CORK strengthened their grip at the top of Division 3 in the national football league by defeating Down by 0-16 to 1-8 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
Ronan McCarthy’s charges maintained their winning start to make it three victories on the spin and remain a point in front of Longford, who they visit on the last day of the competition.
But, Cork have opened up a three-point lead over Down, Tipperary and Derry as they pursue one of the two promotion places on offer in the seven-match schedule.
McCarthy was delighted with the result and the manner of the performance as Storm Ciara blew with some ferocity from the start.
“We didn't downplay the significance of the game to the players. We felt if we could win today, it would really put us in pole position for the remainder of the league.
“Having bigged up the game beforehand, I am not going to sit here afterwards and say it is not important.
“It’s a crucial victory really against a good side that played really well against Derry last week, when they came from behind to win,” he said.
Cork played with the howling wind from the start and led by 0-8 to 0-2 at half-time with newcomers Cathail O’Mahony and Damien Gore holding their nerve to slot a couple of important early frees in the testing conditions.
And despite turning around to play with the elements, Down, who kicked 13 wides, couldn’t come to terms with rampant Cork during a decisive third quarter.
The home side outscored their opponents by 0-6 to 0-3 in the spell and despite finishing with 13 men, Cork ran out comfortable winners as the league takes a welcome breather next week-end. Cork supplied 11 scorers, from full-back Tom Clancy to O'Mahony and Gore in the corners.
“I was happier today with Damien, who had a tough day the first day against Offaly, but was much better today.
“He kicked one cracking score where he sold the dummy and kicked a beauty.
“You saw flashes of the brilliant player Cathail is going to be. He had one incredible score in the second-half against the wind.
“It looked easy, but what a stunning score. Having missed or two in the first-half, it was great to see that.
“He's developed really well and has gotten stronger as the games have gone on.”
The only downside was the sight of Kevin Crowley, who was playing very well, holding his arm as he was helped off near the end.
It meant Cork finished with 13 after Sean White was shown a second yellow card.