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Ex-Saffron James Loughrey stars as Cork see off Sligo

By John Campbell

Antrim's interest in the All-Ireland football and hurling titles ended some time ago but the county still nonetheless retains an interest in the destination of the Sam Maguire Cup.

And it was former St Brigid's clubman James Loughrey who provided it following his polished performance for Cork in their handsome 0-21 to 1-11 qualifier victory over Sligo at the weekend which has earned the Leesiders a quarter-final meeting with Mayo.

Loughrey, who served Antrim with distinction before moving south to link up with Cork, continued to more than justify the faith which manager Brian Cuthbert has shown in him. Indeed Loughrey played a big part in helping to stamp out Sligo's second half recovery bid after they had trailed by 0-10 to 0-2 at the interval.

And if the ex-Saffrons' star proved one of the mainstays of the Cork defence, then Colm O'Neill and Paul Kerrigan claimed the lion's share of honours up front.

O'Neill, whose input into the side over the past two years has been severely restricted because of cruciate ligament injuries, unleashed his creative and scoring powers to such an extent that he finished with a 10-point haul.

Kerrigan's pace and ability to switch the play also caused major problems for the Yeats County and his four points represented a telling contribution.

Even though his side enjoyed a comfortable victory margin, Cork boss Cuthbert needs no reminding that Mayo, Connacht champions for four years on the trot, will prove a much bigger test for his team.

And also facing into a huge examination of their talents will be a Galway side who inexplicably allowed Tipperary to claw back what initially appeared to be an unassailable lead when the sides met for the right to meet Kerry in the last eight.

Galway boss Alan Mulholland will surely be pleased that his side scored 4-17 with all their goals coming in a nine-minute spell straddling the interval but he will surely rue the fact that they conceded 4-12, the majority of these scores coming in the second-half.

Mulholland and his captain Paul Conroy afterwards admitted that lapses in concentration could have proved fatal as Tipperary staged a remarkable revival in an astonishing contest.

"We certainly cannot afford to do anything like that against Kerry," said Mulholland.

Tomas Flynn and Fiontan O Currain landed goals at the end of the first half that saw Galway take a 2-7 to 0-7 advantage at the interval but Tipp hit back strongly and a flurry of goals from Brian Fox, Conor Sweeney, Colin O'Riordan and Brian Mulvihill saw them remain on their opponents' shoulders until the full-time whistle.


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