Cork v Kerry: Aine O'Sullivan inspires Rebels to Munster title in Killarney

The provincial competition hadn't been played since 2019
Cork v Kerry: Aine O'Sullivan inspires Rebels to Munster title in Killarney

Cork captain Maire O'Callaghan lifts the cup with her teammates after the TG4 Munster Senior Ladies Football Championship final in Killarney. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Cork 2-11 Kerry 1-9

CORK retained their Munster senior ladies football title after a hard-fought win over Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium.

In glorious sunshine in Killarney, the Rebels ensured the cup travelled back over the county bounds in a competition that was last played for in 2019.

Kerry are a much-improved side since then and it showed and it took all of Cork's know-how and experience to get over the Kingdom.

Cork’s Libby Coppinger is brought down by Ciara Butler of Kerry. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy
Cork’s Libby Coppinger is brought down by Ciara Butler of Kerry. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

As well as winning the Munster title it also gives them a boost for the All-Ireland series as it means they now face Donegal at home, rather than having to travel away to face Galway. Their other group game will see them take on Waterford again, with the venue for that to be confirmed.

Key to Cork’s win was the outstanding display from Aine O’Sullivan who drove them forward at every opportunity and was a constant thorn in the side of the Kerry defence.

She was backed up ty the likes of Orla Finn, Maire O’Callaghan, Roisin Phelan, Shauna Kelly and Eimear Meaney.

Kerry had the first real chance when Niamh Ni Chonchúir set up Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh but the normally accurate forward shot wide with the goal at her mercy.

The Kingdom took the lead five minutes in when captain Anna Galvin led by example to point from distance. Cork responded from the restart with Aine O’Sullivan setting up Orla to level it.

Cork’s Aine O’Sullivan with Emma Costello of Kerry in the Munster final in Killarney. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy
Cork’s Aine O’Sullivan with Emma Costello of Kerry in the Munster final in Killarney. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

But Kerry were enjoying the better of the opening exchanges and Ní Mhuircheartaigh put them back in front from a free as Cork were slow to settle.

With 10 minutes gone Cork had their first goal chance with Doireann O’Sullivan finding her sister Ciara on the run. Her pass played Finn in but Kerry keeper Ciara Butler was fast off her line to intercept the pass.

Libby Coppinger raised a white flag to see the sides level at 0-2 apiece before Cork took the lead for the first time.

With 12 minutes played Cork had a penalty after Butler fouled Coppinger with Emma Cleary coolly slotting home to make it 1-2 to 0-2.

Emma Cleary scores her Cork's first goal from a penalty past Kerry goalkeeper Ciara Butler. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Emma Cleary scores her Cork's first goal from a penalty past Kerry goalkeeper Ciara Butler. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Lorraine Scanlon raised a white flag for the home side with Aine O’Sullivan replying for the Rebels. Kerry had another goal chance, again shooting wide, their sixth at that point as they were wasting good opportunities.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh was on target again, with Aine O’Sullivan getting her second before Kerry found the back of the net.

Paris McCarthy, just on for the injured McGlynn, burst past several Cork players but Meabh O’Sullivan denied her with a superb save. However, Ní Mhuircheartaigh was first to the rebound to raise the green flag to make it 1-4 apiece.

A Doireann O’Sullivan free had Cork back in front, but again Kerry found themselves in on goal, with Roisin Phelan diving to deny Danielle O’Leary.

With two minutes to half-time Cork took a grip on the tie when Ciara O’Sullivan played Finn in and this time she made no mistake as she made it 2-5 to 1-4.

Finn raised the last white flag of the first half to see the Rebels lead by five points at the break. O’Leary raised the first of the second half but Cork were now starting to take over.

Doireann O’Sullivan restored the five-point lead from a free before Cork thought they had their third goal. Aine O’Sullivan found the back of the net but the referee pulled it back for a free out for a reason that only he knows.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh replied from another placed ball as Kerry tried to get back into the game and she hit the target again to make it 1-7 to 2-7 with 47 minutes gone.

With the crowd now swelling as more and more Kerry fans came in for the men’s game to follow they got behind their women’s side, helped by a great score from O’Leary to make it a two-point game.

But Cork kept their heads with Laura O’Mahony raising a white flag to make it 2-8 to 1-8.

Finn raised her third white flag with McCarthy replying to keep just a goal between them. Aine O’Sullivan stretched Cork’s lead with five minutes to go as Kerry pushed forward in search of scores.

But Cork were not going to be beaten with Rachel Leahy adding to their tally as the Rebels ran out deserving winners against a good Kerry side.

Scorers for Cork: O Finn 1-3, E Cleary 1-0 pen, A O’Sullivan 0-3, D O’Sullivan 0-2, L Coppinger, L O’Mahony, R Leahy each.

Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-4 (0-3 f), D O’Leary 0-2, A Galvin, L Scanlon, P McCarthy 0-1 each.

CORK: M O’Sullivan; R Phelan, E Meaney, S Leahy; M Duggan, M O’Callaghan, L O’Mahony; A Hutchings, S Kelly; E Cleary, C O’Sullivan, L Coppinger; Á O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, O Finn.

Subs: K Quirke for S Kelly (33), M Cahalane for A Hutchings, R Leahy for E Cleary (both 45), E Scally for D O’Sullivan (51), A O’Mahony for L O’Mahony (57).

KERRY: C Butler; C O’Brien, K Cronin, E Lynch; A O’Connell, E Costello, C Murphy; A Galvin (capt.), C Lynch; D O’Leary, N Carmody, L Scanlon; N Ni Chonchúir, E McGlynn, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.

Subs: P McCarthy for E McGlynn (22), M O’Connell for C O’Brien (ht), K Brosnan for N Ni Chonchuir (43), S O’Shea for A O’Connell (56),

Referee: Patrick Smith, Waterford.

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