Down 0-10 Cork 1-13
IT wasn't a surprise that Cork won their second-round championship game against Down on Saturday afternoon, nor was it odd that the margin of victory was considered small.
An early start, a long bus journey and sweltering heat, as expected Cork were slow out of the blocks in Newry. In fact, they never hit full gear for the entire game in what was a frustrating hour, due to a ferocious effort by the home side.
With Down piling players behind the ball, with Dearbhla Magee, in particular, working very well as a sweeper Cork never found the space they like to enjoy, but that was a good lesson learned on the day. Mentally Cork kept plugging away, kept their discipline, and got a result. A job well done.
Sara Louise Carr was a big loss for Down, injured last weekend against Waterford, with Paula O’Hagan also out. Cork for their part rested Ashling Thompson, Meabh Cahalane and Ciara O’Sullivan from the side which started against Dublin last week. Back into the starting 15 came Orla Cronin alongside Ashling Egan and Izzy O’Regan.
On a raw, sunburnt pitch, Cork led from the first minute with an Amy O’Connor point but never more than two points separated the sides in the opening half until Fiona Keating slipped through two defenders and found herself with a clear path to goal. She ran with it and buried the ball in the net on 30 minutes for Cork to lead 1-6 to 0-4.
Sorcha McCartan, now playing her club camogie with St Finbarr's was prominent in the opening quarter, hitting two points and working hard around the middle third.
Laura Hayes was again leading for Cork at wing-back and hit her second point, matched by a Niamh Mallon free to leave five in it at the halftime whistle.
The game was very stop-start, particularly in the second half, with deliveries and puck-outs excessively going over the sidelines. Referee Gavin Donegan played no part in the flow of the game as the whistle was well used.
Linda Collins was troublesome for Down, winning good ball, offloading, or winning frees.
Both sides had several wides, Cork for the second week in a row guilty of some scoreable shots going wide of the post from play and placed balls.
Hannah Looney was Cork’s instigator of many scores, helping her defence and again charging forward, causing massive problems for the home side.
Cork continued to find it hard to make headway up front such was Down’s defensive strategy but what can you expect from a side playing in the top division for the first time in over 20 years. In that regard, they’ll be very happy with how they held Cork to a respectable score and despite only two players registering on their own scoresheet they set up several attacks but finishing let them down.
They showed no fear of Cork, as mentioned last week they relished one of the top counties in the country for the past 30 years visiting their home. And full credit to them.
On sixty-one minutes Down won a free just outside the 20-metre line.
Yes, Cork has the goal full but seven points down and time almost up, for experience alone Down should have tried to prise that defence and go for goal. As it was, Niamh Mallon was content to strike it over the bar to set the final score at 1-13 to 0-10 before Cork set off on the long journey home.