Buckley seals the deal for 'lucky' Cork
Cork 0-14 Galway1-10
Eamonn Ryan was making his way off the O’Moore Park pitch on Saturday evening when a jubilant Cork supporter stopped to tell him that his team doesn’t know how to lose.
It was difficult to argue as the Rebelettes collected their ninth league crown in 11 seasons, grinding out a one-point victory over Galway in Portlaoise.
In that time, the Leesiders have also been crowned All-Ireland champions nine times.
It’s a phenomenal record but Galway have shown enough this year to suggest that the can compete for the Brendan Martin Cup this summer.
In three league games against Cork in 2015, they drew one and lost the other two by just a point. But when it’s Cork, even a single point is a yawning chasm.
The winners did have the rub of the green in this replay but there’s an old saying that you make your own luck.
And with player of the match Bríd Stack and superb midfielder Rena Buckley driving Ryan’s charges forward, defeat, once again, was simply not an option.
It was Buckley who kicked the winning point with two minutes remaining and when Cork next gained possession, they played keep-ball to claim three-in-a-row.
Buckley and midfield partner Briege Corkery were released from camogie duty to line out with the footballers as an unfortunate fixture clash surfaced.
The Cork camogie team stuttered past Tipperary in the Munster final with just a point to spare, before further silverware was secured by the footballers team later in the evening.
“Look, if I start now, I’ll just say too much,” Ryan said, when asked about the fixtures crux. “I wouldn’t go into it at the moment.”
Instead, Ryan was happy to heap further praise on his remarkable bunch of players, who came from a point down late on to close out another national final.
Annette Clarke’s spectacular over-the-shoulder point with eight minutes left on the clock handed Galway a slender lead, before the Tribesmen suffered a massive double-whammy.
Captain Geraldine Conneally was sin-binned for the remaining minutes and Valerie Mulcahy ensured parity for the fourth time in the second half from the resultant free.
With the odds stacked in their favour, Cork pushed on and Buckley fired over the decisive lead point.
Devastated Galway manager Kevin Reidy refused to criticise referee Maggie Farrelly, even though it seemed that Louise Ward had claims for a penalty before half-time.
After Edel Concannon’s attempted point bounced back into play off an upright, Louise Ward beat Cork goalkeeper Martina O’Brien to the loose ball.
Hannon was left in a heap as last year’s All-Ireland winning captain Corkery looped around on the cover to gather possession and clear her lines.
Salt was rubbed in Galway wounds at the other end from Cork’s next attack as Corkery’s point established a 0-10 to 1-5 interval lead. Small margins. . .
But on the balance of play, Cork did deserve that half-time advantage, having recovered from the concession of Patricia Gleeson’s superb 26th-minute goal.
Cork also registered 14 wides, but worked hard to shut down Galway’s most potent forward from the drawn match.
Six of Tracey Leonard’s eight points had come from play a week previously but Cork deployed former Footballer of the Year Geraldine O’Flynn on the edge of the square in a marking role, with Roisín O’Sullivan screening her full-back and helping to cut off the supply.
Reidy reflected: “I genuinely didn’t see why the sin-bin was given because I was focusing on our forwards at the time. The penalty? I’m not too sure, I wouldn’t have argued a whole lot about that. I didn’t see what happened to Ger but people said it was harsh.
“There were a couple of tackles out there today but look, reffing is a hard game as well.”
Ryan admitted: “We were a bit lucky in the end but we’ll take it. We have a very mixed team now, a few of the old ones and trying to integrate new ones into the system.
“It will take a bit of time but in fairness, they’re all giving their best and that’s all you can hope for.”
If this is transition, the omens appear bleak for the other summer contenders, although a repeat championship meeting between these two counties would be something to savour as they served up two cracking League finals.
Let’s hope it comes to pass.
Scorers – Cork: V Mulcahy 0-7 (5fs), A Hutchings 0-3, R Buckley 0-2, B Corkery, E Scally 0-1 each. Galway: P Gleeson 1-0, T Leonard (1f), A Clarke (1f) 0-3 each, B Hannon, L Ward, C Concannon, M Hoey 0-1 each.
CORK – M O’Brien; M Ambrose, G O’Flynn, R Phelan; V Foley, R O’Sullivan, B Stack; R Buckley, B Corkery; C O’Sullivan, A Hutchings, A Walsh; D O’Sullivan, V Mulcahy, O Finn. Subs: E Scally for Finn (h.t.), R Ní Bhuachalla for D O’Sullivan (44), A Barrett for Ambrose (47), O Farmer for Walsh (51).
GALWAY – J Connolly; Á Seoighe, E Flaherty, S Gormally; N Ward, N Connolly, S Burke; L Ward, P Gleeson; B Hannon, A Clarke, O Divilly; G Conneally, T Leonard, E Concannon. Subs: M Hoey for N Connolly (21), L Joyce for Concannon (49), C Cormican for Divilly (58), R Leonard for Hannon (60).
Ref – M Farrelly (Cavan).