Cork footballers gear up for a rare showdown with Westmeath 

There's a lot on the line at Pairc Ui Chaoimh with the winners staying in division 2, but the losers will drop to division 3 in 2022
Cork footballers gear up for a rare showdown with Westmeath 

Donncha O'Connor is challenged by Kevin Maguire of Westmeath in the last meeting between the counties in 2014. INPHO/Ryan Byrne

CORK and Westmeath, who meet in the division 2 relegation play-off at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday at 2pm, rarely cross paths.

Their most recent engagement came on the opening round of division 1 league in 2014, when the Leinster county visited a wet Pairc Ui Rinn on the first Sunday in February.

Westmeath had won promotion from division 2 the year before along with Derry, who were crowned champions.

Cork had been squeezed out of a division 1 semi-final by Mayo on scoring difference with Kerry also in the frame, but well behind in the scoring stakes.

Cork, who paraded one newcomer in Skibbereen’s Dona Og Hodnett, jumped 0-4 to 0-1 clear inside 14 minutes with Aidan Walsh and Daniel Goulding kicking some magnificent long-range points.

Then, they went 23 minutes without a score as the wide tally built up to 11 alone in the first-half as Westmeath stormed back into contention to draw level at 0-5 apiece by the interval.

Midfielder David Duffy began to assert himself while the pace of captain Paul Sharry was another source of concern for the home side.

And when Kieran Martin guided over a free immediately on the resumption an unlikely result began to loom large until Cork went about their business impressively.

Driven on by Walsh from midfield, Cork upped the tempo, moved the ball quicker and their finishing improved considerably.

In a devastating 15-minute burst, Cork killed off the Westmeath challenge by scoring 0-9 without reply to have the two points on offer safely tucked away long before the final whistle.

Goulding started and completed the set, scoring four in all in the sequence, including a free and one fisted effort.

Others followed suit as Fintan Goold, Mark Collins, Brian Hurley, Walsh and James Loughrey kept the scoreboard ticking along at the appropriate rate.

By the 53rd minute Cork had surged 0-14 to 0-6 in front and this prompted the usual practice of emptying the bench.

A couple of U21 defenders, Conor Dorman and Brian O’Driscoll, were introduced as was All-Ireland junior winning captain Ruairi Deane.

In the end Cork ran out comfortable 0-18 to 0-10 winners on a weekend, when Dublin pipped Kerry by a point, 2-8 to 1-10, and Kildare edged Mayo by the minimum margin, too.

Derry announced their arrival in the top tier by drawing with Tyrone.

Cork topped the table that season, winning five, drawing one and losing once on reaching 11 points, two more than Derry, Dublin and Mayo.

Westmeath’s stay in division 1 lasted just a season as they returned to division 2 after losing all seven games and conceding 10 goals and 125 points in the process.

They were joined by Kildare, who finished on four points, two less than Kerry.

In the semi-finals Cork lost to the Dubs by 2-20 to 2-13, Collins and Colm O’Neill scoring the Cork goals.

Derry edged Mayo in the other game, winning by 2-15 to 1-16, but the Ulster county were no match for Dublin in the final, going down by 3-19 to 1-10.

Scorers for Cork: D Goulding 0-7, 3f, A Walsh 0-3, M Collins 0-2, J Loughrey, F Goold, B Hurley, D Og Hodnett, B O’Driscoll, J O’Rourke 0-1 each.

Scorers for Westmeath: J Heslin 0-4f, G Egan 0-2, K Martin 0-1f, J Egan and R Connellan 0-1 each.

CORK: K O’Halloran (Bishopstown); J McLoughlin (Kanturk), E Cadogan (Douglas), M Shields (St Finbarr’s), captain; J Loughrey (Mallow), T Clancy (Clonakilty), T Clancy (Fermoy); A Walsh (Kanturk), A O’Sullivan (Castletownbere); M Collins (Castlehaven), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers), F Goold (Macroom); D Goulding (Eire Og), B Hurley (Castlehaven), D Og Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa). Subs: D O’Connor (Ballydesmond) for Kerrigan, C Dorman (Bishopstown) for Shields, B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs) for T Clancy (Fermoy), R Deane (Bantry Blues) for T Clancy (Clonakilty), J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) for Collins, J Hayes (Carbery Rangers) for Hurley.

WESTMEATH: D Quinn; S Gilmore, K Maguire, Damien Dolan; J Dolan, J Gilligan, J Gonoud; D Duffy, D Corroon; G Egan, J Egan, P Sharry, captain; K Martin, J Heslin, A Giles. Subs: D Glennon for Giles, K Gavin for Damien Dolan, Dessie Dolan for Martin, R Connellan for Corroon, D McNicholas for Heslin.

Referee: P O’Shea (Kerry).

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