Derek Ryan at Pairc Ui Rinn
Dublin’s hurlers have their first Allianz League points of 2017 on the board, after an excellent win away to Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday evening.
The Boys in Blue, coming into the game on the back of a heavy defeat to Tipperary in the league opener last weekend, were the better team on Leeside, and eased to an 8-point victory, despite playing the last 14 minutes a man down.
Dublin boss Ger Cunningham reacted to that Tipperary defeat by making five late changes to his side.
In came Conor Dooley, James Madden, Rian McBride, Eoghan Conroy and Caolan Conway to the starting team, with Gary Maguire, Paddy Smyth, Sean McGrath, Domhnall Fox and Chris Bennett all making way.
It was the hosts who raced out of the blocks and started the better side, leading by 0-3 to 0-0 after 10 minutes.
However, once Dublin got going, they were unstoppable.
Conroy struck Dublin's opening score on 11 minutes, and then the Boys in Blue hit 1-8 without reply in a 12 minute first half period to take firm control of the tie.
Dublin's goal came on 15 minutes- Ryan O'Dwyer flicking the ball to the net from a long Chris Crummey free.
Youngster Donal Burke also struck 0-3 in a 3 minute period to help Dublin to a 1-8 to 0-4 lead after 25 minutes.
Cunningham’s men could have put the game out of reach of the Rebels in the 26th minute, when O’Dwyer was fouled in the square by sub Damien Cahalane.
However, Burke’s subsequent penalty was well saved by Cork ‘keeper Anthony Nash.
The Rebels fought back as the half drew to a close, with 1-2 from Shane Kingston seeing Dublin’s lead reduced to 4 points- 1-11 to 1-7- at the break.
Dublin continued in the same vein in the second half, and struck their second goal of the game on the 40 minute mark.
The excellent Conroy finished well past Nash, after a superb run and cross from Burke.
Cork improved as the second half wore on, but were wasteful in front of goal, as they looked to claw back Dublin's 9 point lead midway through the second half.
The Rebels were given a lifeline on 56 minutes, when Chris Crummey was sent off for a harsh second yellow card.
Cork struck the next 3 points in-a-row, after that and it looked like a barnstorming finish was in store.
However Dublin held firm, marshalled by the superb Eoghan O’Donnell in defence, and actually finished the game the stronger side, despite their numerical disadvantage.
Burke hit his 8th point of the game (4f, 1x65) on the 61 minutes to effectively kill off the Cork challenge, with sub Cian O’Sullivan rounding the game off for Dublin with an excellent injury time point.
The win eases the pressure on Dublin boss Ger Cunningham, whose charges face Waterford next in the Allianz League at Croke Park on March 4th.