Burns' men Down and out but Rebels fail to click
Cork 0-12 Down 0-7
Cork sit in the no-man's land between the Division 1 semi-finals and a chance of still being relegated, after an uninspiring five-point win against Down.
The Northerners' relegation was confirmed with their sixth defeat in a row, while Cork were left waiting on the result from Dr Hyde Park. However, Mayo's win leaves them needing a result against close rivals Kerry to make their Division 1 status certain.
While happy with a third win out of four on home turf, Cork manager Peadar Healy admitted: "It was a hard game to watch.
"We needed the two points and we got the two points. It was a poor game - it never took off for both teams.
"What it was down to? I don't know. Maybe we were very conscious that we needed the two points and maybe that was in our head. We just didn't seem to express ourselves."
That first 20 minutes went without any round of applause from the Cork fans, as Down landed three unanswered frees with the help of the breeze - two from Donal O'Hare and one long-range strike from goalie Michael Cunningham.
Cunningham had saved one close range Mark Collins effort on goal, while the Castlehaven man dragged another wide. By the time he broke through a stiff Down defensive line in the 34th minute, he opted to fist the ball over. That levelling score was the first, and only, score from play in the half.
A second Colm O'Neill free gave Cork a 0-4 to 0-3 halftime lead, and they extended their scoring run to eight without reply with braces of excellent scores from play by Luke Connolly and Paul Kerrigan.
By then Down's fate was sealed, although Conaill McGovern scored their first point from play in the 44th minute. Ryan Price, one of four Cork goalkeepers to see action in this League campaign, saved well from O'Hare and with that chance went Down's hopes of getting within a score.
"I thought a lot of our structures are starting to take shape," said Eamonn Burns afterwards. "Our defensive structure was good today and I thought our transition through the middle sector was good. We need to do a bit of work on our inside forwards and our shot selection, but we've time to do that now."
SCORERS - Cork: C O'Neill 0-4 (3fs, 1 45); L Connolly (1f), M Collins 0-3 each; P Kerrigan 0-2. Down: D O'Hare 0-3 (fs); M Cunningham (f), D O'Hanlon (f), C McGovern, M Poland 0-1 each.
CORK - R Price 8; K Crowley 8, J O'Sullivan 7, E Cadogan 7; K O'Driscoll 7, B O'Driscoll 8, D Hazel 7; I Maguire 7, S Kiely 7; C O'Driscoll 7, L Connolly 8, M Collins 7; C O'Neill 7, P Kelleher 6, P Kerrigan 7. Subs: R Deane 7 for Kiely 46, B Hurley 7 for Kelleher 46, D McEoin 6 for Connolly 62, D Goulding 6 for O'Neill 64, A O'Sullivan 6 for Maguire 67 (inj).
DOWN - M Cunningham 8; G Collins 7, G McGovern 7, D O'Hagan 7; J Flynn 6, A Carr 7, D O'Hanlon 7; P Turley 6, H Brown 6; C Maginn 6, K McKernan 7, J Murphy 5; C McGovern 6, D O'Hare 6, B O'Hagan 6. Subs: R Mallon 6 for Murphy 32 (BC), D McKibin 6 for Flynn ht, M Poland 7 for Maginn 41, P Devlin 6 for B O'Hagan 48, S Dornan 6 for O'Hare 64.
REF - S Hurson (Tyrone).