Louth inflict back-to-back league losses on Cork
For the second year in a row, Cork have left Ardee’s DEFY Pairc Mhuire empty handed following another big National Football League win for hosts Louth.
Mickey Harte was in charge of Louth when they beat Cork in last year’s Division 2 campaign and new manager Ger Brennan celebrated his first league win this time.
Cork will kick themselves because they led by a point with 56 minutes on the clock but didn’t score again as Louth reeled off points from Craig Lennon, Ryan Burns and captain Sam Mulroy to win it with two to spare.
There was drama at the death as Cork, chasing a goal to rescue a result, were twice denied by Niall McDonnell saves from Eoghan McSweeney and Darragh Cashman.
It’s back to back defeats for Cork following their Round 1 reversal against Donegal though they will at least have home advantage for the February 17 clash with Cavan.
As for Louth, their first league win of the campaign will come as a timely boost ahead of their local derby date with Meath in Navan in Round 3.
Mulroy finished with five points for Louth while Ciaran Downey and Ciaran Keenan scored the first-half goals in what will go down as a crucial against the head win.
John Cleary initially named the same Cork team that started against Donegal though Mark Cronin and Daniel O’Mahony were late additions for David Buckley and Rory Maguire.
O’Mahony replaced the number six but dropped to full-back to mark Louth danger man Mulroy.
That was a great battle that Wee County captain Mulroy edged in the first-half, scoring three points from frees and winning one of those frees himself following an Ian Maguire foul.
Mulroy also got out in front of O’Mahony in a straight head to head later in the half that led to a goal chance for Burns.
Ruairi Deane, tracking back for Cork, got in with the crucial block to deny Burns on that occasion.
But Louth did get in for two goals in the half that left them with a 2-4 to 0-9 lead at the break. Downey’s first in the 22nd minute came against the run of play because Cork had just opened up a 0-7 to 0-4 lead following Hurley’s third point of the game.
The Castlehaven man wasn’t long back on the pitch following a sixth minute black card for a frustrated drag down when a Cork goal chance came to nought.
From the Louth kick-out after that 22nd minute Hurley point, goalkeeper Niall McDonnell arrowed his delivery into the breeze and began a move that cut through the centre of Cork’s defence, ending with Paul Mathews laying off to Downey to blast home.
Two minutes later, the Cork defence was cut open again by Louth’s hard running down the right, Conor Early this time getting free and playing the ball across for Keenan to palm in from close range.
Cork couldn’t say they weren’t warned because Louth had a 10th minute goal by Mathews ruled out for a square ball offence after ripping Cork asunder with a slick passing move down the left involving Burns, Donal McKenny and Keenan.
Patrick Doyle had an interesting opening half in goals for Cork. He went short with rapid fire kick-outs that were largely uncontested, played as an auxiliary defender – something Louth have opted against despite doing so under Harte – and drilled a point from a long-range free.
At the other end, Cork created several goal chances, the best of which was Maurice Shanley’s 27th minute rocket that slammed off the post.
The third quarter was a tough watch. Cork dominated possession but, battling the wind and 14 men behind the ball at times, had to be patient.
Deane won a free at one stage after three or four minutes of Cork possession only for Hurley to scuff his effort short.
Hurley and McSweeney points in the 48th and 49th minutes for Cork finally added some intrigue and Louth responded with a goal chance and a Downey shot that was blocked by Doyle. From the 45, Mulroy drilled his fourth point and they were level again for the fifth time, 2-6 to 0-12.
Jones put Cork ahead briefly but they didn’t score again as Louth finished strongly with those three points in a row to win it.
S Mulroy (0-5, 5 frees); C Keenan, C Downey (1-0 each); C Lennon (0-2); P Mathews, R Burns (0-1 each).
B Hurley (0-4, 3 frees); E McSweeney, C Og Jones (0-2 each); T Walsh, I Maguire, C O’Callaghan, P Doyle (1 45), M Cronin (1 free) (0-1 each).
N McDonnell; D Campbell, P Lynch, D McKenny; C Murphy, A Williams, C Lennon; C Early, T Durnin; P Mathews, C Keenan, C Grimes; C Downey, S Mulroy, R Burns.
C McCaul for Mathews (50); L Grey for Murphy and C McKeever for Campbell (58); D McKeown for Burns (61); W Campbell for Keenan (65).
P Doyle; M Shanley, D O’Mahony, T Walsh; L Fahy, S Meehan, M Taylor; I Maguire, C O’Callaghan; E McSweeney, R Deane, B O’Driscoll; C Og Jones, B Hurley, M Cronin.
D Cashman for Fahy (h/t); S Sherlock for Hurley and R Maguire for Meehan (56); D Buckley for Deane (58); B Murphy for Jones (69).
M McNally (Monaghan).