Second-half display seals win for Cork

Cork 3-17 Down 0-15

Cork 3-17 Down 0-15

A hat-trick of goals undid Down's unbeaten Division 1 run as Cork claimed a well-merited 11-point win under the Páirc Uí Rinn floodlights.

Pearse O'Neill, Paddy Kelly and Colm O'Neill all netted for the Rebels who gained the upper hand in the closing quarter.

Cork led by 1-9 to 0-10 at half-time, with Daniel Goulding tallying up seven points for them.

Scores from Daniel Hughes, Declan Rooney and Marty Clarke brought Down level inside eight minutes of the restart, but Conor Counihan's men staged a storming finish.

3,174 spectators were treated to a classic encounter played at Championship pace. The result moves the Rebels into second spot in the table, tucked in behind Dublin on scoring difference.

This was a closely-fought contest and there was echoes of last September's All-Ireland SFC final, with ten of the Cork team from that day on duty tonight. Down boss James McCartan fielded eight players who started at Croke Park six months ago.

Colm O'Neill's goal was the turning point for the All-Ireland champions as prior to his 57th minute effort, the game was still in the melting pot.

The Ballyclough clubman slotted home after rounding Down full-back Dan Gordon, to give his side a 2-14 to 0-14 advantage.

Down got off to a superb start and led by 0-02 to 0-00 after just two minutes. Ronan Murtagh opened the scoring with a impressive strike from near the left sideline and Mark Poland added a free.

However, Counihan's Rebels were quick to respond. Daniel Goulding landed a brace of frees, before Pearse O'Neill raced onto a through ball from Paudie Kissane and goaled off the ground. Cork continued to build momentum with Fintan Goold on target, pushing the hosts' lead out to 1-03 to 0-02.

Down showed great composure over the next 10 minutes. Kevin McKernan fired over an excellent point and did well in open play, and Poland tagged on two more, including a free.

During that time, though, Cork free-taker Goulding also notched up two points to ensure a 1-05 to 0-05 scoreline after 20 minutes' play.

However, Down bounced back with goalkeeper Cathal Murdock landing a 45-metre free. They were back on level terms (0-08 to 1-05) in the 28th minute following scores from Ronan Murtagh and Marty Clarke.

Cork came back to life, with the unstoppable Goulding steadying the ship. Down midfielder Peter Fitzpatrick hit back with a point, which TV replays proved was wide. It was a stroke of luck they deserved as, earlier, Conor Laverty had a goal harshly disallowed.

With a fisted point, Colm O'Neill became the fourth Cork forward to get off the mark and Goulding brought his first half tally to 0-07 with a well-taken score from play. Laverty closed out the scoring in injury-time.

It was typically end to end stuff and Down looked to be hitting their stride with a run of three early points in the second half. Hughes, Rooney and Marty Clarke (free) levelled the tie at 1-10 to 0-13.

However, Cork answered back with three of them own, with Paddy Kelly becoming the latest of their forwards to split the posts.

Cork were enjoying the majority of possession and launching attack after attack. After Down's Aidan Brannigan and Cork substitute Aidan Walsh traded points, Cork landed a killer blow with their second goal.

On the hour mark, Colm O'Neill cut in from the left and beat Down goalkeeper Murdock with a low, powerful strike. The Rebels were two goals to the good and within sight of victory.

With a comeback from Down appearing unlikely, the intensity of the game decreased a little towards the end.

By the 65-minute mark, Cork had increased their lead to 2-16 to 0-15 thanks to further points from Goulding and substitute David Goold.

Then came the final nail in Down's coffin - defender Brannigan received a straight red card for raising his hand. Ultimately, Cork emerged as clear winners, aided by a late goal from Kelly.

CORK: K O'Halloran; R Carey, E Cadogan, M Shields; N O'Leary, P Kissane, D O'Sullivan; A O'Connor, N Murphy; F Goold (0-03), P Kelly (1-01), P O'Neill (1-00); D Goulding (0-09, 0-06f), C Sheehan (0-01), C O'Neill (1-01).

Subs used: A Walsh (0-01) for Murphy, S Kiely for O'Sullivan (both 44 mins), F Lynch for O'Leary (61), D Goold (0-01) for C O'Neill (63), J Fitzpatrick for O'Connor (68).

DOWN: C Murdock (0-01, 0-01 '45'); G McCartan, D Gordon, L Howard; A Brannigan (0-01), K McKernan (0-01), D Rooney (0-01); P Fitzpatrick (0-01), K King; D Hughes (0-01), M Poland (0-03, 0-02f), C Maginn; C Laverty (0-01), R Murtagh (0-02), M Clarke (0-02, 0-01f).

Subs used: J Colgan for King, P McComiskey for Murtagh (both 44 mins), C Garvey (0-01) for Howard (48), J Clarke for Laverty (56), A Carr for M Clarke (61).

Referee: Derek Fahy (Longford).

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