Fitzgerald hails 'clinical' Rebelettes after Galway rout
Ladies SFC quarter-finals: Cork 6-19 Galway 1-10
Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald hailed a "clinical" and "magnificent" attacking display as the TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football champions demolished Galway by 24 points in Saturday's last-eight encounter at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar.
The Rebelettes lost to Waterford and Kerry in Munster, and did just about enough to get past Monaghan in the qualifiers, but they opened up with a devastating display to dispatch Connacht champions Galway.
Even without injured 2016 Player of the Year Bríd Stack, Cork produced arguably their best display under Fitzgerald to set up a semi-final with Mayo on September 2.
Galway were buried under a six-goal avalanche and while Cork may have been written off after those provincial defeats and left the threat of relegation hanging over them, reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Fitzgerald purred: "We were very clinical today and I think our forward play was magnificent at times. Obviously, the game was over at half-time - 12 points up with a gale-force wind.
"The only worry was that we might slacken off a little bit and let them back into it, but we didn't."
When asked if that display was the best he's seen from his players during his reign, Fitzgerald responded: "It's hard to say. In terms of scoring, probably yes. But it's in their locker. That forward line, it's probably the first time they've played together all year."
Bríd O'Sullivan came off the bench to decorate a phenomenal Cork display with a 2-1 haul.
But the damage was done in a spell before and after half-time that saw Cork register 3-11 without reply - 2-9 of that approaching the interval.
Cork were 1-1 to 0-7 adrift before they opened up with both barrels to crush the challenge of Galway.
Cork had roared into an early 1-1 to 0-1 lead, Aine O'Sullivan on target with the early goal, but Galway responded well and landed six points without reply.
Galway lost key midfielder Catriona Cormican to injury and the floodgates opened.
Midfielder Niamh Cotter and Eimear Scally raised green flags before half-time before Doireann O'Sullivan lobbed Galway goalkeeper Dearbhla Gower, to punish a misdirected kick-out early in the second half.
Deirdre Brennan registered a consolation goal for Galway in the 41st minute, but O'Sullivan netted twice before the finish to add further gloss to the scoreboard.
Galway suffered another huge blow with nine minutes left, when captain Emer Flaherty was yellow-carded - and the outclassed Tribeswomen would finish the game with 14 players.
Fitzgerald added: "I suppose the pressure was off us today in the sense that, with the Monaghan game, we had this relegation thing hanging over us.
"We're very proud, we didn't want to be involved in any relegation battles or anything like that, so that was probably more pressure on us. Today they were able to express themselves a bit more."
That they did - the quest for seven-in-a-row remains on track.
Scorers - Cork: O Finn 0-10 (4f), B O'Sullivan 2-1, E Scally 1-3, Á O'Sullivan & D O'Sullivan (0-1f) 1-2 each, N Cotter 1-0, C O'Sullivan 0-1. Galway: D Brennan 1-0, M Seoighe (1f) and T Leonard (2f) 0-3 each, S Hynes, C Cormican, O Divilly and M Glynn 0-1 each.
Cork - M O'Brien; E Meaney, R Phelan, E Spillane; M Duggan, A Hutchings, S Kelly; N Cotter, O Farmer; C O'Sullivan, D O'Sullivan, A Walsh; E Scally, A O'Sullivan, O Finn. Subs: D Brennan for Cormican (inj, 19), S Molloy for A Seoighe (h-t), D Gorman for Cooney (37), A Davoren for Conneally (47), N Duggan for T Leonard (54).
Galway - D Gower; F Cooney, E Flaherty, S Hynes; A Seoighe, B Hannon, S Burke; L Gannon, C Cormican; O Divilly, M Seoighe, A McDonagh; T Leonard, S Conneally, M Glynn. Subs: B O'Sullivan for Á O'Sullivan (40), J O'Shea for Farmer (40), M O'Callaghan for Walsh (40), L Colohan for Scally (47), a Hayes for C O'Sullivan (52).
Ref - N McCormack (Laois)
Kelly sisters help Mayo secure place in last four
Mayo 3-14 Donegal 2-11
Manager Frank Browne said his Mayo team released a flood of hurt and emotion against Donegal in Saturday's All-Ireland Ladies SFC quarter-final at Cusack Park in Mullingar.
The beaten Connacht finalists have returned to the stage where they stumbled in last year's competition, when Dublin edged past them by just a single point in a classic Kingspan Breffni Park encounter.
On the morning of that game, an interview with Browne was published where he spoke about how his daughter, Emma, died from pneumonia, aged just six months and two days, back in 2003.
And Browne said: "You know what, we've been carrying a huge amount of hurt. I remember talking to you in Breffni Park, a hugely emotional day after an article in the paper.
"We've been storing up that hurt for the last, what is it now, almost a year ago. We've been waiting for days like today. We put in a massive performance."
Mayo suffered Connacht provincial final heartbreak against Galway in July, but after seeing off Kildare in the qualifiers, the underdogs put Donegal to the sword.
Second-half goals from the Kelly sisters, Niamh and Grace, and Cora Staunton helped to seal a six-point victory over Ulster winners Donegal.
Both sides lost a player to the sin-bin in the first half, but Mayo held their nerve to set up a semi-final clash with holders Cork.
For Donegal, it's another case of what might have been.
They started well with early goals from Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle, but Mayo were level at half-time and got the job done after the break.
Scorers - Mayo: C Staunton 1-6 (3f), G Kelly 1-4, N Kelly 1-0, S Rowe 0-3, A Gilroy 0-1. Donegal: Y McMonagle 1-3, G McLaughlin 1-1 (1f), K Guthrie 0-3 (2f), N Hegarty 0-2, A McDonnell and K Herron 0-1 each.
Mayo: Y Byrne; O Conlon, S Tierney, M Carter; M Corbett, R Kearns, F Doherty; A Gilroy, F McHale; D Hughes, N Kelly, C Whyte; S Rowe, C Staunton, G Kelly. Subs: A Dowling for Whyte (37), N O'Malley for Doherty (58), M McGing for Hughes (58).
Donegal: A McColgan; T Doherty, E Gallagher, N McLaughlin; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, A McDonnell; K Herron, K Guthrie; G Houston, N Hegarty, E Ward; R Friel, G McLaughlin, Y McMonagle. Subs: L Gallagher for McColgan (21), S McGroddy for Friel (21), D Foley for Houston (46), P McGrory for Ward (56).
Ref - G Chapman (Sligo)