Capital pain for Cork ladies footballers despite early gains in All-Ireland final

Early goal for Ephie Fitzgerald's side isn't enough to dethrone Dublin 
Capital pain for Cork ladies footballers despite early gains in All-Ireland final

Dublin’s Jennifer Dunne and Carla Rowe celebrate at the final whistle as the Cork players show their disappointment. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Dublin 1-10 Cork 1-5 

HEARTACHE for Cork as Dublin retained their TG4 All-Ireland ladies football championship at Croke Park.

The champions made if four in a row and overall were just about deserving winners despite the best efforts of a valiant Cork.

Credit must go to Ephie Fitzgerald's side who gave it everything and right up to half-time were well in contention.

But Cork can hold their heads up high, with impressive displays from the likes of Erika O'Shea and Ciara O'Sullivan, the rookie and the veteran among those who gave it everything over the hour.

Sadly the wait for Cork goes on to bring the Brendan Martin Cup back to Leeside, the last win coming in 2016.

Cork got off to a good start but after the first-half water break Dublin started to come more into the game and then went on to dominate the second-half.

Dublin's Sinead Aherne missed a free in the first minute but from the kick-out Cork got the start they wanted.

A brilliant run from Ciara O'Sullivan saw her play her sister Doireann and her pass found Aine O'Sullivan in space to find the back of the net with just two minutes gone.

Dublin regrouped with Nicole Owens opening their account but Cork were enjoying the better of the opening exchanges, with their defence leading by example.

Aine O'Sullivan got Cork's second point and with 11 minutes gone they made it 1-2 to 0-1, this time Doireann O'Sullivan and Melissa Duggan combining to play Orla Finn in.

Just before the water break, Cork were lucky twice as Dublin spurned two goal chances. The first from Carla Rowe was saved well by Martina O'Brien. The second saw Noelle Healy break through the Cork defence, but her low shot squirmed wide as O'Brien raced out to meet her.

Dublin were much better after the water break, with points from Sinead Aherne and Healy reducing the deficit. Aherne's point in the 18th minute was their first score since the third.

Both sides were guilty of some sloppy play, giving the ball away on a number of occasions, but just before half-time Finn was on target from a free to see Cork lead 1-3 to 0-3 at half-time.

They started to put massive pressure on the Cork defence, with corner-back Aoife Lane flying forward to get their fourth point. Five minutes after the restart and Dublin led for the first time.

Jennifer Dunne took on the Cork defence and played a great ball to Rowe who was fouled by O'Brien. Rowe picked herself up to coolly slot home the resultant penalty, to make it 1-4 to 1-3.

Dublin were now dominating in the middle third and Rowe was on target again, taking over the free kicking duties from Aherne, to increase their lead.

It took Cork 15 minutes to score in the second-half when a quick free from Saoirse Noonan found Ciara O'Sullivan as Dublin led 1-6 to 1-4 when the ref blew for the second-half water break.

Kate Sullivan increased their lead before Finn scored from a free, Cork's only score after the break. Sub Niamh Cotter added energy around the middle third but even half chances were hard-earned.

Nicole Owens increased the Dubs' lead, with Healy and Rowe scoring late on to complete a great weekend for the capital after the men's victory over Mayo on Saturday.

Scorers for Dublin: C Rowe 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-3 f), N Healy, N Owens 0-2 each, S Aherne (f), K Sullivan, A Kane 0-1 each.

Cork: A O'Sullivan 1-1, O Finn 0-3 (0-2 f), C O'Sullivan 0-1.

DUBLIN: C Trant; M Byrne, N Collins, A Kane; L Caffrey, S McGrath, S Goldrick; L Magee, J Dunne; N Healy, L Davey, C Rowe; S Aherne, N McEvoy, N Owens.

Subs: K Sullivan for S Aherne (h-t inj), S McCaffrey for N McEvoy, O Nolan for A Kane (both 47), C O'Connor for N Owens (58), S Aherne for L Davey (60).

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

Subs: N Cotter for E Kiely, (42), S O'Leary for O Finn, L Coppinger for S Noonan (53), A Kelleher for E Meaney, M Cahalane for S Kelly (both 59).

Referee: Jonathan Murphy, Carlow.

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