The Cork footballers proved their excellent display in the Munster final was no fluke by comfortably beating Laois 4-20 to 1-15 in the All-Ireland qualifier in Semple Stadium this evening.
The reward is a trip to Croke Park against Dublin next Saturday, while the other Super 8 games will be a week later against Tyrone, also on Jones’ Road, and a home tie with Roscommon on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
They’ll be massive underdogs to get beyond that stage and make an All-Ireland semi-final, but Cork are already in bonus territory considering they were relegated to Division 3 after a worryingly poor league.
The Rebels hit a hurling score in a ground synonymous with the small ball game, led by Brian Hurley and Mark Collins’ brilliance in a two-man full-forward line.
The Castlehaven duo were deadly throughout, hitting three points from play each in the first half to drive Cork into a 0-12 to 0-7 lead, before blitzing Laois on the restart.
By the time the Leinster side hit their eighth point in the 44th minute, Cork had blasted 2-3 to put the game to bed. Ronan McCarthy and his selectors had the luxury of withdrawing Hurley, for his brother Michael who assisted Paul Kerrigan for the fourth goal, in the 52nd minute.
By that juncture, the number 14 had 2-4 from play and repaid Mark Collins with an assist for the third goal.
Cork were exceptional in every sector after a sluggish opening 10 minutes which saw Laois eke out a two-point lead. Ian Maguire lorded the midfield sector, Liam O’Donovan and Mattie Taylor bombed up from wing-back at every opportunity and Ruairí Deane was top-class, again, chipping in with 0-2 and multiple assists.
Paul Kerrigan was a fine impact sub, nailing 1-1, and the likes of James Loughrey, sub Ronan O’Toole, in for the injured Killian O’Hanlon, deep-lying centre-forward Seán White and keeper Mark White, were all terrific.
Cork have now scored a staggering 11 goals in three games. The Super 8s are next and that promises to be exciting!