By Mark Woods (The Echo)
Cork 5-19 Louth 0-16
CORK duly clinched the Division 3 title after a comprehensive win at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday.
It was Cork’s sixth win from as many outings and they make an immediate return to the second tier next season.
There was much to admire in the home side’s performance like scoring 5-14 from play and the strong competition for places, both in the starting 15 and in the match-day panels, was emphasised yet again.
Among those to put their hands up for further inclusion was midfielder Paul Walsh, who was a bundle of energy for the 55 minutes he was on duty and decorated his display with a couple of fine points from play, too.
Killian O’Hanlon, who’d normally be skipper Ian Maguire’s partner at midfield, also showed up well at centre-forward, chipping in with 0-4, three from play, before making way just before the hour.
And to show it’s not all about the emerging youngsters, Paul Kerrigan, who started, and Mark Collins, who replaced him, combined for 3-6.
The Nemo Rangers forward was heavily involved in the creation of Cork’s early goals, apart from scoring twice, himself, while the Castlehaven forward ended up top scorer with 1-5.
On the debit side, Cork conceded 16 points to a team losing for the sixth time this term and while the majority came from the impressive free-taking of Sam Mulroy, it’s too big a tally against lowly opposition.
Cork led by 3-9 to 0-8 at half-time after playing with the wind in the first half.
Colm O’Callaghan claimed the first goal in the eighth minute following a Kerrigan pass, the second score in a run of nine, 3-6, without reply.
Kerrigan supplied the telling pass again for captain Ian Maguire to palm the ball over the head of stranded keeper Craig Lynch for a 2-4 to 0-2 lead by the 20th minute.
Fittingly, Kerrigan bagged the third goal a couple of minutes later after Cian Kiely set him-up.
Louth found themselves 3-7 to 0-3 adrift, but Tommy Durnin and Sam Mulroy helped them kick five of the next seven points.
Any slim prospect of a Louth revival in the second-half died within four minutes as Ruairi Deane placed Kerrigan for his second and Cork’s fourth goal for a 4-11 to 0-8 lead after 39 minutes.
Three minutes later Louth were reduced to 14 men after wing-back Fergal Donohue picked up a second yellow card.
Collins piled on the agony with the fifth goal just before the second water break.
Louth did manage to land three points in-a-row on the resumption but then had to plough on with 13 players after Patrick Reilly collected a second yellow card for a high challenge on Mattie Taylor.
And the visitors’ day to an empty stadium was further ruined, when Emmet Carolan was dismissed on a straight red card for kicking out at O’Donovan.
Cork had acres of space to create further chances in injury time as O’Donovan added his second point from wing-back to complete the scoring after a Collins free and one from another substitute Eoghan McSweeney also kept the scoreboard ticking along.
Scorers for Cork: M Collins 1-5 (0-4 f), P Kerrigan 2-1 (0-1 f), C O’Callaghan 1-1, I Maguire 1-0, K O’Hanlon 0-4 (0-1 f), P Walsh, K O’Donovan, D Gore 0-2 each, R Deane, E McSweeney 0-1 each.
Louth: S Mulroy 0-11 f, T Durnin 0-3, A Williams, C Whelan 0-1 each.
CORK: MA Martin (Nemo Rangers); K Flahive (Douglas), M Shanley (Clonakilty), P Ring (Aghabullogue); K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), M Taylor (Mallow), C Kiely (Ballincollig); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s, c), P Walsh (Kanturk); R Deane (Bantry Blues, K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig), K O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs); D Gore (Kilmacabea), C O’Callaghan (Eire Og), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers).
Subs: N Walsh (Douglas) for Ring 42, M Collins (Castlehaven) for Kerrigan 46, E McSweeney (Knocknagree) for O’Driscoll 51, N Hartnett (Douglas) for P Walsh 55, S Meehan (Kiskeam) for O’Hanlon 59.
LOUTH: C Lynch; D Corcoran, B Duffy, K Carr; F Donohue, E Carolan, A Williams; T Durnin, L Jackson; C Early, R Curran, C McKeever; P Reilly, S Mulroy, R Burns.
Subs: C Keenan for Curran half-time, J Cluttercuck for Carr 44, C Whelan for Burns 51, D Campbell for Early 54, G Garland for McKeever 62.
Referee: S Mulhare (Laois).