CORK SECURED A place in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-finals for the 10th successive season with victory over Sligo in their Round 4A qualifier in Tullamore.
Brian Cuthbert’s side will face Mayo in the next round on Sunday at Croke Park after bouncing back from the major disappointment of their performance in the Munster final against Kerry earlier this month.
The chance to gain revenge over Mayo, who beat Cork in the 2011 quarter-finals, now awaits for the Rebels.
Cork were impressive and imposing in the opening half in Tullamore, showing a substantially more defensive approach to that employed in the Munster final.
Cuthbert deployed both Colm O’Driscoll and Mark Collins in defensive roles, with the former sweeping effectively in front of the full-back line and with Collins also dropping into similar spaces.
The result was frustration for Sligo’s forwards, who managed only two points through Mark Breheny and Adrian Marren (from a free) in the first half. Long-range efforts from Pat Flanagan’s men were generally well wide of the mark.
The Rebels’ new-found solidity at the back was matched by sharp point-scoring before the break, with Colm O’Neill firing over four and Paul Kerrigan’s three contributing handsomely to a 0-10 to 0-02 advantage on the half-time whistle.
Three Cork points followed swiftly after the break through O’Neill (2) and Aidan Walsh, before Sligo scored four consecutive points for the first time in the encounter, Charlie Harrison and Marren (3f) getting on the score sheet.
Kerrigan stemmed the tide with a classy point for Cork on the 48-minute mark, his influence on the game continuing to stand out in the half-forward line. A fine free from the boot of Breheny was Sligo’s response, before O’Neill hammered over for the Rebels.
From nowhere, Stephen Coen took advantage of some indecision in Cork’s defence to punch the ball into the net for the game’s first goal after 51 minutes. Suddenly, the momentum had shifted and Sligo found themselves only five points adrift.
Coen followed up with a point soon after to increase the pressure on Cuthbert, who responded by sending on Daniel Goulding. The Éire Óg man had an instant impact, cleverly teeing up Kerrigan to point, and the brief swing in Sligo’s favour was quelled.
Further scores from the likes of the in-form O’Neill, Walsh and substitute Damien Cahalane saw Cork stride to victory in the closing stages, although the hard-working Marren finally pointed from open play to reward his display for Sligo.
Cuthbert will be content to have seen his side show composure in riding Sligo’s ultimately short-lived second-half purple patch and will now look forward to the challenge of Mayo.
Cork: Colm O’Neill 0-10 (0-3f, 0-1 ’45), Paul Kerrigan 0-5, Aidan Walsh 0-02 (0-1f) Brian Hurley, Donal Og Hodnett, Ian Maguire, Damien Cahalane 0-1 each.
Sligo: Adrian Marren 0-6 (0-5f), Stephen Coen 1-1, Mark Breheny 0-3 (0-2f), Charlie Harrison 0-1.
1. Ken O’Halloran (Bishopstown)
2. James Loughrey (Mallow)
3. Eoin Cadogan (Douglas)
4. Noel Galvin (Ballincollig)
7. Brian O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCárthaigh)
6. Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty)
5. Michael Shields (St. Finbarr’s – Captain)
8. Ian Maguire (St. Finbarr’s)
9. Aidan Walsh (Kanturk)
11. Mark Collins (Castlehaven)
10. Paul Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers)
12. Colm O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCárthaigh)
13. Colm O’Neill (Ballyclough)
14. Brian Hurley (Castlehaven)
15. Donal Óg Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa)
Fintan Goold (Macroom) for Maguire (45)
Damien Cahalane (Castlehaven) for Clancy (51)
Daniel Goulding (Eire Og) for Hodnett (57)
John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) for Colm O’Driscoll (61)
Tom Clancy (Fermoy) for Brian O’Driscoll (66)
1. Aidan Devaney (Calry/St Josephs)
7. Keelan Cawley (Coolera-Strandhill)
2. Ross Donovan (Eastern Harps)
4. Neil Ewing (Drumcliffe Rosses Point)
5. Charlie Harrison (St John’s)
6. Brendan Egan (St Vincent’s – Dublin)
10. Brian Curran (Tubbercurry)
8. Adrian McIntyre (Tourlestrane)
9. Kevin McDonnell (Castleconnor)
12. Pat Hughes (Geevagh)
13. Mark Breheny (St Mary’s)
19. James Kilcullen (Ballaghaderreen – Mayo)
23. Stephen Coen (St Mary’s)
14. Adrian Marren (Curry)
15. David Kelly (Tubbercurry)
James Hynes (St Farnan’s) for Kelly (43)
Shane McManus (Geevagh) for Kilcullen (64)
Eoin McHugh (St. James) for Coen (69)
Conor Griffin (Calry/St Josephs) for Curran (69)
Referee: David Gough (Meath)