Updated Jun 12th 2021, 8:33 PM
TWO CORK GOALS in the opening 10 minutes of the second half proved crucial as Ronan McCarthy’s side saw off Westmeath and avoided relegation to Division 3 of the Allianz National Football League, winning 3-22 to 0-25.
The first three-pointer was registered by Mark Collins, edging the home team in front 1-14 to 0-15 in the Division 2 South relegation play-off at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Then after Westmeath responded impressively with a string of points to go ahead, Cork captain Ian Maguire made an inspirational run from deep before laying off for Luke Connolly to palm to the net.
Brian Hurley, who came off the bench before half-time for the injured Cathail O’Mahony, notched three points in the third quarter and that helped Cork lead 2-17 to 0-19 by the second-half water break.
Westmeath had enjoyed the best of the opening quarter as they went ahead 0-10 to 0-6 by the first water break. John Heslin, Ronan O’Toole and Lorcan Dolan all found their range as Cork struggled to cope with the attacking play of Jack Cooney’s side.
John Heslin in action against Cork’s Sean White and Sean Meehan.
Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO
Cork’s fortunes did improve in the second quarter and they drew level at 0-11 apiece at one juncture. Luke Connolly kicked 0-4 in the opening period while O’Mahony and newcomer Dan Dineen also showed up well in the full-forward line.
But Cork lost O’Mahony to injury and Westmeath, with Heslin scoring 0-6 overall in the half, closed that spell out strongly to go ahead 0-14 to 0-12 at the break. They came close to hitting the net as well but Sam Duncan’s shot struck the butt of the upright.
However Cork took control following the break, and a third goal arrived from Hurley in the 62nd minute, the Castlehaven man taking full advantage following a lovely pass from Kevin O’Donovan. He came close to hitting the net again but his late shot hit the bar..
Heslin finished with 0-12 for Westmeath but the concession of those goals proved costly for the Leinster outfit as they finished six points in arrears.
Meanwhile, Down will also be playing Division 2 football next year after beating Laois in their relegation play-off. Paddy Tally’s side ran out seven-point winners at Páirc Esler, the home side recording a 2-19 to 2-12 win.
The hosts started brightly, taking an early three-point lead before Laois registered their first score of the evening via a Donal Kingston free with almost 10 minutes played.
The visitors then seemed to settle into the game, striking for the opening goal on 13 minutes as Evan O’Carroll applied the finishing touch to a well-worked move.
Goalkeeper Niall Corbet and Kieran Lillis added further points, with Laois two points up come the first-half water break on 19 minutes.
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The two sides continued to trade scores for the remainder of the half, with Laois holding a one-point advantage at half-time, leading 1-6 to 0-8, before an impressive third quarter saw Down take control of the contest.
The first score of the second half saw Barry O’Hagan register Down’s first goal, flicking Ryan McEvoy’s high ball to the net.
Kingston had a chance to respond from the penalty spot almost immediately for Laois, but saw his effort sail over the bar.
Down soon added a second goal, Caolan Mooney’s fisted effort dropping short but finding the net via a deflection off Laois goalkeeper Corbet.
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By the time the second-half water break arrived on 53 minutes, Down had moved into a five-point lead.
Laois managed to pull it back to a two-point game as the match entered the final 10 minutes, but a quick succession of points from O’Hagan and Corey Quinn helped Down pull clear in the closing stages.
Laois’ Kingston found the net in the second minute of added time, but it was too little, too late for the visitors, who will now be lining out in Division 3 next year.
Scorers for Cork: Luke Connolly (0-4f) , Brian Hurley (0-1f) 1-4 each, Mark Collins 1-1, Dan Dineen (0-1 mark), Cathail O’Mahony 0-3 each, Paul Walsh 0-2, John O’Rourke, Ruairi Deane, Sean White, Brian Hartnett, Colm O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Westmeath: John Heslin 0-12 (0-8f, 0-1 mark), Ronan O’Toole, Ray Connellan, Ger Egan, Lorcan Dolan 0-3 each, Sam McCartan 0-1.
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