CORK 4-5 DOWN 2-4 CORK got some consolation for their senior defeat by winning their seventh All-Ireland junior camogie title in an excellent curtain-raiser in Croke Park yesterday.
Elizabeth Bugler scored two of their four goals, Valerie O'Keeffe's free-taking was excellent but their defence, which held Down scoreless for the entire second half, earned just as many plaudits.
It always looked like a goal-fest from early on, especially as both sides' left corner-backs were replaced by half-time because of the brilliance of Eimear O'Farrell (Cork) and Fionnuala Carr. Down goalkeeper Teresa McGowan pulled off a great save in the third minute only to be beaten when Marian Jagoe goaled with the rebound.
Cathy Mulholland goaled for Down after seven minutes and Mairin McAleenan added a second within minutes.
But when their 'keeper McGowan changed her mind about advancing early to clear a ball at the other end she was caught in no-man's land and Miriam Deasy put the excellent Farrell through.
The sides were still level in the 25th minute when, after a huge defensive scramble in the Down goalmouth, Sarah Donovan handpassed to Bugler for Cork's third goal and a two-point (3-3 to 2-4) half-time lead.
In the second half the Munster women shut up shop defensively, with Elaine O'Riordan and centre-back Amanda O'Regan especially outstanding.
Down's full-back line was so rattled by the likes of Miriam Deacy and Farrell that they dropped many of their best forwards back to cover which left them with few options upfront and O'Regan, especially, was allowed operate as an unmarked sweeper.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Eimear O'Farrell (Cork).
SCORERS - Cork: E Bugler 2-0, V O'Keeffe 0-5 (2fs, 3'45), E O'Farrell and M Jagoe 1-0 each. Down: M McAleenan 1-1, C Mulholland 1-0, C McGourty 0-2 (1f), K Gribben 0-1.
CORK - E Clifford; G Kearney, E O'Riordan, N Goulding; J Browne, A O'Regan, M Holland; V O'Sullivan, V O'Keeffe (Capt); M O'Connell, S O'Donovan, E Bugler; E O'Farrell, M Deasy, M Jagoe. Subs: M Hegarty for Goulding (26 mins), J Duffy for Bugler (52), G Collins for O'Donovan (64).
DOWN - T McGowan; C McGovern, M Maginn, A Morgan; D Kelland, P Green, K Murray; J Braniff (Capt), L McCrickard; F Duff, M McAleenan, C McGourty; F Carr, C Mulholland, K Gribben. Subs: O Maginn for Morgan (30 mins), B Gallagher for Duff (49), M McPolin for Gribben (62), A Fearon for Mulholland (64).
REF - E Lawlor (Westmeath).