The scoreline may have read 5-18 to 1-17 but don’t let that fool you.
Dublin were well and truly in a game last night in Croke Park. Cork started the stronger of the two sides kicking four points without reply int he opening minutes.
A Jack McCaffrey goal seemed to spark a Dublin revival, however, Cork withstood the challenge only to concede a second goal right on half-time in what must surely have been a deflating moment considering the mammoth effort they put in the opening half.
Cork rallied in the second half, however, through Luke Connolly’s penalty and with 15 minutes remaining just a goal separated the sides. Dublin showed why they are going for five-in-a-row in the final minutes with three goals, back-to-back, to put the game to bed and get their Super 8s campaign off to a perfect start.
Speaking after the 13-point win, Jim Gavin paid homage to his side for restricting Cork to 1-17. He also spoke very highly of a Cork side who will no doubt take huge confidence from last nights game.
“We did well to limit Cork to 1-17. They’re a very potent side. They’d scored, coming into this game, 10-48 I think and that’s a fair old tally. They’d nine or 10 different scorers today as well. Started off the game with six points on the spin. In the middle of that, we might have got a penalty claim but that’s the rub of the green and yeah they looked really strong. We probably just took our opportunities a bit better than they did and that was probably the difference in the end.
“That’s just the quality of the Cork side. You saw the quality of the scores they got. Very impressive movement leading into those scores and I suppose, no surprise they were going over the bar. We’d know them very well from our U21 days and seen some familiar faces on the pitch. No surprise, we’ve watched them pretty close and as I said, 10-48 after three games that’s pretty impressive. Both teams really went at it and I think they got some good opportunities and we made some good saves. We’ve obviously got a better return down the far end and we’re happy for that.”
“Yeah, we just need to look at their recent championship games. I think it’s a true reflection of them. Obviously playing with a lot of confidence now. Athletically, they are very strong and they do probably play a game similar to ourselves.
A skill based game, we were very impressed looking at the tapes of them and it’s no surprise they scored 1-17 and as I said, we did well to hold them to that.”
Cork asked questions of Dublin, not just in the opening minutes but in the second half also.
Gavin praised his team’s resilience in the face of the Cork onslaught citing their preparation in the build-up to the game as a privilege to work alongside.
“I think this Dublin team have been very resilient over the years. They brought it back to three points there in the second half and again, I thought our boys responded really well to that challenge and you know, we went through our phases and got a couple of scores on the board.
“And just from myself and the management team, it’s just a privilege to work with them and to see how I suppose the respect that they paid Cork in the lead up to this game and how diligent they were with their preparation. There was no sense of disrespect it was just all hands to deck.
“They’re ready now to shift their focus to the challenge in seven days time.”
Jonny Cooper returned to action for his first Championship appearance of the season. Gavin described the six-time All-Ireland winner as “one tough man” whose mindset led him back onto the pitch last night.
“Yeah, Johnny’s been very diligent in his recovery so it’s just been about getting the timing right and he’s been training really well in recent weeks and he played well when he came on too.
“If it was he didn’t show it he out his head down and worked hard at his recovery, the medical team gave him great support but it’s all down to the player and his mindset. He’s one tough man and very mentally strong so good to see him back.”
Roscommon lie in wait next weekend and Dublin could potentially book their spot in the semi-final with one round to go which would suit them given that they must travel to Omagh and take on Tyrone in the last game.
However, Gavin is not looking past Roscommon, a side he knows will be giving it their all next week having lost to the Red Hands in their opening game yesterday.
“I think it’s all on the line for both teams. Both teams will be seeking victory.
“We played them in Dr Hyde Park a number of months ago in a really, really good game. We came away very impressed with them. They’re a very athletic team now and again, very much a skill-based team.
“It all makes for another exciting weekend for us next Saturday.”