Both sides were without familiar names and it was the visitors who started the better, going in front 0-4 to 0-0 with points from Briege Corkery, Rhona Ni Bhuachalla and Valerie Mulcahy (2).
Monaghan finally got on the scoresheet thanks to a converted free by Cathríona McConnell on the quarter-hour mark, and the Donaghmoyne star quickly added the only goal of the game thanks to an assist from Ciara McAnespie. Gregory McGonigle’s side grew in confidence, and although Orlagh Farmer added a point for Cork, Monaghan produced three unanswered scores from Cora Courtney and McAnespie to lead 1-5 to 0-5 at the turnaround.
On the restart, despite good defensive work from Brid Stack, captain Anne-Marie Walsh and Aisling Hutchings, Monaghan hit a purple patch with Sharon Courtney, Eileen McKenna, Caoimhe Mohan, Laura McEneaney and Ciara McAnespie all raising white flags. However, Eamonn Ryan’s charges weren’t going down without a fight and Orla Finn, Farmer and Mulcahy all slung over points.
But converted frees by McConnell and Ellen McCarron ensured the four-point win for Monaghan.
Mayo began life under former Dublin boss Peter Clarke with an impressive 2-12 to 2-6 victory over Tyrone; Laois defeated Donegal (1-16 to 1-9) while Dublin overcame Meath by 2-6 to 0-10 at Fingallians.
In the top game in Division 2, Kildare needed a late goal to claim a draw against Galway in a cracking tie while Kerry hammered Waterford 5-25 to 1-11.
Scorers for Monaghan: C McConnell 1-2 (0-2 frees), C McAnespie 0-4, S Courtney, C Courtney, L McEnaney, C Mohan and E McKenna 0-1 each and E McCarron 0-1 (free).
Scorers for Cork: V Mulcahy 0-4 (0-1f), O Finn 0-3, O Farmer 0-2, R Ní Bhuachalla and D O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
MONAGHAN: L Martin; C Duffy, G McNally, C Reilly; E Mcelroy, S Courtney, A McAnespie; C Courtney, E McKenna; A Newell, C Mohan, L McEaney; C McConnell, C McAnespie, E McCarron.
CORK: L Crowley; AM Walsh, B Stack, A Barrett; B Corkery, R Buckley, G O’Flynn; Annie Walsh, A Hutchings; O Farmer, S Harrington, O Finn; D O’Sullivan, V Mulcahy, R Ní Bhuachalla. Subs: V Foley, S Kelly and E Farmer.
Referee: E O’Hare (Down).