Allianz Football League Division 1 Semi-Final – Cork 2-17 Down 1-12

Cork 2-17 Down 1-12

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Cork had too much for Down as they reached the Allianz Football League Division 1 final Cork will meet Mayo in the Allianz Football League Division 1 final thanks to a comfortable 2-17 to 1-12 win over Down at Croke Park. Three Colm O’Neill points helped Cork to a 0-09 to 0-07 interval lead, with Conor Laverty hitting three for the Mourne men. O’Neill drilled home a 43rd minute goal as Cork went six clear, but Aidan Carr hit the net from a penalty. Cork secured their place in the decider when midfielder Alan O’Connor plundered his side’s second goal 10 minutes from the end, and O’Neill finished with a 1-06 tally.

A crowd of just 11,342 attended the double bill at GAA Headquarters, a figure which is likely to prompt questions over the wisdom of staging the games at the venue. The sides were deadlocked on three points each after just seven minutes, following a frantic start which saw Arthur McConville, Conor Laverty and Benny Coulter hit the target for Down, with Pearse O’Neill (two) and Colm O’Neill responding.

The scores were level for a fourth time after an Aidan Walsh point was cancelled out by an eye-catching effort from Mark Poland, who split the posts from a difficult angle. Cork’s ability to retain possession and move the ball with purpose saw them go two clear through Colm O’Neill, and they held onto that two point cushion when Donnacha O’Connor slipped in behind full back Brendan McArdle to punch over a point. But McArdle made up for the lapse by pushing upfield to shoot a neat score for the Mourne men.

Eoin Cadogan and Michael Shields stood firm at the back as the Ulster men countered again, and Down suffered a blow when full forward Laverty, who had contributed three points from play, was forced out of the game by injury. The hard-working Paul Kerrigan curled over a point under pressure to send the Rebels in with a 0-09 to 0-07 interval lead Conor Counihan’s side stepped up the intensity after the restart, and after Colm O’Neill and Kerrigan had added to their personal tallies, the pair combined for a 43rd minute goal.

It was Kerrigan who slipped the ball inside for O’Neill to gather at pace and send a low angled shot to the bottom corner of the net past Brendan McVeigh. Now five points adrift, Down went for goal, but Coulter was denied by a superb Ray Carey block, but the International Rules star did hoist a wonderful point soon afterwards to keep his side’s hopes alive. And the Mourne men were right back in it when substitute Jamie O’Sullivan scooped the ball off the ground to deny Kalum King a certain goal, conceding a penalty which Aidan Carr drilled home in the 54th minute.

But Cork hit back with a second goal, gifted from close range to Alan O’Connor after goalkeeper McVeigh had failed to hold a dropping ball. And they finished the job off with late scores from Colm O’Neill and Daniel Goulding.

Cork scorers: C O’Neill 1-06 (0-2f), A O’Connor 1-00, P Kerrigan, P O’Neill 0-03 each, D O’Connor, A Walsh, N O’Leary, D Goulding, B O’Driscoll 0-01 each.

Down scorers: A Carr 1-02 (1-00 pen, 0-01f), C Laverty, B Coulter 0-03 each, A McConville (f), P Turley, M Poland, B McArdle 0-01 each.

Cork: A Quirke, R Carey, M Shields, E Cotter, N O’Leary, E Cadogan, P Kissane, A O’Connor, P O’Neill, F Goold, P Kelly, P Kerrigan, C O’Neill, A Walsh, D O’Connor.

Subs: J O’Sullivan for Cotter, B O’Drioscoll for Walsh, D O’Sullivan for Cadogan, M Collins for Goold, D Goulding for O’Connor

Down: B McVeigh, D McCartan, B McArdle, D Turley, K McKernan, N McParland, C Garvey A Rogers, K King, P Turley, M Poland, A Carr, A McConville, C Laverty, B Coulter.

Subs: C Maginn for Laverty, A Brannigan for D Turley, D O’Hare for McConville

Referee: M Higgins (Sligo)