Saoirse Noonan goal proves vital as Cork ladies footballers grab victory in Kerry

Cork 1-14 Kerry 0-14

CORK got their TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship off to a winning start after a hard-fought win over Kerry at Austin Stack Park, Tralee.

It was a must-win game for the Rebels as had they lost they would have been out of the championship and the Kingdom would have progressed.

This was always going to be a tough game for Cork with Kerry in confident mood after their win over Cavan last week.

The crucial score came as early as the second minute when Saoirse Noonan got the only goal of the game, the margin between the sides at the end.

Both sides had a number of impressive displays with Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh the pick of the Kerry side and for Cork Doireann O'Sullivan, Erika O'Shea and Player of the Game, Melissa Duggan, were in top form.

Cork got off to a perfect start with Ciara O'Sullivan pointing after 35 seconds and with two minutes gone they got their goal. O'Sullivan played in Aine O'Sullivan and her pass found Noonan who gave Kerry keeper, Ciara Butler, no chance of saving.

Noonan was on target again after four minutes as Cork were dominating the early possession.

Kerry started to grow into the game and with five minutes gone Anna Galvin get them off the mark. Siofra O' Shea added a second as the Kingdom were now dominating.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh showed her class with their third and by the time the water break came she had added two more to see the sides level, 1-2 to 0-5.

Doireann O'Sullivan put Cork back in front, before Ní Mhuircheartaigh had the sides level again. Kerry were unlucky not to goal when Hannah O'Donoghue's shot found the side netting and at the other end an Orlagh Farmer effort came back off the bar.

With five minutes to go to half-time Ní Mhuircheartaigh put Kerry in front, from a free, and she scored again from another free, to make it 0-8 to 1-3.

Orla Finn pointed from a free for Cork with Andrea Murphy replying for Kerry. Finn, with another free, got the last score of the half as Kerry led 0-9 to 1-5 at the break.

Kerry increased their lead at the start of the second-half when O'Shea pointed in the first minute, but Cork visibly upped their game to dominate until the water break.

Finn put Cork in front and Ciara O'Sullivan pointed, to make it 1-9 to 0-10, with 46 minutes gone.

Aine O'Sullivan and Doireann O'Sullivan increased Cork's lead, before Ní Mhuircheartaigh pulled a point back for Kerry and with five minutes to go she was on target again a free which saw Maire O'Callaghan sin-binned much to the confusion of all watching.

Finn pointed from a free for Cork, with Ní Mhuircheartaigh responding as Kerry went in search of the goal they needed.

Doireann kept the scoreboard ticking over for Cork and in the last minute, Ní Mhuircheartaigh pointed again to put only two between the sides.

But Noonan showed all her soccer skills as she soloed with the ball on the ground with a brilliant run up the wing to point to see Cork now on track for the semi-finals as they face Cavan next Sunday in Birr.

Scorers for Cork: S Noonan 1-2, O Finn 0-5 f, D O'Sullivan 0-4, C O'Sullivan 0-2, A O'Sullivan 0-1.

Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-10 (0-8 f), S O'Shea 0-2, A Galvin, A Murphy 0-1 each.

CORK: M O’Brien; A Kelleher, R Phelan, E Meaney; M Duggan, S Kiely, A Hutchings; M O’Callaghan, H Looney; O Farmer, C O’Sullivan, O Finn; Á O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, S Noonan.

Subs: E O'Shea for A Kelleher (22), E Kiely for O Farmer (h-t), M Cahalane for S Kelly (39), B O'Sullivan for A O'Sullivan (52).

KERRY: C Butler; A Doherty, A Desmond, S Murphy; N Carmody, A O’Connell, C Murphy; L Scanlon, M O’Connell; N Ní Chonchúir, A Murphy, A Galvin; H O’Donoghue, S O’Shea, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh, E Dineen for S O'Shea, (45m).

Subs: K Cronin for M O'Connell (39), F Tagney for N Ní Chonchúir (52), E O'Leary for N Carmody (57).

Referee: John Devlin (Galway).

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