Rebels sweep Monaghan aside in Division 2 final

Cork 1-14 Monaghan 0-12

Cork returned to Croke Park, the scene of their All-Ireland semi-final replay defeat by Kerry, but Conor Counihan's men will only have happy memories of this afternoon's Allianz NFL Division 2 final.

The Rebels swept Monaghan aside in a game that failed to catch fire, with a late goal from James Masters wrapping up the win.

Monaghan, the 2005 winners, struggled to get out of the traps early on and Cork led 0-5 to 0-1 midway through the opening half.

Indeed, the Farney men needed a brilliant block by Dick Clerkin on the advancing Patrick Kelly to deny Cork what looked a certain goal.

Four points from Daniel Goulding and a hat-trick from Donnacha O'Connor had Counihan's charges leading by 0-10 to 0-4 at half-time.

Monaghan closed the gap by scoring the first three points of the second half thanks to Tommy Freeman (0-2) and Paul Finlay.

But the Ulster side's attack never really gathered pace and Cork's forwards had the measure of their markers.

A fluid attack ended with Paul Kerrigan raiding down the right and handpassing in for Masters to slot a smart finish to the net and crown Cork's success.

Once again, Cork’s nascent attack proved impossible to deal with.

Counihan’s team are developing a reputation for playing an eye-catching brand of football and they will have won a few more fans with another stylish performance.

Monaghan scored a seven-point win over Cork at Scotstown in the league phase but this was an entirely different game.

After an early miss from Freeman, Kerrigan opened the scoring for his side pointing after a powerful run out wide and then Goulding clipped over a free from 45 metres out.

Mark Downey linked with Clerkin and got away from Ray Carey before firing over for Monaghan's first point but Seamus McEnaney's men lacked their usual precision in front of goal.

Paul Finlay kicked two wides and dropped a poorly-struck shot into the welcoming arms of Cork goalkeeper Alan Quirke.

Master did likewise at the other end and then Nicholas Murphy and Noel O'Leary combined to set up Kelly's goal-scoring chance which Clerkin crucially snuffed out.

After points from O'Connor and Goulding moved Cork four ahead, they missed out on another potential goal when midfielder Alan O'Connor shot wide from an advanced position.

Cork captain Graham Canty resumed normal service with a well-taken point and the neutrals breathed a sigh of relief when Freeman teed up Conor McManus for Monaghan's first score in 17 minutes.

Goulding's attacking prowess was causing numerous problems for his marker Dessie Mone and after he was turned inside out for another point, the Monaghan management sent on his brother John Paul in his place.

Ger Spillane tagged on another Cork point but Monaghan were showing glimpses of their quality. Damien Freeman raided forward from his wing back station and set up Downey for a shot at the target but net minder Quirke was equal to it and pulled off a superb save.

Further points from Donnacha O'Connor and Goulding pushed the Rebels six ahead for the break.

Monaghan clawed their way back into contention with pointed efforts, on the resumption, from Freeman, Finlay (free) and Freeman again, as he began to get the better of his marker Anthony Lynch.

In between, Cork hit wides through Goulding, Kerrigan and Alan O'Connor and their lead was beginning to look a little flimsy.

But Counihan was able to sprung Pearse O'Neill and John Hayes from the bench and the former had an immediate impact, punching over the bar before Goulding landed his fifth point of the afternoon.

Cork's lead was back out to six when Kelly opened his account with a well-taken point

Monaghan, who lost Damien Freeman to a yellow card, replied with a brace of points from Finlay and Tommy Freeman but Masters' goal provided a sting in the tail.

The Nemo Rangers ace looked to be crowded out when he received Kerrigan's pass but he placed a lovely shot through a forest of legs and beyond goalkeeper Shane Duffy's reach.

Monaghan came back for more, with points from Freeman and Finlay again, but that goal put the result beyond any doubt and Canty deservedly raised the trophy aloft just minutes after the final whistle, receiving it from a very happy fellow Corkman, new GAA President Christy Cooney.

CORK: A Quirke; R Carey, M Shields, A Lynch; N O’Leary, G Canty (0-1), G Spillane (0-1); A O’Connor (0-1); N Murphy; P O’Flynn, P Kelly (0-1), P Kerrigan (0-1); J Masters (1-0), D O’Connor (0-3, 0-1 ’45', 0-1f), D Goulding (0-5, 0-1f).

Subs used: P O’Neill (0-1) for P O’Flynn (50 mins), J Hayes for D O’Connor (52), F Goold for A O’Connor (67), C McCarthy for Goulding, J Miskella for Kelly (both 70).

MONAGHAN: S Duffy; D Mone, V Corey, D McArdle (0-1); D Freeman, G McQuaid, D Hughes; D Clerkin, O Lennon; C McManus (0-2, 0-1 ‘45'), P Finlay (0-4, 0-2f), S Gollogly; M Downey (0-1), R Woods, T Freeman (0-4, 0-1f).

Subs used: JP Mone for D Mone (28 mins), R Ronaghan for Gollogly (half-time), C Hanratty for O Lennon (50), G McEnaney for D Freeman (50, yellow card), K Hughes for Downey (55), S McAleer for Woods (67).

Referee: Syl Doyle (Wexford)

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