Mourne men flattened by Rebel sucker-punch
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
Down 1-17 Cork 3-12.
DOWN lost their lead and the match with what was the last kick of the game.
Cork were trailing their hosts by two points deep into injury when Aidan Walsh dispossessed Paul McComiskey 40 metres from goal. The midfielder offloaded to Fintan Goold who, in turn, fed Ciaran Sheehan who blasted past Michael Cunningham into the Down goal to break Mourne hearts.
It was a particularly cruel way for Down to lose a game they had largely dominated. Conceding three soft goals though allowed Cork to snatch a victory that they did not really deserve.
Yet, despite the result, Down played the most enterprising football they have so far this year. Defensively resolute and potent in attack, Down appeared to right the wrongs of previous matches when barren spells after half-time had led to a deficit too large to close.
Instead, individual mistakes were to blame for what was an otherwise excellent performance. Down began brightly with Paul McComiskey pointing from an acute angle. Donal O'Hare then added the first of his nine points, five of which came from play.
Aidan Walsh kept Cork in it with a point from distance but two more scores from O'Hare put Down into a commanding position.
Paul Kerrigan and Walsh responded for Cork but another O'Hare score, set up by Benny Coulter put Down into a two-point lead.
On 17 minutes though Down conceded a goal. Like the other two goals they conceded on the day, it was entirely avoidable. A long ball in towards the square should have been routinely cleared but instead Cork retrieved the ball and Paul Kerrigan was able to tee up Thomas Clancy who palmed home from close range.
Down though remained unperturbed by the set-back and two points in quick succession from Mark Poland soon put Down back in front. Two further points from the lively O'Hare stretched Down's lead. Donncha O'Connor converted a free for Cork but Down were dominant and on 34 minutes they moved into a commanding lead.
Conor Laverty fired a pass across the square which Connaire Harrison was able to palm down for himself and he then blasted past Ken O'Halloran in the Cork goal. It meant that Down were leading by five points but as injury time was drawing to a close Down grew lax in defence and allowed a ball to needlessly go out for a side-line ball to Cork. The long ball in was fumbled by Michael Cunningham and unluckily rebounded directly off Benny McArdle into the Down net.
It was a disappointing end to a scintillating half for Down fans. The second half began with Cork finding their scoring range as O'Connor pointed immediately after the re-start. Colm O'Neill then pointed twice in quick succession from the same acute angle.
It began to look like a familiar story - that of a good half being followed by a dour Down performance in the second period. That proved not to be the case though as Ryan Mallon began the fight-back for the home team.
Aidan Walsh, though, almost single-handedly kept Cork in contention and his converted 45 on 43 minutes put Cork two points in front and when O'Connor converted a free on 45 minutes it didn't look good for Down.
But Harrison pointed as did Kevin McKernan and when O'Hare scored three points in a row Down deservedly led by three points.
Walsh reduced the arrears on a couple of occasions but a long range effort by Aidan Carr and a fantastic individual point from Conor Laverty on 69 minutes gave Down a two-point cushion as the game headed for injury time.
As Down tried to run out the clock by playing possession football, Walsh rescued possession for Cork and with the last kick of the game Cork secured an unlikely victory.
DOWN: Michael Cunningham, Daniel McCartan, Benny McArdle (OG), Ryan Boyle, Ryan Mallon (0-1), Aidan Carr (0-1), Paul McComiskey (0-1), Kalum King, Kevin McKernan (0-1), Conor Laverty (0-1), Mark Poland (0-2), Keith Quinn; Donal O'Hare (0-9, 4f), Connaire Harrison (1-1), Benny Coulter (Subs) Jerome Johnston for Keith Quinn (47 mins), Eoin McCartan for Kalum King (55) and Shay McArdle for Donal O'Hare (64).
CORK: Ken O'Halloran, Michael Shields, Eoin O'Mahony, Eoin Cadogan, Thomas Clancy (1-0), Noel O'Leary, Jamie O'Sullivan, Graham Canty, Aidan Walsh (0-5, 1f), Fintan Goold, Ciaran Sheehan (1-1), Paul Kerrigan (0-1), Mark Collins, Colm O'Neill (0-2, 2f), Donncha O'Connor (0-3, 3f) (Subs) Paudie Kissane for Eoin O'Mahony (half-time) Barry O'Drsicoll for Donncha O'Connor (59) and Andrew O'Sullivan for Paul Kerrigan (63).
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