Colm O'Callaghan of Cork in action against Meath players Ronan Jones, right, and Cathal Hickey as Mathew Costello, far left, looks on during the Allianz Football League Division 2 match between Cork and Meath at Páirc Ui Chaoimh in Cork.
Colm O'Callaghan of Cork in action against Meath players Ronan Jones, right, and Cathal Hickey as Mathew Costello, far left, looks on during the Allianz Football League Division 2 match between Cork and Meath at Páirc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. 

Allianz FL D2: Second half goals help Meath defeat Cork

Allianz Football League Division 2

MEATH 3-14 CORK 0-19

By Stephen Barry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Colm O’Rourke’s young Meath side got off to a winning start in the Allianz Football League, a two-goal burst midway through the second half enough to take the scalp of Cork.

Cork scored 7-40 in three pre-season games and they didn’t struggle for points at Páirc Uí Chaoimh but they had no answer for Meath’s eye for goal.

They led by two at half-time having played into the wind but Jordan Morris and Cillian O’Sullivan’s goals, added to by 1-7 from Shane Walsh, overwhelmed an exposed Cork defence.

They were over-reliant on Steven Sherlock for scores, as he finished with 0-14 in defeat.

The first half was a Sherlock shooting showcase. Setting aside a weak effort on goal when off balance, he kicked a perfect eight from eight, five frees, a 45, and two from play, as Cork built an 0-11 to 1-6 lead.

It was some opening test for Meath’s full-back line, starting with two League debutants in James O’Hare and Michael Flood, before Adam O’Neill made it three when he replaced his brother Daniel at half-time.

The man who never played minor or U20 for the Royals went straight in on Sherlock. A baptism of fire but he won a turnover and possession with his first two involvements to settle in.

Meath struggled at times to retain their kick-out against the Cork press but when they did, they were able to attack at pace. Their seventh-minute goal came from such a situation, Donal Keogan securing possession, Daithí McGowan linking play, and Walsh beating his man on the inside before finishing with cool authority.

Sherlock levelled with his third point and Cork added the next three, from Mattie Taylor, Maurice Shanley, and Chris Óg Jones. Meath’s first point made it 0-6 to 1-1, Mathew Costello doing the scoring.

The impressive Taylor almost had a goal in the 18th minute but for the instinctive fingertip reactions of Harry Hogan to push the shot around the post. Sherlock nailed the 45.

Meath kicked four of the next five points, from Walsh (0-2), O’Sullivan, and Costello to level the game a second time.

Cork finished the half stronger, although they were indebted to Mícheál Aodh Martin for a double save to deny Meath a goal. After another Sherlock brace, Darragh Campion raced inside the cover but Martin stayed big before diving back towards his line to claw away Morris’s fisted follow-up effort.

Sherlock and Walsh traded scores to leave the half-time gap at two but Meath cancelled that out in no time on the resumption through Walsh (free) and Morris.

Cork kicked three in a row from Jones, Sherlock (free), and Seán Powter but Meath responded with a scoring burst that stunned the Rebels.

Their forwards suddenly found all sorts of space to exploit with fast passing and direct running, blasting 2-4 to Cork’s 0-1 between the 51st and 61st minutes.

A Jason Scully intercept on an Ian Maguire pass changed everything. His run held the covering defenders against the 3-on-2 overlap and his pass allowed Morris to palm to the roof of the net.

Walsh added three points, two from play and a mark, while substitute Jack O’Connor kicked a huge point.

A Sherlock free couldn’t break Meath momentum as Keogan burst upfield, Diarmuid Moriarty fed O’Sullivan, and the Moynalvey man split the defence and found the top corner. From three behind to six ahead: 3-12 to 0-15.

It was too sustained a punishment for Cork to recover from, O’Rourke’s young tyros closing it out with Cathal Hickey and Morris points against four from Sherlock (three frees).

Scorers for Cork: Steven Sherlock 0-14 (10f, 1 45); Chris Óg Jones 0-2; Maurice Shanley, Mattie Taylor, Seán Powter 0-1 each.

Scorers for Meath: Shane Walsh 1-7 (0-2f, 0-2m); Jordan Morris 1-2; Cillian O’Sullivan 1-1; Mathew Costello 0-2 (1f); Cathal Hickey, Jack O’Connor 0-1 each

CORK: Mícheál Aodh Martin; Kevin O’Donovan, Daniel O’Mahony, Maurice Shanley; Rory Maguire, Seán Meehan, Mattie Taylor; Colm O’Callaghan, Ian Maguire; Eoghan McSweeney, Seán Powter, Brian O’Driscoll; Chris Óg Jones, Brian Hurley (capt), Steven Sherlock. Subs: Tommy Walsh for O’Donovan (44), John O'Rourke for McSweeney (53), Luke Fahy for R Maguire (54), Cathail O'Mahony for Hurley (61), Ruairí Deane for Powter (66).

MEATH: Harry Hogan; Cathal Hickey, Michael Flood, James O’Hare; Eoin Harkin, Donal Keogan (capt), Daniel O’Neill; Ronan Jones, Daithí McGowan; Darragh Campion, Jason Scully, Cillian O’Sullivan; Jordan Morris, Matthew Costello, Shane Walsh. Subs: Shane Crosby for McGowan (12-14, blood), Adam O’Neill for D O’Neill (h-t), Harry O’Higgins for O’Hare (49), Jack O’Connor for Harkin (49), Diarmuid Moriarty for McGowan (53), Shane Crosby for O'Sullivan (66).

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)