Roscommon roll over Cork to open campaign on the front foot

Connacht side were missing club players involved in All-Ireland action and Conor Cox

Roscommon 1-13 Cork 0-10

Enda Smith’s first-half goal paved the way for Roscommon to earn their first league win since October 2020 after they overcame a poor Cork side at Dr Hyde Park.

Despite missing their Pádraig Pearses and St Faithleach’s contingent who were involved in All-Ireland club semi-final action on Saturday, the Rossies, who also had to line out without marquee forward Conor Cox due to injury, worked extremely hard in tough conditions to eke out a thoroughly deserved triumph.

Given the strength of the wind blowing towards the “Graveyard end” of the Hyde, Cork were still in contention at the break, despite trailing by seven points.

But they never made an impression after the interval, running down cul-de-sacs and lacking the composure and creativity to manufacture meaningful opportunities. Ten second-half wides summed up the poverty of their challenge as the Rossies comfortably kept them at bay.

Ironically, the Rebels started with intent. Points by David Buckley and lively wing back Matthew Taylor got them up and running, although Roscommon replied through Cian McKeon (free) and Enda Smith.

A free from Brian Hurley in the 11th minute edged Cork back in front, and they seemed to be in a good place, but they lost their way after that as Roscommon turned the screw.

Donie Smith brought the sides level from a free before Enda Smith's effort on goal squeezed through the grasp of Cork goalkeeper Micheál Martin and into the net after 14th minutes.

The floodgates opened after that as Roscommon, regularly overturning possession, went for the jugular with points from Niall Kilroy, Donie Smith (two) and Cian McKeon (free).

When Cork defender Tadhg Corkery was penned back and forced into overcarrying close to his own goal, the Roscommon players celebrated wildly as Donie Smith landed another free – a shining example of the Rossies' greater workrate all over the field.

By the time Donie Smith added another free, Roscommon had hit 1-7 without reply.

A hat-trick of Cork scores from Hurley (two) and John O’Rourke hinted at a Cork revival but McKeon had the final say of the half with an excellent point from play to leave the 2019 Connacht champions 1-10 to 0-6 ahead at half-time.

Cork hardly raised a gallop with the elements in their favour. They did grab scores through Mark Cronin and a long-range free from Hurley but they wouldn't score again for another 20 minutes, lacking the creative spark to regain a foothold in the match.

A couple of Donie Smith frees kept the scoreboard ticking over from a Roscommon perspective before a superb Enda Smith effort on the run was sandwiched between a free and a 45 from Hurley.

Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham praised his side's willingness to graft and work hard afterwards as they head for Navan and a joust with Meath next weekend.

For Cork, this was another sobering reminder of just how far they’ve fallen down the pecking order.

ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; F Lennon, B Stack, E McCormack; D Ruane, C Hussey, R Hughes; U Harney, E Nolan; N Kilroy (0-1), E Smith (1-2), D McGann; C McKeon (0-3, two frees), D Smith (0-7, five frees, one 45), C Heneghan.

Subs: B O'Carroll for Heneghan (h-t), C Lawless for Ruane (50 mins), S Cunnane for McGann (57), C Sugrue for Harney (65), C Walsh for Lennon (67).

CORK: M Martin; S Powter, K Flahive, T Corkery; C Kiely, J Cooper, M Taylor (0-1); J Grimes, R Maguire; D Buckley (0-1), J O'Rourke (0-1), C O'Callaghan; M Cronin (0-1), B Hurley (0-6, four frees, one 45), D Dineen.

Subs: E McSweeney for Grimes (25 mins), K O'Donovan for Cooper (h-t), C Óg Jones for D Buckley (48), P King for O'Rourke (65), M Buckley for Cronin (67).

Referee: S Mulhare (Laois).

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