Monday 19 February 2018

Cork have firepower to bring end to Royals' run

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland intermediate final: Cork v Meath (2.0)

Jane Dolan has long been acknowledged as one of the most dangerous forwards in the land. Photo: Sportsfile
Jane Dolan has long been acknowledged as one of the most dangerous forwards in the land. Photo: Sportsfile

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Meath are appearing in their first intermediate final, while Cork are returning to the scene of the crime after being edged out by a point by Kilkenny in last year's decider.

It has taken the Royals a little while to establish themselves in the second tier after enjoying Croke Park glory when annexing the premier junior crown in 2012. They showed that they had found their feet when winning the national league Division 2 title last season, however, and spent the spring this term in the rarefied atmosphere of Division 1.

There were some tough outings as they failed to collect anything in terms of points but the experience of operating at a quicker level and higher intensity than anything they would have been accustomed to was invaluable.

John Davis's crew finished the campaign positively, losing by just two points to Offaly, who missed out on making the knockout stages of the senior championship on score difference by one point. Meath carried that form right through the championship. Although drawing to Down, they had earlier edged out Cork in a cracker by 3-9 to 0-17 in Trim, assuring themselves of top seeding in the semi-finals.

There the Royals met old rivals Kildare. Buoyed by a quick goal from Kristina Troy and a strong final quarter that yielded seven successive points after falling two points behind, they were able to concede a late goal and still prevail by two.

Jane Dolan has long been acknowledged as one of the most dangerous forwards in the land, but she has strong support in the likes of Troy, Megan Thynne, Aoife Minogue and Cheyenne O'Brien.

Cork will be concerned by the three goals they conceded when the sides met on July 8, but apart from that, they have enjoyed a flawless season. The league ended with a 14-point defeat of Derry and they repeated that win over a side that had been campaigning in the top tier for the previous four years in the championship semi-final.

The margin this time around was 10 points. Linda Collins, who scored 1-5 from play in last year's All-Ireland and played along with Jennifer Barry in this year's national league Division 1 decider, did the damage with two goals. Finola Neville, Lauren Callanan and Amy Lee are just some of the others with senior experience. Keeva McCarthy and Maeve McCarthy are other threatening attackers capable of scuppering Meath's dreams.

Verdict: Cork

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