CORK made sure of their place in the league play-offs after their win over Galway at Clonberne yesterday.
After their win last week it looked like they had qualified but with Mayo winning on Saturday and points being taken off Kerry and awarded to Mayo it meant the Rebels needed a least a draw yesterday to guarantee qualification.
A good start set them well on their way to securing the points, in a game they dominated for long stretches.
They knew they would have to start on the front foot as Galway were on a high after their win over Dublin last weekend, but the Rebels soon brought them back down to earth.
With impressive displays from the likes of Emma Spillane, Melissa Duggan, Doireann and Aine T O’Sullivan they ensured they got the win needed.
But even at that, they had to be thankful to keeper, Martina O’Brien, who made a number of superb saves to deny Galway four goals.
Orla Finn put Cork in front from a free, with Doireann O’Sullivan adding a second as the Rebels started the brighter of the two sides.
Leanne Coen pulled a point back for Galway, but a mistake in their defence let in Cork for their opening goal, with eight minutes gone.
A free from Finn deceived everyone and the movement of Ciara O’Sullivan put off the Galway keeper, Lisa Murphy, as the ball found the back of the net, to make it 1-2 to 0-1, after eight minutes.
O’Sullivan added a point, with Mairead Seoighe responding at the other end.
Galway were unlucky not to goal of their own, with 10 minutes gone, when O’Brien saved well from Aine McDonagh, the first of three great saves she made in the first-half.
Doireann O’Sullivan and Aine O’Sullivan increased Cork’s lead until Galway upped their game and finished the half strongly.
Points from Seoighe and Leonard reduced the deficit before O’Brien made her second great save, this time denying Sarah Connelly.
Finn pointed from a free for Cork, with O’Brien again coming to their rescue at the other end, denying Seoighe this time.
However, the inevitable goal for Galway came just before half-time, when Coen found the back of the net as Cork led by 1-6 to 1-4 at half-time.
Like the first half, the Rebels started the second well, with a point from Finn increasing their lead. Four minutes in and a brilliant pass from Doireann O’Sullivan set up Marie O’Callaghan for their second goal, to make it 2-7 to 1-4. Davoren and Leonard pulled points back for Galway, with Doireann O’Sullivan and Brid O’Sullivan responding for Cork.
Galway then enjoyed their best spell of the tie, with two from Leonard, along with one from Roisin Leonard, putting only a goal between the sides, 2-9 to 1-9 with 50 minutes gone.
But the Rebels responded, with Brid O’Sullivan making it a four-point game again. With six minutes to go Cork got their third goal, to put the result beyond doubt, with an Eimear Scally free was punched to the net by Ciara O’Sullivan.
Finn added two points, to make it 3-12 to 1-9, with five minutes to go.
Two late points from Divilly reduced the deficit and injury-time O’Brien brought off another great save, this time denying Coen, to see the Rebels safely through to the play-offs.
Scorers for Cork: O Finn 1-5 (1-3 f), C O’Sullivan 1-1, M O’Callaghan 1-0, D O’Sullivan 0-3, B O’Sullivan 0-2, A O’Sullivan 0-1.
Galway: L Coen 1-1, T Leonard 0-4 (2 f), M Seoighe, O Divilly 0-2 each, A Davoren, R Leonard 0-1 each.
CORK: M O’Brien; E Spillane, E Meaney, A Barrett; M O’Callaghan, M Duggan, S Kelly; B O’Sullivan, A Hutchings; C O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, O Farmer; A O’Sullivan, E Scally, O Finn.
Subs: L Cleary for E Scally, A Kelleher for A Barrett, N Quinn for D O’Sullivan.
GALWAY: L Murphy; S Burke, S Lynch, S Molloy; C Cooney, N Ward, L Gannon; L Walsh, M Seoighe; A McDonagh, T Leonard, A Davoren; O Divilly, S Conneally, L Coen.
Subs: S Divilly for L Walsh, R Leonard for S Conneally, N Daly for M Seoighe, D Brennan for A Davoren.
Ref: G McMahon (Mayo).