Counihan cheered by green flags as Rebels' power 'chastens' Down
Having scored only one goal in their first three league games, Cork found their touch at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday.
Cork's first goal came from Pearse O'Neill in the seventh minute, and the hosts were far more clinical than the side they defeated in the All-Ireland final. Manager Conor Counihan (right) was pleased to see some green flags raised.
"We're constantly working hard in training with the lads to create that and it was nice to see them go in," he said. "But we need to do that now on a consistent basis."
Counihan was keen to stress that although the Rebels are All-Ireland champions, laurels cannot be rested on either.
"You're trying to get guys to keep working and keep improving all the time," he said.
"You don't want them to sit back and be happy with what they've done. In fairness to the guys, they are doing that, but we're up there now to be hit at.
"Every team comes out against us with guns blazing so it's up to us to cope with that."
At times, this game threatened to be a tough challenge for Cork.
Down, with Martin Clarke impressing, levelled at 1-5 to 0-8 in the 27th minute, but with Daniel Goulding in fine form -- he scored seven points in the first half -- the hosts led by 1-9 to 0-10 at half-time.
The second half began as if it would follow the same pattern, a Clarke free tying up matters at 1-10 to 0-13 on 43 minutes, but from there the Mourne Men only scored two more points, as Cork went into overdrive.
Fintan Goold and Patrick Kelly chipped in with points as Cork pulled away.
The outcome was more or less assured when Colm O'Neill scored a fine goal with 12 minutes left for a 2-15 to 0-15 lead.
Down wing-back Aidan Branagan was sent off late on, and insult was added to injury when Kelly got the third goal in the game's dying embers.
Down manager James McCartan couldn't but be impressed by the Rebels' power.
"Nobody gets any easy points on the road, especially when you're coming to the home of the All-Ireland champions," McCartan said.
"Cork are a very strong team and have a very strong bench. It was chastening watching the last 20 minutes.
"We were in the hunt for 50 minutes, even if we were living off scraps of possession -- we were looking dangerous when we had the ball.
"But it's the same old story for us: trying to win primary possession off Cork is difficult."
Man of the Match: Daniel Goulding
Scorers -- Cork: D Goulding 0-7 (5f), P Kelly 1-2 (1f), C O'Neill 1-1, F Goold 0-3, P O'Neill 1-0, C Sheehan 0-2, D Goold, A Walsh 0-1 each. Down: M Poland 0-3 (2f), R Murtagh, M Clarke (1f) 0-2 each, K McKernan, C Murdock (1 '45'), P Fitzpatrick, C Laverty, D Hughes, D Rooney, A Branagan, C Garvey 0-1 each.
CORK -- K O'Halloran 5; R Carey 6, M Shields 7, E Cadogan 7; N O'Leary 7, D O'Sullivan 5, P Kissane 6; A O'Connor 7, N Murphy 6; F Goold 7, P Kelly 8, P O'Neill 7; D Goulding 8, C O'Neill 6, C Sheehan 6. Subs: A Walsh 7 for Murphy (44), S Kiely 7 for O'Sullivan (44), F Lynch for O'Leary (62), D Goold for C O'Neill (63), J Fitzpatrick for A O'Connor (68).
DOWN -- C Murdock 6; G McCartan 6, D Gordon 6, L Howard 5; A Branagan 5, K McKernan 7, D Rooney 6; P Fitzpatrick 6, K King 6; D Hughes 7, M Poland 7, C Maginn 5; C Laverty 5, R Murtagh 6, M Clark 7e. Subs: J Colgan 6 for King (44), P McComiskey 6 for Murtagh (44), C Garvey 6 for Howard (48), J Clarke for Laverty (56), A Carr for M Clarke (62).
Ref -- D Fahy (Longford).