers for Dublin: D Rock (0-9, 0-9 free); C Kilkenny (0-3); B Fenton, L Gannon (0-2 each); S Clairon, T Lahiff, C Costello, P Small, A Byrne (0-1 each).

Scorers for Cork: C O’Mahony (0-3, 0-2 free), S Sherlock (0-3, 0-1 mark, 0-1 free); B Hurley (0-2); E McSweeney, J O’Rourke (0-1 each).

Dublin: E Comerford; L Gannon, E Murchan, M Fitzsimons; J Small, B Howard, J Cooper; B Fenton, T Lahiff; N Scully, S Clairon, C Kilkenny; C Costello, D Rock, P Petit.

Subtitles: L O’Dell for Clairon (52 min); C Murphy for Cooper (56); A Byrne for P Small (61); E O’Donnell for Murchan (67); D Byrne for J Small (69).

Cork: MA Martin; Ring P, Shanley M, O’Donovan K; J Cooper, R Maguire, M Taylor; I Maguire, C O’Callaghan; S Powter, E McSweeney, J O’Rourke; S Sherlock, B Hurley, C O’Mahony.

Subtitles: S Meehan for Ring, D Dineen for McSweeney (both 48); B Hayes for Sherlock (53); C Kiely for Cooper (56); B Murphy for O’Callaghan (70).

Arbitrator: S Hurson (Tyrone).

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