All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
CORK 2-26 DUBLIN 0-24
Cork reached the All-Ireland SHC semi-finals for the first time since 2018 as they held off Dublin at Semple Stadium on Saturday night.
First-half goals from Tim O’Mahony and Shane Kingston gave the Rebels an eight-point half-time lead, 2-13 to 0-11, and that was the difference at the end too, but with five minutes remaining Dublin had pulled back to within four points thanks to a burst of scores from Riain McBride, sub Jake Malone, Donal Burke and Danny Sutcliffe.
Cork, who had led since O’Mahony’s goal in the 18th minute, didn’t panic though and their worries were eased as Patrick Horgan sent over a free – his 11th point of the game – with Niall O’Leary, sub Alan Connolly and Horgan on target to ensure they progress to the last four.
Having lost to Limerick in the Munster semi-final at the same venue four weeks previously, Cork have now won back-to-back knockout championship games for the first time since 2015 and will face Kilkenny next Sunday in Croke Park for a place in the decider.
Kieran Kingston and his team can be satisfied with the job done, while knowing that there is still room for improvement.
Dublin led on four different occasions in the opening 12 minutes, with Donal Burke shouldering much of the scoring burden, while they threatened half-chances of goals before a tight Cork full-back line got on top – having only conceded a goal from a penalty against Clare last week, they have not allowed a green flag from open play since the Limerick game.
They had parity at 0-5 each when Horgan levelled in the 17th minute – shortly after a Jack O’Connor goal attempt from a tight angle had hit the post – and they hit the front when Robbie O’Flynn’s lay-off for marauding wing-back Tim O’Mahony allowed him to hare towards the Dublin goal before producing a rasping finish.
Burke replied with a 65 before the water-break but Cork got on top in the second quarter. Conor Cahalane was hardworking in the middle while Séamus Harnedy built on his man-of-the-match performance against Clare while Jack O’Connor used his pace to good effect, winning frees and scoring points.
They moved 1-12 to 0-9 in front when Horgan got his fourth point and though Burke replied to that and another from the Cork captain, the Rebels surged eight clear as Kingston reacted to pull a loose ball to the net after O’Flynn had made a surging run and tried to find Horgan.
It left Cork with a nice cushion at the break and, though Conor Burke and Cian Boland brought Dublin back to six early in the second half, Cork had four of the next five points, Harnedy and O’Mahony with the pick of them, to open up a nine-point advantage and suggest that they would pull further clear.
That they didn’t was down to a doggedness on Dublin’s part with Donal Burke continuing to landed points while Cian O’Sullivan brought his tally to three as he made it 2-18 to 0-17 on 46.
Seven was still the different, 2-20 to 0-19, at the second-half water-break, with Conor Burke’s second cutting the lead further when action resumed. Though Cork replied with Horgan’s tenth and a point from sub Shane Barrett, Dublin’s four-point burst suggested that all was not decided just yet.
Cork might have wavered but they didn’t fall; they did enough to ensure that their season continues.
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-12 (0-8 frees, 0-1 65), Tim O’Mahony 1-1, Séamus Harnedy 0-4, Jack O’Connor 0-3, Shane Kingston 1-0, Robbie O’Flynn 0-2, Conor Cahalane, Shane Barrett, Niall O’Leary Alan Connolly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 0-13 (0-7 frees, 0-1 65), Cian O’Sullivan 0-3, Conor Burke, Danny Sutcliffe 0-2 each, Liam Rushe, Riain McBride, Cian Boland, Jake Malone 0-1 each.
CORK: Patrick Collins; Seán O’Donoghue, Robert Downey, Niall O’Leary; Ger Millerick, Mark Coleman, Tim O’Mahony; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Luke Meade; Robbie O’Flynn, Conor Cahalane, Séamus Harnedy; Jack O’Connor, Patrick Horgan, Shane Kingston.
Subs: Shane Barrett for Kingston (48), Sean O’Leary Hayes for O’Donoghue (48), Alan Connolly for O’Flynn (60), Billy Hennessy for Meade (63), Colm Spillane for O’Leary (70).
DUBLIN: Alan Nolan; Andrew Dunphy, Paddy Smyth, Cian O’Callaghan; Daire Gray, Liam Rushe, James Madden; Riain McBride, Conor Burke; Donal Burke, Chris Crummey, Danny Sutcliffe; Cian O’Sullivan, Rory Hayes, Cian Boland.
Subs: Jake Malone for O’Callaghan (49), Davy Keogh for O’Sullivan (52), Oisín O’Rorke for Boland (63), Paul Crummey for Hayes (69).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).