Fitzgerald left 'thrilled' as Cork power to 12th title
Cork 1-12 Galway 2-7
Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald believes his county have been given the lift they need as they overwhelmed Galway to earn another Division 1 title.
Following back-to-back wins over reigning TG4 All-Ireland champions Dublin in their last two games, Cork were crowned league champions for a 12th time in Parnell Park.
Having won their first title in 2005 and completing a five-in-a-row between 2013 and 2017, Fitzgerald's side reclaimed their throne.
Substitute Saoirse Noonan scored the crucial goal in a victory that also moved Cork one ahead of Munster rivals Kerry in the roll of honour.
"It's a big lift for Cork in general," said Fitzgerald.
"People thought when the older crew went there would be a change in the guard. It's a league title and we are absolutely thrilled with that.
"Since I have come in there was only nine of the 30 involved so there has been a massive turnover. That is testament to the work being done.
"Galway were looking for their first national league title, but the one thing you can never question with our girls is their character. We can certainly play better, but we controlled the game in the second-half and after the penalty miss we took over completely."
Fitzgerald had already inspired his players to two victories over champions Dublin in the league, and this was a huge win for last season's beaten TG4 All-Ireland finalists.
Noonan finished her goal brilliantly when she was presented with her chance in the 48th minute and that killed off the Galway challenge.
Captain Martina O'Brien had saved a Róisín Leonard penalty and although Charlotte Cooney and Louise Ward did find a way past the Cork goalkeeper, Galway were second best in this divisional final, their sixth reversal in the decider.
Galway dominated the opening quarter, but Cork worked their way into the game and took a narrow 0-7 to 0-5 lead into the half-time break.
Tracey Leonard scored her first point in the fourth minute, but she missed her two other attempts from frees, with her cousin Róisín Leonard unerring. Orla Finn tied things up for the first time before Róisín Leonard tapped over her opening free, and Ciara O'Sullivan hit back for Cork.
The Munster outfit took the lead for the first time in the 16th minute when Libby Coppinger manipulated an opening and scored for a 0-3 to 0-2 advantage.
Finn scored her second to make it a double-scores lead in the 20th minute and that came just after Mairéad Seoighe was awarded a yellow card, when the Galway attacker collided with Hannah Looney off the ball.
Galway were down to 14 players, but they scored the next two points through Megan Glynn and a wonderful Róisín Leonard point. However, those scores were soon cancelled out by Finn and Eimear Scally.
Cork had Aishling Hutchings yellow-carded in the 29th minute when she fouled Róisín Leonard. It was Róisín Leonard who halved the deficit as well, but Cork scored last in the half, as Ciara O'Sullivan's second secured a two-point interval lead.
Leanne Coen was a half-time substitute for Galway and she was hauled down for a penalty six minutes after the restart. Róisín Leonard stepped up, but her shot was the perfect height for O'Brien to bat away.
Hutchings returned just after Niamh Cotter scored a brilliant Cork point and Scally scored another stunning point after she combined with Hannah Noonan. Cork were 0-9 to 0-5 in front and Finn's fourth meant for another double-scores lead in the 42nd minute.
Six minutes later Ciara O'Sullivan played in Noonan and she was calm enough to pass the ball past Lisa Murphy for the crucial Cork goal - a stunning finish with a side-foot volley from the substitute.
However, Galway hit back when Charlotte Cooney blasted to the net in the 52nd minute, while Niamh Cotter and Ciara O'Sullivan both saw yellow for Cork.
Galway scored late with points from Tracey Leonard and Lucy Hannon, and after Sinéad Burke was sent to the sin bin, Louise Ward scored a magnificent goal. However, there wasn't enough time for the comeback and Cork held on for a deserved win.
"We didn't shy away from the responsibility that we had today to perform," said Galway boss Tim Rabbitte.
"We couldn't say that we did perform and I am disappointed for the girls because I know how hard they have worked for it.
"We will lick our wounds for a couple of days, but we will back at it very soon. We have a Connacht championship to prepare for. This was only another step in the journey."
Scorers - Cork: O Finn 0-5 (3f), S Noonan 1-0, E Scally 0-3, C O'Sullivan 0-2, L Coppinger, N Cotter 0-1 each.
Galway: C Cooney, L Ward 1-0 each, R Leonard 0-3 (2f), T Leonard 0-2 (2f), M Glynn, L Hannon 0-1 each .
Cork - M O'Brien; C O'Shea, H Looney, M Duggan; M O'Callaghan, E Kiely, S Kelly; N Cotter, A Hutchings; C O'Sullivan, O Farmer, D Kiely; E Scally, L Coppinger, O Finn. Subs: E Meaney for D Kiely (39), for S Noonan for O'Callaghan (39), R Ní Bhuachalla for Coppinger (47), E Spillane for E Kiely (50),
Galway - L Murphy; S Molloy, F Cooney, S Lynch; O Murphy, S Burke, C Cooney; L Ward, B Hannon; O Divilly, T Leonard, M Glynn; M Seoighe, S Conneally, R Leonard. Subs: L Coen for Seoighe (half-time), Á McDonagh for Conneally (44), L Hannon for Glynn (50), M Coyne for B Hannon (58).
Ref - M Farrelly (Cavan).