Fitzgerald relief as Cork keep up trophy tradition
Cork 1-10 Mayo 0-10
Ephie Fitzgerald admitted that collecting his first piece of silverware as Cork ladies senior football team manager on Saturday came as a huge relief.
Stepping into the shoes of Eamonn Ryan was never going to be a simple task but Fitzgerald has carried on the trophy-winning tradition as Cork powered to a fourth successive Lidl Division 1 crown.
It was Cork's 10th league crown in 12 seasons and they had to grind this one out against Mayo at Parnell Park, eventually prevailing with three points to spare.
Orla Finn was superb for Cork, scoring five of her six points in the second half, and three from play.
The Leesiders roared out of the blocks and were 1-3 to 0-0 clear within 10 minutes, a match-winning platform which they built from. Mayo managed to get within three points in both halves but never closer as Cork warmed up nicely for next weekend's Munster championship opener against Waterford.
And there was relief at full-time when Fitzgerald confirmed that injured skipper Ciara O'Sullivan had suffered concussion and not serious knee ligament damage as was first feared.
O'Sullivan, who has fallen victim to the cruciate curse twice in her career, was stretchered off in the second half after whacking her head off the turf.
Fitzgerald confirmed that she will miss the Waterford game but, thankfully, there is no long-term damage.
Mayo's wait for a first Division 1 title continues but they had chances on an evening when the Westerners registered 11 wides - including eight in the second half.
Cora Staunton kicked some picture-book scores but this was yet another disciplined Cork defensive display, as they coughed up just eight points from play over the hour.
Rhona Ní Bhuachalla's early goal, palmed home from close range to complete a slick inter-passing move, proved crucial.
"It's obviously a bit of a relief. It was a fair battle, more of a war of attrition than anything," reflected Fitzgerald. "It was a tough, hard physical game, and that was reflected in the scoreline."
Scorers - Cork: O Finn 0-6 (3f), R Ní Bhuachalla 1-1, R Buckley, O Farmer and A Walsh, 0-1 each. Mayo: C Staunton 0-6 (2f), S Mulvihill, S Rowe, N Kelly and G Kelly 0-1 each.
CORK: M O'Brien; E Meaney, B Stack, R Phelan; V Foley, D O'Reilly, M Ambrose; R Buckley, B Corkery; R Ní Bhuachalla, C O'Sullivan, A Walsh; Á O'Sullivan, H Looney, O Finn. Subs: O Farmer for Á O'Sullivan (27), E Scally for Ní Bhuachalla (43), S Kelly for C O'Sullivan (inj, 48).
MAYO: Y Byrne; O Conlon, S Tierney, D Hughes; R Kearns, M Carter, L Ryder; C McManamon, A Gilroy; C Hegarty, F McHale, S Mulvihill; S Rowe, C Staunton, N Kelly. Subs: G Kelly for Gilroy (22), N O'Malley for Hegarty (35), C McManamon for Mulvihill (48), C Egan for Hughes (49).
Ref - B Rice (Down)
Victory a tonic for Naughton
Donegal 3-17 Westmeath 0-13
Michael Naugton might have some tricky questions to answer when he returns to Letterkenny General Hospital later today.
Donegal boss Naughton, who's facing surgery, stunned medics on Friday when he signed himself out. There was no way that Naughton was going to miss out on Donegal's promotion push.
Victory in Saturday's Lidl Ladies NFL Division 2 decider atoned for last year's final loss and sent Donegal back to the top flight after relegation in 2014.
Naughton wasn't the only member of the Donegal camp putting his body on the line.
Geraldine McLaughlin lined out with two painkilling injections and Eilish Ward carried a broken nose into the game. McLaughlin starred as, despite losing Ciara Hegarty and Katy Herron to late sin-binnings, a 13-point win was secured.
Scorers - Donegal: Y McMonagle 2-5, G McLaughlin 0-6 (4f), A Barrett 1-2, K Guthrie 0-3 (1f), K Herron 0-1.
Westmeath: L Archibald 0-7f, K Hegarty & L Walsh 0-2 each, F Claffey & C Blundell 0-1 each.
DONEGAL - A McColgan; T Doherty, E Gallagher, K Wilson; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, D Foley; K Herron, K Guthrie; E Ward, N Hegarty, G Houston; A Barrett, Y McMonagle, G McLaughlin. Subs: K Keeney for Wilson (39), S McGruddy for Foley (48), R Friel for N Hegarty (57), B McLaughlin for G McLaughlin (57).
WESTMEATH - S Keegan; F Coyle, L Brennan, T Durkan; F Claffey, J Rogers, A Martin; MA Foley, K McDermott; R O'Connor, L Archibald, J Maher; C Blundell, L Walsh, K Hegarty. Subs: L McCartan for Maher (inj, 20), C Kelly for O'Connor (h-t), S McGrath for Coyle (48), A Brady for Durkan (52).
Ref - K Delahunty (Tipperary)
Delahunty in late, late show
Waterford 1-13 Tipperary 1-12
Maria Delahunty's sensational free, with the last kick of the game, sealed Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3 glory for Waterford at Semple Stadium yesterday.
Delahunty held her nerve to convert a stunning effort from 30 metres out on the New Stand side of Semple Stadium to secure promotion to Division 2 for the Déise.
This one looked like it was heading for extra-time, like its predecessor in Clane last weekend, but Delahunty had the final say for last year's All-Ireland intermediate champions.
But on the form they showed over the course of two games, Tipp will challenge hard for intermediate glory this summer, as Waterford warmed up for next Sunday's Munster senior opener against Cork.
It was cruel luck on Tipperary but Waterford showed true grit to dig out the result.
Scorers - Waterford: K Murray 1-2, M Delahunty 0-4 (3f), S Ryan 0-3 (2f), A Wall 0-2, L Wall & M Ryan 0-1 each. Tipperary: M Morrissey 1-4, A Moloney 0-3 (1f), G O'Brien 0-2, L O'Shea, E Hanley & E Carroll 0-1 each.
WATERFORD - K Hannon; M Wall, M McGrath, L Wall; E Murray, M Dunford, A Mullaney; L Ryan, K Murray; M Delahunty, R Tobin, C McGrath; A Wall, G Kenneally, S Ryan. Subs: L Devine for McGrath (23), M Ryan for Tobin (39), C Hurley for Devine (44), N Fennell for L Ryan (46), L McGregor for Mullaney (53).
TIPPERARY - P Hickey; B Condon, S Lambert, S Delahunty; A O'Dwyer, J Grant, C Mullins; L O'Shea, S Carew; C Walsh, M Morrissey, E Myles; A Moloney, G O'Brien, E Hanley. Subs: E Carroll for Walsh (25), A McCarthy for Hanley (50), C O'Dwyer for Mullins (55), A O'Shea for Carroll (58).
Ref - J Murphy (Carlow).