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Eimear Scally of Cork scores her side's goal at Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Eimear Scally of Cork scores her side's goal at Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Cork ladies footballers get title defence off to winning start at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Cork 1-9 Westmeath 0-6

IN a historic day at Páirc Uí Chaoimh the Cork ladies footballers got the defence of their Lidl Ladies National Football League title off to a winning start.

Their league clash against Westmeath was the first time they played a competitive game at the Páirc and the Cork side were determined not to come out on the wrong side of the scoreline.

Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Overall Cork were the better side and deserved the win and will only get better as the season goes on.

They had four changes from the starting team announced with Shauna Kelly, Laura Cleary, Brid O'Sullivan and Orlagh Farmer not starting, with Laura O'Mahony, Eimer Scally, Saoirse Noonan and Libby Coppinger taking their places.

All bar Kelly, who was sick, came on and played their part in Cork's win.

Orla Finn wrote her own little bit of history as she got the first score in a competitive ladies football game at the Páirc to put Cork in front in the second minute. She added their second, from a free, after eight minutes at the home side were dominating the early exchanges.

Two minutes later and Finn got her third as Westmeath were finding it difficult to get the ball out of their own half.

Finn got her fourth, to make it 0-4 to no score, with 12 minutes gone. A minute later and Leona Archibold got Westmeath on the scoreboard from a free.

But Cork continued to dominate and Laura O'Mahony scored from distance to keep them four points to the good.

Saoirse Noonan at Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Saoirse Noonan at Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

From the re-start Cork regained possession and this time it was Scally who wrote her little bit of personal history.

She latched onto a loose ball in the Westmeath defence to become the first ladies footballer to score a goal at the stadium, to make it 1-5 to 0-1, after 18 minutes. Unfortunately for her and Cork she went off injured just before half-time.

However Cork won't be happy how they finished the first half, as they failed to score again after Scally's goal.

Rachel Dillon and Lucy McCartan pointed for Westmeath to reduce the deficit and it took a great block from Ashling Hutchings to deny them a goal.

Vicky Carr played McCartan in but her goalbound effort was well blocked by Hutchings to see Cork lead 1-5 to 0-3 at half-time.

Scores were few and far between in the second half with both sides tiring. Finn extended Cork's lead before Jo Hanna Maher pulled a point back for Westmeath.

It took a great last-ditch tackle from Dillon to deny Cork a goal, before Aoife Connolly was on target for the visitors, to make it 0-5 to 1-6.

With 10 minutes to go Caoimhe O'Callaghan was sin-binned for Cork, for persistent fouling, but Cork continued to dominate.

Finn, Laura Cleary and Ciara McCarthy all pointed, to make it 1-9 to 0-5.

Connolly got the last score of the game in the last minute as Cork got the defence of their title off to a winning start.

Sadhbh O'Leary of Cork in action against Tracy Dillon of Westmeath. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile 
Sadhbh O'Leary of Cork in action against Tracy Dillon of Westmeath. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile 

Scorers for Cork: E Scally 1-0, O Finn 0-6 (0-4 f), L O'Mahony, C McCarthy, L Cleary 0-1 each.

Westmeath: A Connolly 0-2 f, L Archibold (f), R Dillon, L McCartan, J H Maher 0-1 each.

CORK: M O’Brien; M Ambrose, R Phelan, C O’Callaghan; L O'Mahony, A Hutchings, M Duggan; M O’Callaghan, H Looney; A O'Sullivan, L Coppinger, O Finn; S O’Leary, S Noonan, E Scally.

Subs: B O'Sullivan for E Scally (28m), O Farmer for A O'Sullivan (ht), L Cleary for S O'Leary (45m), for C McCarthy for L Coppinger (53m), E Cleary for O Finn (60m).

WESTMEATH: L McCormack; R Dillon; K McDermott, L Power; F Coyle, F Claffey, A Roche; J Maher, V Carr; T Dillon, L Archibold, L McCartan; J Draper, S McCormack, A Dolan.

Subs: S Dolan for J Draper (15m), L Slevin for S McCormack (28m), A Connolly for A Dolan (40m), A Sheerin for L Slevin (47m), G Halligan for T Dillon (59m), K Hegarty for L McCartan (60m), C Thornton for L Archibold (60m).

Ref: Seamus Mulvihill, Kerry.