Monday 23 July 2018

Cork bounce back up with win in Down

NFL Division 2, Round 2: Down 0-10 Cork 1-13

Cillian O’Hanlon of Cork in action against Niall McParland of Down during the Football League match at Páirc Esler in Newry
Cillian O’Hanlon of Cork in action against Niall McParland of Down during the Football League match at Páirc Esler in Newry

Gareth McCullough

A strong second half performance saw Cork ease to their first league win as they swept aside the challenge of Down in Newry with a seven-point margin of victory.

Mark Collins' goal after the break changed the course of the game as the visitors ran away with it from thereon in. It was a goal that owed as much to some calamitous football from the home side as it did to any great Cork play. Even Collins admitted post-match that he had got somewhat fortuitous with his finish that looped over Shane Harrison.

But it was luck that the Rebels deserved as they always looked stronger and were never behind at any stage of the game. It was also a big boost for manager Ronan McCarthy to pick up his first league win in charge, following on from the 3-16 to 1-6 opening day defeat at home to Tipperary.

Collins was the star of the show as he hit five points, two from frees, on top of that aforementioned goal and generally gave the Down defence a torrid time throughout on a perfect day for football in Pairc Esler.

Cork began the brighter of the two sides following the delayed throw-in due to crowd congestion, as the visitors notched five out of the first six scores of the game.

Colm O'Neill opened their account in the second minute before his opposite number, Connaire Harrison, replied for Down three minutes later. However, it was the Rebels who took charge as a pair of almost identical points from the right by Sean White were followed up by successive frees by O'Neill and Mark Collins to put Ronan McCarthy's men 0-5 to 0-1 to the good with only 14 minutes on the clock.

That seemed to stir Down into action and Eamonn Burns' side hit back with a run of three consecutive points of their own with a goal chance in between.

Anthony Doherty knocked over a free before Sam Ryan produced a fine block to deny Caolan Mooney a shot on goal after the Down man had powered forward. Darragh O'Hanlon reduced the deficit with a free and then Doherty close the gap to the minimum with a 35-metre free on 21 minutes.

At the other end, Collins registered twice from play either side of another Doherty free before O'Hanlon converted his second placed ball of the half in stoppage time to leave it 0-7 to 0-6 at the break.

Down drew level six minutes after the restart through Shay Millar, but two quickfire points from Collins, one a free, edged the away side ahead by two midway through the second half. And while a long-distance effort from Mooney closed the gap to 0-9 to 0-8 on 53 minutes, a close-range Collins free preceded a Cork goal three minutes later.

It all came from an awful kick-out by Shane Harrison that went straight to Ruairi Deane. He played in Collins who spotted the Down keeper off his line and cleverly looped the ball over him and into the net. O'Neill then added a free to put Cork in a 1-11 to 0-8 lead with 12 minutes remaining.

Cork sub Peter Kelleher increased the advantage to seven before O'Neill added his fourth free of the day and while Down subs Ryan Johnston and Kevin McKernan pointed in stoppage time, it was merely an irrelevance in terms of the scoreline.

Seconds before the final whistle, Jamie O'Sullivan and Down's Connaire Harrison were sent off after a scuffle with O'Sullivan receiving what appeared to be a second yellow card while Harrison was given a straight red.

Harrison's anger seemed to be borne out of the fact that O'Sullivan had wrapped him all afternoon, completely nullifying one of Down's most potent threats.

Down: S Harrison; C Flanagan, D O'Hagan, B McArdle; D O'Hanlon (0-2f), N McParland, A Doherty (0-3f); C Poland, N Donnelly; C Mooney (0-1), C Maginn, S Millar (0-1); D O'Hare, C Harrison (0-1), A Morgan. Subs: B O'Hagan for O'Hare (51 mins), K McKernan (0-1) for Maginn (51 mins), R Johnston (0-1) for Millar (56 mins), D McKibbin for Doherty (56 mins)

Cork: M White; S Ryan, J O'Sullivan, M McSweeney; K Flahive, B O'Driscoll, T Clancy; I Maguire, C O'Hanlon; S White (0-2), K Crowley, R Deane; J O'Rourke, C O'Neill (0-5, 4f), M Collins (1-5, 2f). Subs: M Hurley for O'Rourke (44 mins), C Dorman for O'Driscoll (51 mins), P Kelleher (0-1) for O'Hanlon (60 mins), M Taylor for White (63 mins), C Dorgan for Flahive (68 mins), S Sherlock for O'Neill (69mins)

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)