Cork hurlers and footballers finally up and running

Rebel squads register important first league victories of the season as Derry footballers surge clear at the top of Division One

Cork’s league slumber is finally over. And having waited until the end of February for any sort of National League victory, on Sunday two arrived at once.

The Cork footballers left it late to pick up a Division Two win over Fermanagh but their 1-14 to 0-16 smash and grab job in Ederney, courtesy of Maurice Shanley’s 72nd minute goal, might have come just in time to salvage their season.

While back down on Leeside the Cork hurlers kept their hopes of finishing in the top half of the Division 1A table alive with a 1-21 to 1-19 victory over Waterford – though only after surviving a late rally with the visitors scoring 10 of the last 12 points.

John Cleary’s footballers had lost their opening three games and at half-time against Fermanagh they trailed by two points – the prospect of both relegation and the Tailteann Cup was weighing heavily on the Rebels.


“They took it upon themselves in the second half, in one respect when their season was on the line, to up the gears, go at it and get the victory,” said Cleary afterwards.

Shanley’s injury-time winner sees Cork now level with Louth in the division on two points, with Fermanagh just above them on three. However, Kildare have been cut adrift at the basement of the Division Two table and Glenn Ryan’s side are the only team in the group with zero points after four games.

They suffered their fourth successive loss of the campaign in Navan on Sunday when Meath ran out three-point winners, 0-12 to 0-9.

“Well, it’s fairly obvious that confidence isn’t where it would be if you were winning games,” said Ryan.

“And it’s winning that generates the confidence. But we worked very hard to create chances, the lack of confidence didn’t affect the work rate, and that’s the important thing.

“I see a pathway to improvement, and wherever that gets us, we’ll just take it game by game. Next week will be another difficult test, but we’re keeping it moving forward, trying to get the best out of the lads.”

In Division One, Derry continued their unbeaten start to life under Mickey Harte – the Oak Leaf men beating Galway 3-10 to 1-11 in Salthill. With eight points after four games, Derry are already four points clear of their nearest challengers in the top flight.

But it was another worrying weekend for Monaghan, who have been in freefall ever since an opening night win over Dublin. The Farney County’s latest heavy defeat was handed out by Roscommon, with Davy Burke’s Rossies chalking up a 1-16 to 0-7 victory.

Monaghan are very much in danger of losing their coveted Division One status and face a pivotal relegation clash against Galway next time out.

In the Allianz Hurling League, Wexford played out a third draw on the bounce – this time sharing the spoils against Clare. But Cork’s win has really opened up the 1A table, though they will need to maintain that winning momentum against Offaly next time out.

“We probably took our foot off the pedal,” said Pat Ryan. “In fairness Waterford came back at us, they got their running game going, look we got over the line and it’s two points, so we move on now to the next day.”

The Rebels, finally up and running on both fronts.

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Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times