Following a draw with Offaly and defeat by Waterford, Cork finally hit the jackpot with goals from Joe Deane, Conor Cusack and Brian Corcoran and a litany of points from every member of the attack as well as from excellent midfielders John Gardiner and Erin’s Own’s Kieran Murphy.
Wing back Peter Kelly and corner back Cian O’Connor also got into the scoring act as Cork led from the start in what was a fiasco of a game.
Down, parading seven of the Ballygalget side that ran Newtownshandrum so close in the All-Ireland Club semi-final, were swept off their feet by the vastly superior power of the home side, who strolled home after Joe Deane shot them into the lead with a point from a free following the very first attack of the match.
With John Gardiner dominant at midfield, and Joe Deane and Brian Corcoran serving up exhibition-like stuff in attack, a vast gulf in standards opened up between the sides as Cork stormed into a five-point lead before Martin Coulter, with a pointed free, had Down’s opening score in the 15th minute.
Deane and Corcoran were on song, and with the splendid Cork defence in total control Down, who scored just five points from play over the 70 minutes, never got a look-in.
Joe Deane, back to his best, wreaked havoc up front as Cork extended their lead to 10-points before Andy Savage scored Down’s second point in the 21st minute. Brian Corcoran was denied a goal by a great block from Gary Savage as Cork piled on the pressure and added chapter after chapter to what was a dreadful tale of woe for the visitors.
It was 0-12 to 0-4 coming up to half time when Down got a great goal opportunity. Cork full back Diarmuid O’Sullivan was controversially penalised and Down were awarded a penalty.
However, Paul Bramff’s conversion attempt was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Anthony Nash, who made a very confident senior League debut.
To rub further salt into Down’s gaping wounds Deane delicately flicked home a long delivery from centre back Ronan Curran to set up Cork for a 1-13 to 0-4 interval lead.
With Down hopelessly out of touch and never looking like getting into the game - watched by a few hundred supporters - Cork, with some splendid points from new centre-forward Ciaran McGann and right half forward Kieran Murphy, of Sarsfields, stretched their advantage to 19-points before Conor Cusack had their second goal in the 56th minute.
The third goal from Brian Corcoran came seven minutes later and Cork, who could afford the luxury of replacing Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Joe Deane and John Gardiner, who limped off with a leg injury, ran out the easiest of winners in what was a total mismatch.
: Cork: J. Deane 1-7 (0-2 from frees; 0-1 from 65); B. Corcoran 1-3; C. Cusack 1-1; K. Murphy (Sars) 0-3; C. McGann 0-3; K. Murphy (Erins Own) 0-2; N. Ronan 0-2 (0-1 from free); P. Kelly, C. O’Connor, R. Conway and J. Gardiner (free), 0-1 each. Down: P. Bramff 0-4 (0-2 from frees); M. Coulter 0-2 (0-2 from frees); A. Savage, B. McGourty and S. Murray 0-1 each.
: A. Nash; C. O’Connor, D. O’Sullivan, D. McSweeney; S. O’Neill, R. Curran, P. Kelly; J. Gardiner, K. Murphy (Erins Own); K. Murphy (Sars), C. McGann, N. Ronan; J. Deane, B. Corcoran, C. Cusack. Subs: W. Sherlock for O’Sullivan; R. Conway for Deane; G. Callinan for Gardiner (leg injury).
: G. Clarke; P. Hughes, G. Savage, L. Clarke; G. Clarke, C. Courtney, S. Murray; A. Savage, C. Coulter; B. McCourty, P. Bramff, E. Clarke; E. McGuinness, G. Johnston, M. Coulter. Subs: S. Roddy for Hughes; A. Dynos for McGuinness; R. McGrattan for C. Coulter.
: D. Connolly (Kilkenny).