Fintan O’Toole (The42.ie)
Pictures Courtesy of George Hatchell
A FREEZING FEBRUARY afternoon in Páirc Uí Chaoimh culminated with Cork coping with the obstacle of having to play the closing stages with 13 men and collecting the brace of valuable league points on offer at the expense of Down.
Sean White’s 55th minute dismissal for a second yellow card removed a key player from the Cork side and then with their full set of subs employed, Kevin Crowley had to withdraw through injury in the 70th minute.
At that juncture Cork were in front by five points and they protected that position to maintain their promotion charge, aided by Down’s wayward shooting late on as they chalked up five injury-time wides.
Cork were good value for their latest success, 11 different players chipping in on the scoresheet and captain Ian Maguire particularly influential as the second half wore on. It was 0-8 to 0-2 in their favour at the interval and while Down began brightly after the second half, Cork got their running game going to reel off a succession of points that pushed them clear.
Cory Quinn got in to boot home a 66th goal that raised Down’s hopes as they cut the gap to four yet they failed to add to their scoring tally after that to come close to staging an striking revival. Luke Connolly swung over an exquisite point from a 68th minute free on the right wing for Cork and that transpired to be the last score of the game.
The opening period followed a set pattern of play, largely unfolding in the Down half of the field as Cork harnessed the elements to control possession. Cork got plenty of joy on Down’s kickout and when the Mourne men did manage to raid forward, Cork’s defence tackled smartly with Kevin Crowley putting in a couple of key turnovers. Down were restricted to just two scores, Donal O’Hare and Owen McCabe at either end of the first half.
Paddy Tally’s side were highly organised and energetic in closing down the space available to the Cork forward line. Six different players contributed to Cork’s tally, half of which came from frees that they managed to draw from hard runs. Thomas Clancy and Brian Hartnett popped up with impressive scores from distance. They created one clear goal chance after a surging break from Sean Powter carved open the Down rearguard in the 14th minute but Ciaran Sheehan fired in an effort from a tight angle that flew across goal past the post.
Down got scoring joy early in the second half through Darren O’Hagan and Paul Devlin to give them some impetus as they cut the deficit they faced, 0-9 to 0-4. But Cork strung together some of their best passages of play then with Liam O’Donovan, Damien Gore, Cathal O’Mahony, Tadhg Corkery and Maguire all contributing impressive points. They came close to hitting the net in the 51st minute with a sweeping team move but Colm O’Callaghan’s blasted effort was smothered by goalkeeper Rory Burns.
0-14 to 0-5 clear entering the final quarter essentially settled the issue but they needed to stay focused after the sending-off of White and the concession of that Quinn goal. Down came pouring forward in those closing moments yet their shots were rushed and sailed wide of Micheál Martin’s goal. Cork’s unbeaten run continues, next up for them is a trip to Thurles on 22 February while Down host Longford on the same night
Scorers for Cork: Damien Gore, Cathail O’Mahony 0-3 (0-2f) each, Ian Maguire 0-2, Thomas Clancy, Tadhg Corkery, Liam O’Donovan, Brian Hartnett, John O’Rourke, Ruairí Deane, Ciaran Sheehan (0-1f), Luke Connolly (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Down: Cory Quinn 1-1, Donal O’Hare (0-1f), Owen McCabe, Darren O’Hagan 0-2 each, Paul Devlin 0-1.
1. Micheál Martin (Nemo Rangers)
6. Liam O’Donovan (Clonakilty)
3. Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty)
4. Kevin Crowley (Millstreet)
5. Tadhg Corkery (Cill na Martra)
2. Seán Powter (Douglas)
7. Mattie Taylor (Mallow)
8. Ian Maguire (St Finbarr’s – captain)
9. Brian Hartnett (Douglas)
12. Ruairí Deane (Bantry Blues)
11. Seán White (Clonakilty)
10. John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers)
13. Damien Gore (Kilmacabea)
14. Ciarán Sheehan (Éire Óg)
15. Cathail O’Mahony (Mitchelstown)
23. Colm O’Callaghan (Éire Óg) for Sheehan (50)
26. Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers) for Deane (52)
25. Paul Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers) for Gore (54)
22. Killian O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) for O’Rourke (58)
20. Cian Kiely (Ballincollig) for Powter (62)
1. Rory Burns (Castlewellan)
2. Darren O’Hagan (Clonduff)
18. Patrick Murdock (St Peter’s Warrenpoint)
4. Ryan McAleenan (St Peter’s Warrenpoint)
5. Gerard Collins (Downpatrick)
6. Kevin McKernan (Burren)
7. Shane Annett (Mayobridge)
8. Johnny Flynn (Loughinisland)
9. Conor Poland (Longstone)
10. Barry O’Hagan (Clonduff)
11. Paul Devlin (Kilcoo)
12. Daniel Guinness (Carryduff)
13. Owen McCabe (Carryduff)
14. Donal O’Hare (Burren)
26. Jerome Johnston (Kilcoo)
23. Liam Kerr (Burren) for Annett (half-time)
15. Cory Quinn (Mayobridge) for McKernan (half-time)
21. Sean Dornan (Castlewellan) for Devlin (48)
17. James Guinness (Carryduff) for Collins (50)
22. Liam Middleton (Liatroim) for Poland (66)
Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)