Cork 0-15 Kilkenny 1-11
IN dramatic style Cork dethroned the All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in Croke Park, setting up a clash with Galway in two weks.
Fittingly, Cork’s captain Linda Collins, a late sub, scored the winning point after a pulsating second half.
It was as good a first half from Cork as we’ve seen. Kilkenny tried to create space inside, take on Cork’s full-back line and go for the jugular from the outset. But from the second minute when Amy Lee blocked down Aoife Doyle and Laura Hayes and co blocked the follow-through, Cork lay down a marker.
Saoirse McCarthy got Cork on the scoresheet after just 28 seconds and the Rebels held the lead until the 45th minute. Cork’s entire defence was exceptional, their tracking, blocking, support play, and distribution, superb. Ashling Thompson and Hannah Looney were supporting both ends of the pitch, Looney highly influential, and Kilkenny couldn’t cope with the movement of Cork’s half-forward line.
Chloe Sigerson was back to her brilliant best. When on song, her long-distance point scoring has no equal. Cork always seemed to have a free player off their shoulder as they ran Kilkenny ragged. Inside Katrina Mackey and Colette Dormer were having a right battle.
Mackey and Amy O’Connor were alternating but O’Connor was often hindered in making bursts by consistent jersey pulling, something which the umpires should have brought to referee John Dermody’s attention on a number of occasions.
Cork’s work rate up front was as good as it was defensively and they were full value for their five-point lead at the break, Five points down Kilkenny had to go for broke in the second half. Denise Gaule pointed a free, cancelled out with an Orla Cronin forty-five on thirty-seven minutes.
But by the fiftieth minute Cork had scored just one further point as Kilkenny dominated with the wind at their backs.
Libby Coppinger at full back was having a storming game but Kilkenny are goal conditioned, and they kept trying to break Cork down. Their efforts were rewarded when Miriam Walsh put Mary O’Connell through, and she blasted the net on 44. The game was level for the first time a minute later after Denise Gaule converted a free.
Cronin pointed a free. Three points in a row between the 50th and 53rd minute and Kilkenny went two up. It was a nervous time. Now Cork had to answer the call.
Orla Cronin pointed another free. The final minutes brought huge drama. On 57, Linda Collins put Katrina Mackey through on goal. It was blocked.
Fiona Keating pointed the return to level it and Orla Cronin was sent to the line for an off-the-ball offence. It was a humdinger. Linda Collins who had made her entrance on 50 minutes was prominent and it was her brilliant point on sixty-three for Cork which was the deciding factor.
It was a game Cork deserved to win, showing great character after being five up, going two down, to come back and get through.
In the other semi-final, Galway had a 1-13 to 0-12 win over a Tipperary side that made them fight all the way. Tipperary will have a lot of regrets in a game they could have won with plenty possession but at times taking the wrong option in front of goal. There was just two points in it when goalkeeper Caoimhe Bourke dropped a seemingly harmless delivery into the net in the blinding sun and their challenge was over.
C Sigerson 0-5 (0-1 f), O Cronin 0-6 (0-4 f, 0-1 ‘45), S McCarthy 0-1, K Mackey, F Keating, L Collins 0-1 each.
D Gaule 0-7 (f), M O’Connell 1-0, K Power 0-2, K A Doyle, K Nolan 0-1 each.
A Lee; P Mackey, L Coppinger, M Cahalane; S McCarthy, L Treacy, L Hayes; H Looney, A Thompson; C Sigerson, F Keating, C O’Sullivan; A O’Connor, O Cronin, K Mackey.
L Collins for C O’Sullivan (50).
A Norris; M Teehan, C Phelan, D Tobin; K A Doyle, M Farrell, C Dormer; S Fitzgerald, G Walsh; D Gaule, M O’Connell, K Power; K Nolan, M Walsh, A Doyle.
L Murphy for S Fitzgerald (38), N Deely for M Teehan (48), M Kenneally for A Doyle (55).
John Dermody (Westmeath)