Finn: The league was a great experience for younger players

Finn: The league was a great experience for younger players
Maire O'Callaghan of Cork is tackled by Clodagh McManamon of Mayo. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

CORK’S hopes of making it six Lidl Womens National Football League titles in-a-row were halted by Mayo on Sunday in a top-quality game at St Brendan’s Park in Birr.

Right to the end it could have gone either way, with the Cork girls giving it their all and Mayo having everyone back in defence as they tried to keep the Rebels out.

In fairness to Mayo in the last few minutes, their defence was strong and perhaps at times too strong with some of the physical challenges on the edge, if not over them.

But that doesn’t matter now as Mayo advance to the final against Dublin in two weeks time and Cork having to turn their attentions to their Munster championship clash with Tipperary in six weeks.

Sunday saw little or nothing between the sides but a Mayo goal, 21 minutes into the second-half was the crucial score in their win, putting them four points up at the time, a lead they were never to lose again, despite the Rebels best efforts.

Cork came close and at the final whistle there were only two points in it, 1-20 to 3-12, with Mayo corner-back Orla Conlon also somehow managing to clear the ball off the line when Aine O’Sullivan looked like she was going to goal to give Cork the win.

But this league has been a huge learning curve for some of Cork’s younger and experienced players, something that Orla Finn reflected on afterward.

Mayo goalkeeper Rachel Kearns, supported by Emma Lowther, is challenged Orla Finn. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Mayo goalkeeper Rachel Kearns, supported by Emma Lowther, is challenged Orla Finn. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

“Very disappointed to lose, we tried out best out there today but it just wasn’t our day. We have a relatively new team and there is a lot of younger players on compared to last year and the few years before that.

“They have had a great league campaign overall and they will learn a lot from it. The league is a tough campaign and getting to a semi-final is a fantastic experience for them and something to build on going forward.

“Luck didn’t go our way in the end but we have to concentrate on championship now and start looking to the game against Tipperary in the coming weeks.

“This campaign will stand to all of us going into the championship, especially as I said the younger ones, and that can only be good for the panel as we face into the championship.

“We have a few players that will be back once they finish their exams and they will add to the competition for places and once we get over the disappointment of today we will drive on for the championship,” concluded Orla.

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