Tuesday 14 August 2018

Fitzgerald eyes final after Cork rampage

Cork 8-18 Westmeath 1-6 Ladies SFC All-Ireland Q-final

Fiona Claffey, left, and Nicole Feery try to stop the run of Cork's Ciara O'Sullivan. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Fiona Claffey, left, and Nicole Feery try to stop the run of Cork's Ciara O'Sullivan. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald believes the tremendous work-rate of his players could send them back into an All-Ireland final after last year's heartache.

The 11-time champions will face off against Donegal in this year's All-Ireland semi-final on August 18.

And yesterday's victory over Westmeath outlined Cork's huge squad depth once again.

Saoirse Noonan scored a massive 1-5 after her introduction in the 38th minute, as Cork made it 23 goals in five championship games.

Fitzgerald knows tougher tests await as the Munster champions clash with their Ulster equivalent in the final four.

Cork were dumped out at this stage last year when Mayo shocked them. But the win over Westmeath was another step towards redemption.

Cork’s Saoirse Noonan scores a goal despite the efforts of Westmeath’s Jennifer Rogers. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Cork’s Saoirse Noonan scores a goal despite the efforts of Westmeath’s Jennifer Rogers. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

"It was very one-sided. We scored a goal after a minute and it was plain-sailing. It was a strange match for an All-Ireland quarter-final in that it was so lopsided," said Fitzgerald.

"We can only go out and give a performance as best we can. But there are bigger things ahead for us obviously with Donegal. They are a fairly formidable outfit but we will go away and give it our best over the next couple of weeks.

"We have a strong panel of players to pick from. We can bring on girls who are every bit as good as the players who are on there."

Cork were 3-5 to 0-3 ahead at half-time at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, with Libby Coppinger, Eimear Scally and Áine O'Sullivan on target. Doireann O'Sullivan, Noonan, Scally and Ciara O'Sullivan (two) added further goals in the second half.

Orlagh Farmer breaks through a challenge from Westmeath's Lucy Power. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Orlagh Farmer breaks through a challenge from Westmeath's Lucy Power. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

The Rebels won 11 of the 12 Brendan Martin Cups on offer between 2005 and 2016. And now they are just 60 minutes away from another decider.

Dublin were crowned champions last year, but Westmeath manager Stephen Maxwell believes Cork could be back on top this time around.

"Over the last 12 years Cork have been the best team in the country and they are probably back to their best now. Dublin had the All-Ireland win last year but Cork are absolutely flying it, and I don't envy Donegal trying to do what we had to today," said Maxwell.

Scorers - Cork: E Scally 2-3; C O'Sullivan 2-1; S Noonan 1-5 (0-2f); O Finn 0-7 (0-3f); L Coppinger 1-1; D O'Sullivan 1-1; A O'Sullivan 1-0. Westmeath: L Connolly 1-1; L Slevin 0-3 (0-2f); MA Foley 0-1; J Maher 0-1.

Ashling Hutchings breaks away from Fiona Claffey of Westmeath. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Ashling Hutchings breaks away from Fiona Claffey of Westmeath. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Cork - M O'Brien; E Meaney, R Phelan, M Duggan; M O'Callaghan, S Kelly, E Spillane; A Hutchings, D Kiely; C O'Sullivan, L Coppinger, E Scally; Á O'Sullivan, D O'Sullivan, O Finn. Subs: H Looney for Kiely (38), O Farmer for Á O'Sullivan (38), S Noonan for D O'Sullivan (38), M Ambrose for Duggan (49), C Collins for Kelly (49).

Westmeath: K Walsh; L Power, J Rogers, R Dillon; F Coyle, L Brennan, N Feery; MA Foley, A Connolly; F Claffey, L Slevin, J Maher; L McCartan, L Lee Walsh, A Dolan. Subs: K McDermott for Dolan (24), C Blundell for Brennan (41), A Giles for Power (48), C Clarke McMahon for Feery (49), A Ruane for Slevin (49), A Giles for Power (59).

Ref - S Mulvihill (Kerry).

Subscribe to The Throw-In, Independent.ie's weekly GAA podcast in association with Allianz, for the best in GAA discussion and analysis every week, with some of the biggest names in football and hurling from Joe Brolly, Tomás Ó'Sé and John Mullane.

Subscribe and listen to The Throw-In podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Cork's Libby Coppinger is presented with the Player of the Match award by Dominic Leech, President, LGFA Leinster Branch. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Cork's Libby Coppinger is presented with the Player of the Match award by Dominic Leech, President, LGFA Leinster Branch. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport