Tuesday 25 September 2018

Healy on song as Sky Blues win battle of the champions

Dublin 3-9 Cork 1-14

10 February 2018; Melissa Duggan of Cork in action against Olwen Carey of Dublin during their Lidl Ladies Football National League Division 1 match. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
10 February 2018; Melissa Duggan of Cork in action against Olwen Carey of Dublin during their Lidl Ladies Football National League Division 1 match. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Emma Duffy

Reigning All-Ireland ladies senior football champions Dublin edged past National League holders Cork by just a single point at Croke Park last night.

As both entered 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 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 Dublin 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 they failed to capitalise on that while Cork staged their comeback.

Cork's Orla Finn takes a free during during the match against Dublin. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cork's Orla Finn takes a free during during the match against Dublin. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Two earlier goals from Olwen Carey and another from Carla Rowe were enough to see them home though, on a night when 2017 Players' 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 the push 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 Bohan's charges in good stead but Finn kept matters ticking over elsewhere as Dublin led by 2-5 to 1-6 at the break.

On the restart and equipped with fresh legs, the All-Ireland champions steamrolled on as Carey palmed their third - and her second - goal into the Hill 16 end.

Captain Ciara O'Sullivan and Finn kept Cork's spirits up but Rowe and Lyndsey Davey kept the scores coming for Dublin.

Dublin's Carla Rowe in action against Cork's Shauna Kelly at Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Dublin's Carla Rowe in action against Cork's Shauna Kelly at Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

After 45 minutes, 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 deficit. Dublin were reduced to 13 when Lucy Collins was booked. Scally closed the scoring with a point but her side's late rally fell just short as Dublin's bid for a first league title rolls on.

Scorers - Dublin: O Carey 2-0; C Rowe 1-1; N Healy, S Aherne 0-3 (1f) each; O White, L Davey 0-1 each. Cork: O Finn 0-7 (4f); E Scally 1-1 (1-0 pen); C O'Sullivan 0-3; D O'Sullivan, O Farmer, M Duggan 0-1 each.

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