Allianz National Football League: Cork 0-12 Down 0-7
A dominant second-half performance from Cork eased them to a 0-12 to 0-7 victory over a now-relegated Down side in Páirc Uí Rinn this afternoon. The Rebels came out after the half-time break and notched four points in the first seven minutes of the period to put them firmly in the driving seat for the remainder of the contest. Such a devastating start to the second-half was in stark contrast to how they opened the game.
Cork held the ball for prolonged periods early-on, but could not get anything on the scoreboard to reflect their labour. It took eight minutes for the deadlock to be broken, with a free from Donal O’Hare putting Down in front. Three minutes later and Cork could have had a goal. Mark Collins making at surging run through after some brilliant lead-up play, but his shot was straight at the onrushing Down keeper Michael Cunningham. O’Hare extended the lead on thirteen minutes with another free. Cork responded promisingly again with another goal chance from Collins, this time the Castlehaven man firing his shot wide to the left.
Down were 0-3 to no score up on twenty minutes when Cunningham came up the field to accurately boot over another free. The lack of fire in the game bringing out the worst in the home side, who may have partaken in some Easter Egg consumption prior to the game such was their lethargy.
It took a converted 45 from Colm O’Neill to open up Cork’s account and this set off a run of scores. Luke Connolly pointing from the dead-ball to make it a one-point game at the half-hour mark. Collins levelled the game after he was played through again with two minutes of normal time left on the clock – he didn’t take the risk of accruing his third missed goal chance of the game as he fisted over from close range.
Just before the equaliser the Mournemen received a blow with Joe Murphy black-carded after a cynical pull on a leg prevented a promising Rebel attack. The tide turned further against the visitors with an O’Neill free from the right pushing the Rebels into a one-point lead. He missed an opportunity in injury time to push them further ahead going in at the break, Cork having to settle for a half-time lead of 0-4 to 0-3.
Luke Connolly was to the fore on the resumption, contributing handsomely to that influential four point burst. He bookended the purple patch – kicking a marvellous point less than a minute in and a huge one from the right on 42 minutes. Paul Kerrigan grabbing a brace of scores in between to give the Rebels a four point lead.
Down sub Mark Poland played in Conaill McGovern, who’s shot at goal blasted over the bar. O’Neill stretched the gap with a massive free from the right coming in off the post and over. Cork had Ryan Price in goal to thank on 53 minutes, saving brilliantly from an O’Hare shot that looked destined to nestle in the bottom corner.
Soon after it was Cunningham’s turn to show off his shot-stopping abilities again, saving with his feet to prevent sub Brian Hurley goaling. O’Neill had another free to make it 0-10 to 0-5 with sixty-two minutes on the clock.
Worryingly for Cork Ian Maguire went down injured late on and had to depart the stage.
Collins kicked two points towards the end to cap a great personal showing, the Castlehaven man’s consistent playmaking performances a vital part of the side.
Seán Hurson’s final whistle rung in a five point win for the Rebels, who have bounced back with two wins in a row after three successive losses earlier in the campaign.