All Ireland champions Dublin survive late Cork fightback to secure tight win
Dublin 3-9 Cork 1-14
REIGNING TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football champions Dublin edged past Lidl Ladies National Football League holders Cork by just a single point at Croke Park this evening.
Both entering the fixture with two wins from two league outings under their belt, the historic ‘Battle of the Champions' was destined to be a good one with the Sky Blues recording their first-ever win over the six in-a-row chasing Rebels at GAA HQ.
It was a nervy finish for Mick Bohan's charges as Cork staged a late fightback, but they showed true ruthlessness at the right times to get over the line and finally put the heartbreak of 2014, 2015 and 2016 All-Ireland final losses to bed.
With 40 minutes played, the Sky Blues were leading by eight points and cruising but failed to capitalise on that while Cork staged their comeback.
Two earlier goals from Olwen Carey and another from Carla Rowe were enough to see them home though, on a night where 2017 Player's Player of the Year Noelle Healy starred.
Orla Finn meanwhile, chipped in with seven points for Cork.
Ephie Fitzgerald's charges started the brighter of the two sides, an Eimear Scally penalty powering the Rebels into the lead after just two minutes.
That was just what Dublin needed as Healy stepped up at the other end to spark her side to life.
As both teams settled into proceedings, the Sky Blues' running game came more and more to the fore as Sinéad Aherne found her rhythm, cancelling out Orla Finn and Doireann O'Sullivan's efforts at the other end.
Two goals in the space of six minutes from midfielder Carey and Clann Mhuire's Rowe – created wonderfully by Healy – had Mick Bohan's charges in good stead but Finn kept matters ticking over elsewhere.
As half-time approached, Oonagh Whyte and Orlagh Farmer traded points leaving the score at the interval reading 2-5 to 1-6.
On the restart and equipped with fresh legs, the reigning All-Ireland champions steamrolled on as Carey palmed their third – and her second – goal into the Hill 16 end and Healy tagged on another point to put six between the sides.
Captain Ciara O'Sullivan and Finn kept Cork's spirits up but Rowe and Lyndsey Davey kept the scores coming for Dublin as another goal looked imminent.
But that wasn't to be.
After 45 minites, it was 3-9 to 1-9 with the Sky Blues dealt a sin-bin blow - Katie Murray was dismissed - as Finn and O'Sullivan reduced the defecit.
Cork kept ticking away while Dublin struggled to create chances, and were reduced to 13 when Lucy Collins was booked. Doireann O'Sullivan was sent marching at the other end, but Finn and Melissa Duggan kept the momentum going.
Like she opened matters, Scally closed the scoring with a point but her side's late rally fell just short as Dublin's bid for a first-ever league title rolls on.
Scorers for Dublin: Olwen Carey (2-0), Noelle Healy (0-3), Sinead Aherne (0-3, 1f), Carla Rowe (1-1), Oonagh White (0-1), Lyndsey Davey (0-1).
Scorers for Cork: Orla Finn (0-7, 4f), Eimear Scally (1-1, 1-0 pen), Ciara O'Sullivan (0-3), Doireann O'Sullivan (0-1), Orlagh Farmer (0-1), Melissa Duggan (0-1).
1. Ciara Trant (St Brigid's)
2. Martha Byrne (Cuala)
3. Katie Murray (Clontarf)
4. Leah Caffrey (Na Fianna)
5. Sinéad Goldrick (Foxrock Cabinteely)
6. Niamh Collins (Foxrock Cabinteely)
7. Muireann Ni Scanaill (Fingallians)
8. Lauren Magee (Kilmacud Crokes)
9. Olwen Carey (Thomas Davis)
10. Carla Rowe (Clann Mhuire)
11. Lyndsey Davey (Skerries Harps)
12. Eabha Rutledge (Kilmacud Crokes)
13. Sinéad Aherne (captain) St Sylvesters
14. Noelle Healy (St Brigid's)
15. Oonagh Whyte (Clann Mhuire)
22. Rebecca McDonnell for Oonagh Whyte (30)
25. Lucy Collins for Martha Byrne (HT)
19. Niamh McEvoy for Eabha Rutledge (HT)
17. Emily Flanagan for Carla Rowe (51)
26. Kate Fitzgibbon for Katie Murray (57)
1. Martina O'Brien (Clonakilty)
2. Aisling Kelleher (St. Valentine's)
3. Marie Ambrose (St. Valentine's)
4. Emma Spillane (Bantry Blues)
5. Maire O'Callaghan (Mourneabbey)
18. Eimear Meaney (Mourneabbey)
7. Shauna Kelly (Araglen Desmonds Bui)
8. Melissa Duggan (Dohenys)
9. Aishling Hutchings (Fermoy)
10. Bríd O'Sullivan (Mourneabbey)
11. Doireann O'Sullivan (Mourneabbey)
12. Orlagh Farmer (Midleton)
17. Ciara O'Sullivan (Mourneabbey)
14. Eimear Scally (Éire Óg)
15. Orla Finn (Kinsale)
25. Nicole Quinn for Aisling Kelleher (24)
13. Áine O'Sullivan for Aisling Hutchings (35)
19. Aisling Barrett for Emma Spillane (57)
Referee: Gavin Corrigan (Down).