Down 0-18 Cork 2-8
DOWN booked their place in the last four of the Littlewoods Division 2 National league with four points to spare over Cork in O'Moore Park on Saturday.
Playing against the wind in the opening half Down led 0-9 to 1-4 at the interval thanks in the main to the excellent free-taking of Sarah Louise Graffin who was on target with three long-range efforts. Through the opening 30 minutes Down created three goal chances both Cork defence who were coming under huge pressure kept them at bay.
At the other end, Cork grabbed the lone goal chance they created, Finola Neville setting up Kate O’Keeffe with a superb pass at a stage in the game when Down led 0-5 to 0-1.
Hayley Ryan opened the Cork account with a third-minute point but with ref Barry Nea penalising Cork several times for throwing the ball Graffin was content to pop over the points. Ali Smith with two and Kate O’Keeffe ensured Cork were still within touching distance as they trailed by two at the break.
On the restart, Smith immediately cut the deficit but a tough Down defence dropped back in numbers and held Cork scoreless for 17 minutes.
Down regrouped and hit three points in a row before the second water break: Paula O’Hagan, Sorcha McCartan and Niamh Mallon putting them four points clear.
Sub Katie Walsh narrowed the gap with a Cork point and with both sides digging deep they swapped points through O’Hagan and Smith. Down began to push forward and held their composure enjoying a productive spell which produced four in a row and a 0-17 to 1-7 lead.
Cork battled on in the closing stages. Hayley Ryan pointed a free and when Michele Murphy was pulled down in the square Finola Neville confidently slotted the penalty to trim the gap to three points. Cork needed to win the puck-out but Down sub Anna Rogan who won possession and slotted over from 65 metres out to send her sides safely through.
In the other quarter-finals Wexford defeated Westmeath, Antrim overcame Galway and a last-minute goal saw Meath beat Kilkenny by a point.
P O'Hagan 0-7 (0-6 f), N Mallon 0-6, S L Graffin 0-2, C Fitzpatrick, A Rogan, S Mc Cartan 0-1 each.
K O’Keeffe 1-1, A Smith 0-4 (0-2 f), F Neville 1-0 pen, H Ryan 0-2 (0-1 f), K Walsh 0-1 -6.
C Mc Gourty; C Caldwell, D Magee, E Rafferty; B Fitzpatrick, P O’ Hagan, K McMullen; A Keown, D Savage; A McAleenan, S L Graffin (c), S McCartan; N Mallon C Fitzpatrick, C Cowen.
A Rogan for A McAleenan (38), R Smyth for K Mc Mullen(62).
S Beausang; G Hannon, D Carroll, A Crowley; C Daly, A O’ Callaghan, K Kilcommins; L Callanan, M Murphy; K O’ Keeffe, A smith, R Harty; H Ryan, F Neville, A Hurley.
K Walsh for K O’Keeffe (45), C Finn for A Hurley (47), E Flanagan for L Callanan (55), C O’Leary for A Smith (59).
Barry Nea (Westmeath).