Classy Cork roared to an emphatic 4-20 to 1-15 victory over Laois in a one-sided Round Four Qualifier in Thurles.
Castlehaven duo Brian Hurley (2-4) and Mark Collins (1-8) led the way as the southerners advanced to the last eight for the first time in five years, having been beaten at this stage in each of the last four years.
The Rebels progress into Group Two of the Super 8s, where they join Dublin, Roscommon and Tyrone. Their first outing in the All-Ireland quarter-finals is a trip to Croke Park to take on the reigning All-Ireland champions next Saturday night!
Ronan McCarthy’s men gradually found their rhythm and reeled off the last four points of the opening period – and six of the last seven - to lead by 0-12 to 0-7 at the interval.
With 6,114 in attendance, Hurley landed 2-4 before being called ashore and replaced by his brother Michael with a quarter of the game remaining.
The O’Moore County led by the odd point from seven after 14 minutes – three of their first four coming from Donie Kingston - but three unanswered points from Collins (2) and Kevin O’Driscoll propelled the Rebels into a 0-6 to 0-4 advantage, which was halved by an excellent Colm Murphy score.
Kingston’s free tied the scores up for the fourth and final time but Collins’ fifth of the evening edged the Leesiders back in front ten minutes from the break.
Laois goalkeeper Graham Brody reacts to conceding a goal. ©INPHO/Ken Sutton.
The powerful Brian Hurley (2), Ronan O’Toole and Ruairi Deane added further Cork points before the break, Kingston stroking over another free at the other end, the outstanding Collins registering his fifth point from a free in the second of four added minutes.
Thirteen seconds into the second half, the Rebel County soared eight clear, Hurley hammering a left-footed strike to the Laois net. Half-time substitute Paul Kerrigan picked out Collins, who found Hurley with a fist pass and the full forward finished confidently first-time.
Wing back Liam O’Donovan pushed the gap out to nine and it was a ten-point game when Hurley brought his tally to 1-4 on 41 minutes. Hurley was in the mood and he gathered a long delivery from full back James Loughrey, turning his man and blasting to the net to make it 2-14 to 0-7. Collins’ routine free made it treble scores with only seven minutes gone since the restart.
Kingston’s free and a Trevor Collins point got the Laois side of the scoreboard ticking over again but back came Cork with a brace of converted Collins frees before the brilliant No.15 netted in the 50th minute, closing his account for the evening. Even though Laois replied with a Mark Barry point and a Martin Scully goal, the Cork men still led by double scores at the three-quarters stage, 3-17 to 1-10.
Kington pulled back a free and – too little, too late – the O’Moore County kept plugging away, reducing the arrears to ten points with seven minutes left, the Rebels perhaps already turning their attention to the Dubs next weekend.
Five minutes from the end, Michael Hurley picked out fellow replacement Kerrigan for the fourth Cork major. Somewhat worryingly for the winners, Kingston was having a field day, however, and he replied with his tenth point of the game before rattling the crossbar.
Deep into injury time, substitute Stephen Sherlock arrowed over the 19th and 20th Cork points as they cantered over the winning line and into the Super 8s.
Cork - M White; K O'Donovan, J Loughrey, K Flahive; L O'Donovan (0-1), Thomas Clancy, M Taylor; I Maguire, K O’Hanlon; K O'Driscoll (0-1), S White, R Deane (0-2); L Connolly, B Hurley (2-4), M Collins (1-8, 0-4f). Subs: R O'Toole (0-1) for K O'Hanlon, P Kerrigan (1-1) for L Connolly, Tomas Clancy for Thomas Clancy (BC), A Browne for J Loughrey, M Hurley for B Hurley, S Cronin for I Maguire, S Sherlock (0-2, 1'45) for R Deane.
Laois - G Brody; S Attride, D Booth, G Dillon; T Collins (0-1), R Pigott, P O’Sullivan; J O’Loughlin, K Lillis; D O’Reilly, P Kingston, M Scully (1-0); D Kingston (0-10, 7f), C Murphy (0-1), E Lowry (0-1). Subs: C Begley for P O'Sullivan, E O'Carroll (0-1) for P Kingston, S Byrne for D O'Reilly, M Barry (0-1) for C Murphy, D Seale for D Booth, S O'Flynn for G Dillon.
Referee - F Kelly.Tweet