Thursday 22 March 2018

Peerless Cork crowned senior champions for tenth time in 11 years

Cork 0-12 Dublin 0-10

Dublin’s Sinéad Goldrick has her shot saved by Cork’s Bríd Stack in the final minute of the game
Dublin’s Sinéad Goldrick has her shot saved by Cork’s Bríd Stack in the final minute of the game
Cork players Maire O'Callaghan, left, and Doireann O'Sullivan celebrate after the game
Ciara O’Sullivan, Cork, is tackled by Sinéad Goldrick

Jackie Cahill

They came, they saw, and they conquered - again.

Is there no end to this Cork ladies senior football team?

The second five-in-a-row under Eamonn Ryan's watch was secured at Croke Park yesterday, as the Rebelettes claimed a tenth All-Ireland title in 11 seasons.

Just the one defeat in the All-Ireland series since 2005 now and Dublin boss Gregory McGonigle, while not prepared to publicly admit it, must be sick of the sight of the blood and bandage.

McGonigle suffered his fourth All-Ireland final defeat at the hands of Cork yesterday, but insisted that this one wasn't as devastating as 12 months ago, when Dublin blew a ten-point lead in the final 20 minutes.


In this case, he could console himself with the knowledge that the age profile of the Dublin team is low, with 17 members of a 27-player panel under the age of 20.

That hints at a bright future for the Jackies but Cork remain the present.

For McGonigle, the wait goes on following those two defeats in charge of Monaghan in 2011 and 2013, and now two-in-a-row with the Dublin 'Bainisteoir' bib.

Cork, being Cork, find a way to get the job done. Level at 0-5 each at half-time, they hit four in a row on the resumption to open up a match-winning lead.

Dublin, to their credit, rallied to within a point in the dying embers but Valerie Mulcahy nailed her seventh point to provide the cushion.

Dublin huffed and puffed but Cork, by fair means and foul, kept them out to retain the silverware.

A little bit of inexperience and naivete told as Dublin went on the chase. After winning a free, they coughed it up again as referee John Niland, correctly, ruled that two Dublin players were too close together from the kick.

A small moment but yet another that added up to the bigger picture. The critics of Cork and their enduring success will lament this latest win but you cannot but admire them.

Questions were asked and, again, they were answered.

They lost last year's final matchwinner Geraldine O'Flynn to injury in the first half and refused to yield.

Ryan said: "I was totally impressed by (O'Flynn's replacement) Róisín Phelan.

"Obviously she would have been hurting for not being on but we lost one of our marquee players in Geraldine O'Flynn but Róisín Phelan rose to the occasion, to the manner born."

Mulcahy endured a mixed bag on the frees and from general play but did enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over as Dublin were left reliant on the scoring prowess of former minor star Carla Rowe.

Ultimately, five points from play was a poor return from a Dublin team that had been scoring freely but Cork had their homework done and the shutters came down. The sides were level at half-time, 0-5 apiece, before Mulcahy hit three in a row after the break.

Doireann O'Sullivan added another and suddenly Cork were four clear, before Dublin responded.

There was some heroic late defending from Cork as Dublin went in search of an elusive goal and Doireann O'Sullivan took a sin-bin for the team as she hauled down an opponent with a rugby tackle.

As Cork dug in, their two dual stars played their part, each collecting a 16th All-Ireland senior medal.

Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley were both excellent and at full-time, Corkery revealed the role that O'Flynn played in the dressing room at the break.

"She told us it was here for us to leave behind," revealed Corkery, as O'Flynn took up the baton similar to Kilkenny's Jackie Tyrrell.

"(She said) that we were plenty good enough to win. We had to get our legs and hands in motion, drive on and have no regrets coming off that pitch."

Again, it was Dublin left with tears for souvenirs and McGonigle could only tip his hat to the champions.

"What they have done for ladies football is to be commended," said the Derry native. "Sure, Dublin will have to beat somebody some day in the final, we know it's going to be Cork.

"You'd rather beat Cork in a final than somebody else."

Scorers - Cork: V Mulcahy 0-7 (6f), D O'Sullivan 0-2, R Buckley, C O'Sullivan & E Scally 0-1 each.

Dublin: C Rowe 0-6 (5f), A Connolly, N McEvoy, L Davey & S McCaffrey 0-1 each.

CORK - M O'Brien; M Ambrose, B Stack, A Barrett; V Foley, D O'Reilly, G O'Flynn; R Buckley, B Corkery; C O'Sullivan, A Hutchings, A Walsh; V Mulcahy, Á O'Sullivan, D O'Sullivan. Subs: R Phelan for O'Flynn (15), E Scally for Á O'Sullivan (39), O Finn for Hutchings (42), R Ní Bhuachalla for Walsh (49).

DUBLIN - C Trant; O Carey, M Uí Scanaill, F Hudson; S Furlong, S Finnegan, C Barrett; M Lamb, S Goldrick; N Healy, A Connolly, C Rowe; N McEvoy, L Davey, H Noonan. Subs: K Flood for Noonan (h-t), N Owens for Barrett (39), N Collins for Hudson (47), S McCaffrey for Connolly (51), N Rickard for Lamb (56).

Ref - J Niland (Sligo)

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