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Ryan praises Cork for rising to challenge

SOMETIMES even manager Eamon Ryan is taken aback by the sheer majesty of the Cork ladies team.

He's watched them win six of the last seven TG4 All-Ireland titles but the hunger levels for success remain unsated.

Ryan hoped that his players would rise to the challenge in last Saturday's All-Ireland semi-final against Monaghan in Birr and his players, as they normally do, delivered in style.

Make no mistake, this was a challenge for all-conquering Cork.

Back in May, Monaghan beat them by three points in the National League Division 1 final.

Monaghan cruised to Ulster championship glory before hitting 4-15 against Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Cork, in contrast, were barely tested in this year's championship and would have preferred a much tougher challenge against Donegal in the last eight. The Leesiders won by 8-27 to 0-2 and learned absolutely nothing new.

But as Ryan said, his players love a challenge.

"That was very satisfying," Ryan said. "Monaghan are a very good team. We knew they would be a huge challenge, but we rose to it, I'd say even better than we expected."

The positives were many, with Brid Stack outstanding at full-back and Briege Corkery magnificent in the half-back line. At midfield, Juliet Murphy pulled the strings with Valerie Mulcahy and Nollaig Cleary, particularly in the second half, scoring freely up front.

Cork led by 1-9 to 0-6 at half-time and it was a devastating scoring blitz before the break that put the holders in a real comfort zone.

Cork's nine-point win sets up a final meeting with Kerry on September 30. Barring a massive display from the Kingdom, the Brendan Martin Cup looks to be on its way back to Cork for the seventh time in eight seasons.

Scorers -- Cork: N Cleary 1-2, V Mulcahy 0-5 (3f), J Murphy 0-4 (2f), R Ní Bhuachalla 1-0, B Corkery, O Finn 0-2 each. Monaghan: C McConnell 0-4 (2f), N Kindlon 0-4f, C McAnespie, E McCarron, L McEnaney, C Mohan 0-1 each.

CORK -- E Harte; A M Walsh, B Stack, D O'Reilly; B Corkery, R Buckley, G O'Flynn; J Murphy, N Kelly; O Farmer, C O'Sullivan, D O'Sullivan; N Cleary, V Mulcahy, R Ní Bhuachalla. Subs: L McMahon for Farmer (42), O Finn for Ní Bhuachalla (50), Angela Walsh for C O'Sullivan (51), A Hutchings for Kelly (54), Annie Walsh for Cleary (58).

MONAGHAN -- L Martin; G McNally, S Courtney, C Reilly; T McNally, N Fahy, A McAnespie; A Casey, E McElroy; C McAnespie, L McEnaney, C Mohan; C McConnell, N Kindlon, C Courtney. Subs: E McCarron for McElroy (25).

Ref -- J Niland (Sligo).

Irish Independent