Thursday 14 December 2017

Cork's dream of sixth title dashed by Tyrone

Tyrone 3-11
Cork 0-13

Jackie Cahill

TYRONE blew the race for the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies senior football championship wide open at Banagher yesterday as they claimed a famous quarter-final victory against All-Ireland champions Cork.

The Red Hands ran out 3-11 to 0-13 winners against the Leesiders, who had claimed the last five All-Ireland titles.

This was a truly seismic result at the Offaly venue as Cork's dreams of a sixth successive crown were dashed in sensational style at the finish.

The Rebelettes finished the match with just 13 players as defenders Brid Stack and Aisling Barrett received yellow cards and were sin-binned in the closing minutes.

With that numerical advantage, Tyrone bagged two late goals to clinch a memorable success as full-forward Sarah Connolly (57) and inspirational midfielder Sarah Donnelly (60) raised green flags for the Ulster outfit. Remarkably, Cork had led by 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time.

The sides had been level at 0-5 apiece with 15 minutes on the watch but Cork cut loose with a clinical run of scores to open up a healthy advantage at the midway point. Cork, however, were rocked in the first half when centre-forward Ciara O'Sullivan and experienced defender Geraldine O'Flynn were forced off through injury.

And the rot really set in after half-time as Cork managed just two points in the entire second half -- both from Valerie Mulcahy frees.

Tyrone set about eating into Cork's lead but didn't appear to be making much headway until Aisling O'Kane goaled with 13 minutes remaining. Mulcahy hit back with a Cork free, but points from Sarah Connolly and centre-forward Gemma Begley brought Tyrone level at 1-10 to 0-13 with five minutes left.

Then, Cork's discipline left them down as first Stack and then Barrett were yellow-carded for fouls on Sarah Donnelly and Joline Donnelly respectively. Connolly took advantage to goal from close range with three minutes left before Donnelly found the net in the final minute with an impressive finish past Elaine Harte.

Tyrone's reward for this stunning win is a semi-final meeting with championship surprise packets Kerry, while Dublin and Laois will meet in the other semi-final.

The Dublin-Laois clash is a repeat of the Leinster decider, which Dublin won, and the Sky Blues are now the only remaining provincial champions left in the All-Ireland series.

Before Tyrone sent shock waves through the ladies game, Laois had put paid to Ulster champions Monaghan in the first game of a Banagher double-header. Laois proved that momentum through the qualifiers counts for a lot as the O'Moore County secured a 0-12 to 0-9 victory against the beaten 2008 All-Ireland finalists.

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