Cork took another step towards promotion from Division 3 of the Allianz Football League when seeing off the challenge of Down this afternoon.
Cork’s second home win of the campaign maintained their perfect start to the league, Ronan McCarthy’s charges taking the maximum six points on offer from the opening three rounds to cement their place at the head of the Division 3 table.
The hosts would have been concerned at the break that their six-point interval advantage, having played with a gale behind them in the opening period, would prove insufficient in the face of the inevitable Down fightback, but while Paddy Tally’s men rallied late on to close the gap to four, they never appeared capable of gaining parity.
The decisive period of this contest, watched by a crowd of just 1,658, was the third quarter, where Cork, instead of allowing Down eat into their lead and, in the process, build up a head of steam, kicked a string of fine points to open up a sizeable and significant gap between the counties.
Ian Maguire (0-2), Liam O’Donovan, Damien Gore, Tadhg Corkery, and Cathail O’Mahony were the providers during this spell, Cork stretching their lead out to nine, 0-14 to 0-5, by the 54th minute.
Sean White was lost to a second yellow card soon after, but not even this numerical disadvantage and a 66th minute Cory Quinn goal for Down could prevent the Rebels from making it three wins from three.
Cork played with a gale behind them in the opening half, but the 0-8 to 0-2 scoreline certainly didn’t reflect the extent to which the home side dominated the first 35 minutes.
Cork, as well struggling to break down the wall of Down shirts inside the 45-metre line, were wasteful with several opportunities, running up six wides. One of those was a Ciarán Sheehan goal effort pulled across the face of goal.
Where Cork did enjoy success was underneath the Down restarts, Cork’s four-man inside line press forcing Rory Burns to go long with several of his kickouts.
The visitors to Páirc Uí Chaoimh were first off the mark, with Donal O’Hare splitting the posts two minutes in. They would not add to this tally, though, over the ensuing 31 minutes of action, during which time Ronan McCarthy’s charges reeled off seven without reply.
Each of Cork’s inside line found the target from placed-ball efforts, with John O’Rourke, Brian Hartnett, and Thomas Clancy also contributing.
Cork continued to push further into the distance upon the restart, this five-point victory extending to nine the county's unbeaten run over Down.
Scorers for Cork: D Gore (0-3, 0-2 frees), C O'Mahony (0-3, 0-2 frees); I Maguire (0-2); T Clancy, L O'Donovan, T Corkery, B Hartnett, J O'Rourke, C Sheehan (0-1 free), L Connolly (0-1 free), R Deane (0-1 each).
Scorers for Down: C Quinn (1-1); D O'Hagan, D O'Hare (0-1 free), O McCabe (0-2 each), P Devlin (0-1 each).
Cork: M Martin; S Powter, T Clancy, K Crowley; T Corkery, L O’Donovan, M Taylor; I Maguire, B Hartnett; R Deane, S White, J O’Rourke; D Gore, C Sheehan, C O’Mahony.
Subs: C O’Callaghan for Sheehan (50); L Connolly for Deane (52); P Kerrigan for Gore (55); K O’Hanlon for O’Rourke (59); C Kiely for Powter (62).
Down: R Burns; G Collins, P Murdock, R McAleenan; S Annett, D O’Hagan, J Flynn; C Poland, O McCabe; B O’Hagan P Devlin, D Guinness; J Johnston, D O’Hare, K McKernan.
Subs: L Kerr for Annett, C Quinn for McKernan (both HT); S Dornan for Devlin (48); J Guinness for Collins (51); L Middleton for Poland (66)
Referee: B Tiernan (Dublin).