Cork 1-15 Leitrim 0-9
CORK achieved back-to-back wins in the opening two league rounds for the first time since 2015 as Leitrim were seen off at Avantcard Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada on Sunday.
While the Rebels led from the 13th minute, they were pushed throughout by a dogged Leitrim side, who came into the game on the back of a draw with Derry.
Cork had the wind in the first half, but struggled to take full advantage for long periods, with Leitrim’s massed defensive ranks proving difficult to break down.
While Keith Beirne’s opening free for Leitrim was answered by a good team move that ended with Ciarán Sheehan scoring in the eighth minute, the hosts’ tenacity meant that Cork would have to wait until the 13th minute to lead, with two in quick succession from Cathail O’Mahony.
A good Beirne score in reply had the gap down to a point and Leitrim might have led as Beirne fed Darragh Rooney, who was denied by a good Micheál Martin save. On 19, Cork had the first of four good first-half goal chances, with Sheehan flicking on to O’Mahony but Diarmuid McKiernan did well to save.
Cork got some momentum as O’Mahony and John O’Rourke eased them three clear but again they were almost caught at the other end, Shane Quinn’s ball nearly putting Beirne in but for an illegal sliding tackle by Kevin Crowley, who was yellow-carded. Beirne pointed the free.
Just after the half-hour, a lovely Cork move involving Luke Connolly – just on a as sub – Sheehan and O’Rourke saw the ball worked to Ian Maguire but again McKieran prevented a goal. Moments later, a Maguire turnover allowed Sheehan to make it 0-6 to 0-3 and he would add a goal in injury time.
Once more, Cork moved the ball quickly, with Ruairí Deane and Thomas Clancy to the fore, and Sheehan wasn’t going to miss from close range. Indeed, Connolly almost added a second green flag but McKiernan made his third good save of the half.
Clancy’s point left it 1-7 to 0-3 at the break and, while Beirne had a free on the resumption, Cork moved eight clear thanks to Connolly and Tadhg Corkery, though they were reduced to 14 as Connolly was black-carded.
In the period of numerical disparity, Beirne added two points, one a free, but missed a chance to cut the lead to five and Cork were 1-10 to 0-6 ahead on 57 minutes as Paul Kerrigan scored with his first touch. Moments later, Connolly almost marked his return with a goal but he fired a low shot wide after Kerrigan and Maguire combined to fashion a chance for him.
Seán White extended the Cork lead but Leitrim refused to wilt and sub Evan Sweeney became their second scorer on 62 before an unforced Cork error from the kick-out led to a free, allowing Beirne to claim his seventh point.
Cork and Connolly finished well though, as he kicked two frees, claimed an attacking mark leading to a point and first-time fisted over from a Deane pass late on.
Scorers for Cork: C Sheehan 1-2, L Connolly 0-5 (0-2 f, 0-1 mark), C O’Mahony 0-3 (0-1 free), J O’Rourke, T Clancy, T Corkery, S White, P Kerrigan 0-1 each.
Leitrim: K Beirne 0-7 (0-5 f), R Mulvey, E Sweeney 0-1 each.
CORK: M Martin; K Crowley, Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty), L O’Donovan; T Corkery, S Powter, M Taylor; I Maguire, B Hartnett; R Deane, S White, J O’Rourke; M Hurley, C Sheehan, C O’Mahony.
Subs: L Connolly for Hurley (30), K O’Driscoll for O’Rourke, P Kerrigan for O’Mahony (bth 55), C Kiely for Powter (58), R Harkin for Sheehan (67).
LEITRIM: D McKiernan; C Reynolds, F McTague, P Maguire; C McGloin, J Gilheany, A Flynn; D Wrynn, S Moran; D Flynn, D McGovern, S Quinn; O McCaffrey, D Rooney, K Beirne.
Subs: R Mulvey for McTague (39), P Dolan for McCaffrey (45), E Sweeney for Rooney (52), R O’Rourke for Gilheany (54, injured), O McLoughlin for Moran (66).
Referee: P Maguire (Longford)