Out of sorts Down slip up against classy Cork in Newry

Out of sorts Down slip up against classy Cork in Newry

7 February 2018

DOWN were masters of their own downfall at Pairc Esler on Sunday when Cork produced a compelling display to take the spoils.

Last week’s win against Meath counted for nothing as Down failed to kick on from that performance and Cork had little difficulty in recording a significant victory.

Cork opened the scoring through the experienced Colm O’Neill in the first minute, but this score was quickly cancelled out by Connaire Harrison after early ball into the full forward line.

The visitors then took a vice-like grip in the middle of the park and dominated proceedings. They also squeezed the life out of Down on their kick outs and as a result, picked off the next four scores without reply.

Points flowed from Sean White (2), O’Neill and Mark Collins as Cork eased into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead after 13 minutes. Down were really struggling to get a foothold in the game, but with 16 minutes gone Anthony Doherty and Darragh O’Hanlon gave then some respite with two converted frees to leave two points between the sides.

Cork continued to dominate in and around the middle of the park and Collins extended their lead to three points when Down yet again gave up possession far too easily.

Two super scores from the accurate Doherty suddenly brought Down right back into contention, but Cork responded with a point from Collins as they took a 0-7 to 0-5 lead after 32 minutes. 

Down had the last say of a disappointing first half when an O’Hanlon free reduced the deficit at the break to just a point, 0-7 to 0-6.

The second half started brightly for Down with Conor Poland and Niall Donnelly pushing their side forward, but apart from a Shay Millar point to bring the sides level, there was no end product from Eamon Burns’ side.

Cork, who were able to defend in numbers to frustrate Down, had no such bother and two unanswered points from Collins edged the visitors into a 0-9 to 0-7 lead.

Caolan Mooney, who didn’t see enough of the ball, responded with a superlative score for Down, but even this score failed to ignite his team-mates.         

Down conceded a needless free that was punished by O’Neill and when Collins secured possession from Harrison’s misplaced kick out, he was able to plant the ball in the back of the net with the Down ‘keeper stranded.

Cork now held a 1-10 to 0-8 lead and there simply was no way back for Down as a dejected home side just went through the motions for the rest of the game.

Cork piled on the agony with points from O’Neill (2) and Peter Kelleher to stretch their lead to eight points with three minutes remaining.

Down managed to plunder the game’s final two scores through Ryan Johnston and Kevin McKernan, but they were too little too late for the home side.

Things went from bad to worse for Down in the closing stages as Connaire Harrison saw red when he clashed with Cork’s Jamoe O’Sullivan and will now miss this Sunday’s crucial game away to Roscommon.

Down: S Harrison, C Flanagan, D O’Hagan, B McArdle, D O’Hanlon (0-2 frees), N McParland, A Doherty ()0-3 frees), C Poland, N Donnelly, C Mooney (0-1), C Maginn, S Millar (0-1), D O’Hare, C Harrison (0-1), A Morgan. Subs: K McKernan (0-1) for Maginn, B O’Hagan for O’Hare, D McKibbin for Doherty, R Johnston (0-1) for Millar.

Cork: M White, S Ryan, J O’Sullivan, M McSweeney, K Flahive, B O’Driscoll, T Clancy, I Maguire, C O’Hanlon, S White (0-2), K Crowley, R Deane, J O’Rourke, C O’[Neill (0-5, 0-4 frees), M Collins (1-5). Subs: M Hurley for O’Rourke, C Dorman for O’Driscoll, P Kelleher (0-1) for O’Hanlon, M Taylor for White, C Dorgan for Flahive, S Sherlock for O’Neill.