AFL: Cork relegated

by Kieran O'Daly , 03 April 2016

Dublin became the first side in more than 20 years to win all seven of their round-robin games in the top tier, while Monaghan came from behind to beat Donegal and avoid the drop and condemn Cork to the drop after they lost to Kerry.

There was plenty to play for in the top tier of the Allianz Football League with three semi-final berths and the last relegation spot still to be filled going into the final day.

Dublin completed a clean sweep but had to resist a spirited Roscommon fightback before finally prevailing 1-13 to 1-12 at Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.

The game was moved from Dr Hyde Park following a pitch inspection earlier in the day, but that didn't seem to deter the Rossies as they posted the first two scores of the day.

But Dublin quickly settled into their stride and registered nine points without reply, with Dean Rock posting 0-06, before a late Roscommon score made it 0-09 to 0-03 at the break.

The Connaught side fought back bravely in the second half, but a Rock goal looked to have sealed victory for the visitors.

Senan Kilbride found the net to leave just three points between the teams, but Dublin held on for victory.

Kerry reached the semi-finals for the first time under Eamon Fitzmaurice but Cork will be plying their trade in Division 2 next season after the Kingdom came out on top by 0-20 to 1-12 in an entertaining encounter at Austin Stack Park in Tralee.

The sides shared the opening four points before the home side upped the tempo with a run of eight unanswered scores, including three from Colm Cooper, before a Colm O'Neill free on 23 minutes stopped the rot to leave it 0-10 to 0-03.

The Rebels reduced the arrears to to six at 0-11 to 0-05 as half time loomed but were awarded a penalty in stoppage time which O'Neill gratefully converted the spot-kick to leave just three between the sides at the break.

A contentious O'Neill free from close range saw the scores tied up at 0-14 to 1-11 with ten minutes remaining before Marc O'Se finished well to edge the Kingdom back in front.

Cooper added a free shortly afterwards to leave two points between the sides with five minutes remaining.

Cork were down to 14 men when Michael Shield was shown a red card for an over-exuberant tackle two minutes from time as Kerry stretched away with a flurry of late scores to secure a place in the semi-finals with a deserved 0-20 to 1-12 victory, while the Rebels will be left to lick their wounds in the second tier.

Down's short tenure in the t op flight came to an end after just a single season as they went down 1-19 to 1-16 to Mayo at MacHale Park.

The Mourne men were already assured of their fate before the throw-in but at least showed a measure of resilience against Stephen Rochford's side.

A Cillian O'Connor penalty helped the Connaught champions to a 1-09 to 0-10 half-time lead.

It was an advantage they never relinquished and, even though Donal O'Hare found the net in stoppage time for Down to leave just a point between the sides, late scores from Andy Moran and Evan Regan sealed victory for the home side.

In the other Division 1 game, an injury time Colin Walshe point saved Monaghan from the drop as they came from behind to beat Donegal 1-10 to 1-09 at Castleblayney.

The Farney men failed to register a score in the opening quarter, while the visitors did likewise in the closing one. Despite four defeats on the trot, however, Donegal still managed to qualify for the semi-finals and will face Dublin at Croke Park next weekend, while Kerry will play Roscommon.

Down and Cork are relegated, with Tyrone and Antrim replacing them in the top flight.

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