By Mike Fitzpatrick
Cork succumbed to this rampant Stamford display like a baby seal bowing to a polar bear Sunday at Gaelic Park. Liam Bermingham’s men, again missing the talents of star midfielder Pat Mahoney, are now firmly rooted to the bottom of Senior Football’s first division with little hope of avoiding relegation. With two ties left, one versus a Leitrim side hungry for points to make the playoffs, and another against Cavan, who themselves are not quite out of contention. Cork are in serious trouble indeed.
Stamford, on the other hand, have now got the playoffs well within their sights. Although senior football possesses a number of quality sides all eager to go the distance this year, Stamford must surely fancy their chances somewhat, having now won three of five games. Their next game, against Donegal, will probably decide their fate. Donegal have already qualified for playoff contention, though it’s difficult to predict just how Lawrence McGrath’s side will treat their remaining games. Whether they’ll take their foot off the gas in order to try out new players, or if they’ll just go into their final games with all guns blazing, remains to be seen.
Cork were never really in contention during this tie. Stamford were all over them in the first half, with Keith Hennessy, Mike Martin, and the two Richie’s, Power and Purcell running riot, they totted up a nine point lead going into halftime. Cork’s solitary point coming from Dale Hynan. The second half was a mere formality, with the only question pertaining to exactly how many points the Connecticut side would register. During a darkening evening, Spike Martin and Co. relaxed a little, as it would clearly have taken 15 superhuman efforts to stage a comeback from Stamford’s 14-point lead.
Cork goalkeeper Don Ryan, in fairness, played very well, and produced a top-notch save in the dying moments to prevent a solitary goal from Stamford’s attack. Barry John Ryan and Morgan Burns also stood out for Cork, though even they could do little to prevent Stamford’s attack from going on and on toward the Munster goal. Keith Hennessy had a great game for Stamford, and if he and his teammates, Power and Purcell can keep up this level against stronger sides in their final games, then I wouldn’t bet against Stamford making it through the playoffs.
Stamford: John Wallace, Martin McDermott, Pat Coyne, Niall Slattery, Mark Cunningford, Richie Purcell (0-2), Declan Curtin, Ted Steede, Richie Power (0-2), Eric McDonald (0-2), Keith Hennessy (0-6), Justin O’Halloran, Mike Martin (0-3), Dave McDonagh (0-1), Terry McCann (0-1).
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Cork: Donal Ryan, Paddy O’Sullivan, Morgan Burns, Brendan O’Connor (0-1), Barry John Ryan, Denis Mahoney, John Donovan, Denis Kiley, Dale Hynan (0-1), John Paul Kiley, James McSweeney, Kieran Kerr, Kieran Kronin (0-1), Sean O’ Flynn, Brendan Wylie. Subs: Shane Dunne, Kevin Kronin.