Minor girls close gap on Cork but not by enough to take title

Ladies Munster Minor 'A' Championship Final: Kerry 1-10 Cork 0-19

Dan Kearney

Cork retained their Munster Minor A title with a six-point victory over a courageous Kerry outfit at a resplendent Lewis Road last Monday. The Rebels dished out a 19-point hiding to Kerry in the round robin stages of the competition, but it was clear from the start that the kingdom had learnt their lessons from that defeat. In fact, they will look back on Monday's game as one that they might have won, although it must be said that Cork were the better side overall. The essential difference was that Cork managed to take their chances when they presented themselves, whilst Kerry found it that bit more difficult to find scores.

Kerry started the game well and Siofra O'Shea pointed a free after 38 seconds following a foul on Danielle O'Leary. Cork were soon level with a pointed free from Katie Quirke. The full forward scored 10 points in total for her side, and with 9 coming from placed balls, she showed unerring accuracy throughout the contest.

Kerry lost corner back Ava Doherty to the sin bin after three minutes, and Cork were ruthless in punishing their numerical superiority. The Rebels kicked five unanswered points with Quirke contributing four from frees, and the impressive Ellie Jack punching over from play. Kerry responded well with a Siofra O'Shea score, but once again Cork remained in charge with Jack slotting over two on the bounce. Cork had now raced into an 8-2 lead with just 12 minutes gone, and Kerry were struggling badly to gain any sort of foothold on the game.

With Doherty restored to the action, Kerry finally began to get their hands on the ball. A striking move in the 13th minute involving Ella Teahan and Niamh Ní Chonchuir saw Siofra O'Shea's shot for goal go agonisingly wide. Two minutes later O'Shea had a free for Kerry following a foul on Mary Collins, and her kick for a point somehow evaded Cork netminder Sarah Murphy, and finished up in the back of the net. Cork responded well with 2 points from Fiona Keating to push them 5 ahead once more with 10 minutes left in the half. From here on Kerry dominated. Kayla O'Connor and Julie O'Sullivan provided leadership at the back and scores soon followed from Siofra O'Shea (free), Mary Collins and Mary O'Connell to leave Kerry just two points behind, 1-5 to 0-10 at the half time break.

The deficit was cut to one when Siofra O'Shea pointed an early free in the second half, but Cork struck back with two Quirke points from placed balls. Kerry had a genuine shout for a penalty soon afterwards when it appeared that Siofra O'Shea was upended in the square, but the referee waved play on. O'Shea pointed a free straight after the kick out to bring Kerry to within two points of their opponents, and three minutes later Ella Teahan slotted over.

Cork then lost Eve Mullins to the sin bin, and the large crowd present felt that Kerry, with an extra player, could drive on for victory. Strangely though, it was Cork who grasped the initiative, and driven on by their excellent captain Abbie O'Mahony and centre half back Isobel Sheehan, they managed to put over four points without reply. Kerry did score a goal during this period when Siofra O'Shea got a hand to a Clodagh Evans high ball, but referee Kevin O'Brien disallowed the effort much to the disgust of the Kerry faithful. If the goal was allowed it may have propelled Kerry right back into the game, but it wasn't to be.

The remainder of the game seemed to peter out to an inevitable conclusion, and despite points from the hard working Danielle O'Leary and Anna Clifford, Cork popped over three of their own, with the imperious Quirke scoring two and O'Mahony adding another to seal a deserved victory.

Kerry: Ciara Butler, Julie O'Sullivan, Mairead Lehane, Ava Doherty, Rachel Evans, Kayla O'Connor, Aoife Dillane, Mary O'Connell(0-1), Maud Kelly, Anna Clifford (0-1), Niamh Ní Chonchuir, Ella Teahan (0-1), Mary Collins (0-1), Siofra O'Shea (1-5, 0-5f), Danielle O'Leary (0-1). Subs: Mairead Bennett for R Evans (37), Clodagh Evans for M Collins (42), Katie Buckley for M Kelly (55), Céití Ní Luing for D O'Leary (58), Caoimhe Evans for A Doherty (60).

Cork: Sarah Murphy, Roisin Ní Chorcora, Ellen Baker, Rachel Sheehan (0-1), Erika O'Shea, Isobel Sheehan, Claudia Keane, Eve Mullins, Abbie O'Mahony (0-1), Faye Ahern, Jennifer Murphy, Cliona Dooley, Ellie Jack (0-5), Katie Quirke (0-10, 9f), Fiona Keating (0-2). Subs: Aoife Twomey for F Ahern (h/t), Sally McCarthy for E O'Shea (60).

Referee: Kevin O'Brien (Limerick)