Wednesday 23 May 2018

Rebels rally to claim nine in-a-row

Munster Ladies MAFC Final: Cork 1-12 Kerry 2-8

John Tarrant, Mallow GAA Complex

Business as usual for Cork after collecting the Munster Ladies MFC for the ninth consecutive year after overcoming the brave challenge of arch rivals Kerry following an absorbing contest at Mallow on Bank Holiday Monday.

From a game of twists and turns, nine in-a-row seeking Cork staged a second half revival to turn a seven point deficit into a narrow victory thanks to Emma Cleary deciding to point the match-winner from an injury time penalty.

Credit both sides for their contribution to an enthralling contest, a hard honest game, underpinned by total commitment from two sides who delivered the work-rate to match their skill.

At the end of the extended hour, defeat was a devastating blow for Kerry as they appeared on course for victory when holding a two goal margin inside the closing quarter.

But digging in with stubborn intent and launching a recovery operation that altered the landscape to a nail-biting climax, Cleary, daughter of team manager John, drilled home to the net, the first of two penalties.

That lit the fuse, when the crunch came, the Cork girls moved with menace to force parity before winning a second penalty, Cleary electing to point, the score ultimately dividing the sides.

The outcome will be of poor consolation to the Kingdom on contributing hugely to a free-flowing and absorbing encounter only to agonisingly lose by the minimum of margins.

Backed by the breeze, Cork had laid out their intentions from the start availing of lead points to Rachel Murphy and Fiona Keating. Key to the reigning champions dominance was the work ethic of Clare O'Shea, Sarah Leahy, Ciara McCarthy, Cleary and Murphy.

A pair of Cleary pointed frees doubled Cork's advantage and only for timely interventions by superb Kerry 'keeper Sinéad Warren, the margin might well had been greater.

Warren's heroics lifted her colleagues, Kerry now pursued the champions with commendable vigour after Fiadhna Tangney opened their account on 18 minutes.

Indeed, Cork's advantage was reeled in and a great move allowed Kerry substitute Aoife O'Callaghan goal for stalemate 1-2 to 0-5 at the break. Again Warren thwarted Cork on the restart on denying Rebel full forward Katie Quirke.

For a spell, Kerry got a foothold on the proceedings through the effective play of Tara Breen, Ciara O'Brien and Anna O'Reilly as Hannah O'Donoughue and Tangney landed morale boosting points. And when the Cork defence coughed up possession, Eve Mullins placed Tangney for a goal.

Cork attempted a recovery, Cleary obliging from frees only for Kerry to respond for delightful points by the outstanding O'Donoughue. In fairness to Cork, they regrouped, at their best when faced with adversary, back in the game once Cleary coolly slotted home to the net from a penalty award.

Follow up points squared the contest before the winner surfaced in injury time, Cleary wisely deciding to take a point from a second penalty to separate two talented sides.

CORK: S Murphy (Bride Rovers); K Horgan (Knocknagree), C O'Shea (Beara), R Sheehan (Passage West); G Gould (Kinsale), S Leahy (Aghada), J Murphy (Kinsale); C McCarthy (St. Vals), E Mullins (Rockbán); L O'Mahony ( O'Donovan Rossa), E Cleary (Éire Óg) 1-9, 1-1p, 0-5f, R Murphy (Bantry Blues) 0-1; E Jack (Mourneabbey), K Quirke (Bride Rovers), F Keating (Courcey Rovers) 0-1 Subs: S O'Brien (Glanmire) for E Jack (38), A O'Mahony (Glanmire) 0-1 for E Mullins (31)

KERRY: S Warren (Rathmore), M Lehane (Milltown/Listry), T Breen (Beaufort), C O'Brien (Laune Rangers); N Ní Chonchúir (Corca Dhuibhne), K O'Connor (Castleisland Desmonds), A O'Reilly (Fossa); K Maher (Kilcummin), C Murphy (Miltown/Listry); S Lynch (Listowel Emmets), B Ryan (Rathmore), A Clifford (Fossa) 0-1, F Tangney (Beaufort) 1-2, 0-1f, E McGlynn (Fossa), H O'Donoughue (Beaufort) 0-5 Subs: A O'Callaghan (Rathmore) 1-0 for E McGlynn (24), L Walmsley (Castleisland Desmonds) for B Ryan (46), K Buckley (Rathmore) for M Lehane (49), M Lehane for K Maher (52 inj)

Referee: J Mullins (Limerick).