WHEN it comes to ladies football, clashes don’t come any bigger than Cork v Dublin.
Tomorrow night, throw-in 7.30pm, they will meet again in the Lidl NFL Division 1 final at Croke Park.
To say these two have dominated the game since 2005 is a bit of an understatement. Since then only these two have won the championship and only Monaghan have broken their stranglehold on the league title since 2008.
Monaghan won it in 2012 but other than them it has been Cork or Dublin all the way, with the Rebel county more dominant in the league.
Cork won the league title every season, from 2013 to 2019, except for 2018 when Dublin took the honours.
The Rebels have won the title on 12 occasions overall and will be appearing in their 15th final, whilst Dublin are in search of their second title.
But Dublin will still start as firm favourites, despite Cork’s dominance in the past. The Dubs are now the top side in the game, with all others doing their best to catch up and Cork are probably the closest side to them in that regard.
And if their recent group stage meeting is anything to go by then this should be a top-class game. At half-time Cork looked as if they were heading for a heavy defeat but rallied in the second half and it was only the width of the post that denied them what would have been a well-deserved draw.
A shot from Emma Cleary that would go over the bar, nine times out of 10 clipped the post and rebounded back into play to deny Cork the draw they deserved on a final scoreline of Cork 4-11, Dublin 3-15.
Cork captain Martina O’Brien said it’s great to look back on games like that, but at the time you don’t like to see goals go flying past you as a keeper. She doesn’t expect tomorrow’s decider to be as open as both sides will have worked on their defensive set-up since.
For those watching on TV it was a great game to look at, but when you are playing you don’t like to see as many goals as that being scored.
"Looking back it was a cracking game but I don’t think it will be as open tomorrow night.
“Both sides will have been working on their defensive game since then and I expect it to be a tighter affair this time. There were a lot of mistakes made that night which led to lots of scores and hopefully we won’t make as many this time.
One of the players Cork will need to keep an eye on is Hannah Tyrrell, who hit 2-7 in their league encounter.
“She is a massive asset to them having come into the panel this season. Coming from a professional rugby background is a huge advantage to Hannah and she tore into us the last day. If I had a step ladder I wouldn’t have been able to stop one of the goals she scored.
I think in players like Hannah you are trying to limit the damage they do, rather than trying to stop them, but she is not the only threat Dublin have.
“We have been concentrating on our own game though and it’s all about us and how we perform on the night. That’s where our focus is and where it has to be. We have been progressing all through the league and working hard in training to try and get that little bit extra to get us over the line.
“They have had the upper hand on us in the big games, we have beaten them in some ties, but in the big games they have come out on top and our aim is to turn that around.”