A STURDY defensive performance by Cork secured a key victory in the third round of the Lidl Division 1 National League in Mallow yesterday.
Cork now sit joint top of the table with Donegal and Dublin, with all having lost just one game in this year's campaign, while Mayo await next Saturday away.
Having been defeated by Armagh a fortnight away, the reigning champions were eager to do themselves justice, and they certainly did in front of a sizeable crowd.
Overall the game wasn't much to write home about, however all eyes were on some of the newer players, given that this was just Cork's second home game since they were drafted into the starting line-up.
Defensively, Doheny's Melissa Duggan is proving to be a solid find, and despite being named at number four, she moved to wing-back, as Eimear Meaney slotted in at corner-back, with Sinead Cotter making way.
Niamh Cotter was also impressive in midfield as she partnered Louise Coholan of St Val's, and the Beara star was a constant link between the back-line and the attacking unit.
Coholan unfortunately was forced off in the second-half due to a facial injury, but she too worked well, as did Libby Coppinger of St Colum's at wing-forward. Coppinger had lined out for the Cork senior camogie team just 24 hours earlier at the same venue as Paudi Murray's side got their national league campaign underway, with Dublin also losing that contest.
The opening half was a mediocre one in the sense that both sides put in good defensive shifts, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring through Lyndsey Davey, who scored Dublin's only goal on the ninth minute, to put Mick Bohane's side three points in front.
Top scorer Orla Finn's free-taking however came to the fore as she kicked all of Cork's opening scores, bar one (Coppinger), as Ephie Fitzgerald's side entered the dressing room with a point to spare, and a lot still left in the tank (1-5 to 1-4).
Bar Davey's initial showing, Aghada's Roisin Phelan was superb throughout at full-back and was easily the stand-out performer, with centre-back Roisin O'Sullivan, wing-back Jessica O'Shea and Duggan also putting in good performances.
The game certainly opened up in the second-half, but the aforementioned all made life difficult for Dublin upon the restart as Dublin only managed to score just three points in the second act. Two goal chances went abegging,with Intermediate club All-Ireland final player of the match winner Olivia Leonard of St Maur's missing an open goal chance with 10 minutes remaining, which would have tied the game at 1-6 a piece.
But, a huge point by substitute Doireann O'Sullivan in the following attack brought about that sinking feeling again for Dublin, as the UCC captain made an impressive return to intercounty football following a knee ligament injury, contributing two scores.
To top it all off, Niamh Cotter made a penalty count deep into injury time as substitute Grace Kearney was fouled inside the square. Kearney's return, and the impending return of Annie Walsh and Rhona Ni Bhuachalla bodes well for Fitzgerald, as they travel to Mayo on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Kerry ended Donegal’s winning streak with a one-point win in Rathmore (2-13 to 2-12), as the Kingdom picked up their first points of the season.
Mayo defeated Armagh 3-14 to 0-18 and Galway denied Monaghan 3-12 to 1-13.