Cork v Kilkenny: Heartbreak at Croke Park as late goal denies the Rebels

A Denise Gaule free and a Sophie Dwyer goal cost Cork the All-Ireland camogie crown after battling back from six points down
Cork v Kilkenny: Heartbreak at Croke Park as late goal denies the Rebels

Cork's Fiona Keating shoots from Michelle Teehan of Kilkenny. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Kilkenny 1-13 Cork 1-12 

AGONY for Cork as they lost out to an injury-time free from Denise Gaule in the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior final at Croke Park.

They didn’t deserve to lose and a draw would probably have been a fair result, with both sides enjoying their periods of dominance over the 60 minutes but a late goal proved to be the key moment. 

Sub Sophie Dwyer pounced on a batted clearance by scrambling Cork goalkeeper Amy Lee to strike the sliotar to the net in the closing stages to give the Cats a 1-12 to 1-11 advantage after the Rebels had dragged themselves into a two-point lead.

In the end, it was the slow start that cost Cork as they let Kilkenny build up a six-point lead before they got going. But with the likes of Ashling Thompson, Hannah Looney, Katrina Mackey and Fiona Keating upping their game Cork had it level by half-time and to their credit were a much-improved side in the second half.

It was score-for-score for most of that half and it took that injury-time free to separate the sides and make it a day of double agony for Cork, with the intermediate side also losing their final.

There were only 20 seconds on the clock when Kilkenny were in front, with Tiffanie Fitzgerald getting the opening score, before Katie Nolan added a second as the Cats were enjoying the better of the opening exchanges.

Cork thought they were off the mark when the umpire raised the white flag but Hawkeye intervened and Sorcha McCartan’s effort was deemed wide.

Kilkenny went further ahead when Miriam Walsh raised their third white flag after eight minutes as Cork were slow to settle, similar to the semi-final against Waterford.

Kilkenny's Michaela Kenneally with Ciara O'Sullivan of Cork at Croke Park on Sunday. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy
Kilkenny's Michaela Kenneally with Ciara O'Sullivan of Cork at Croke Park on Sunday. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

In the first 11 minutes, they had only one shot at the Kilkenny posts as Cork were finding it hard to get any sort of a foothold in attack.

Walsh was on target again and Gaule got in on the scoring act to make it 0-5 to no score, with 14 minutes played.

From the restart, she picked up the ball to score again before Cork had their second real chance. A great run by Mackey saw her brush aside several defenders before a last-ditch tackle from Grace Walsh denied her what looked like a certain goal.

With 20 minutes gone Cork had still to register a score and the Cats had five wides, as they could have been out of sight.

But a minute later Cork got the boost they needed with Keating racing through on goal to blast to the back of the net and the Rebels were up and running.

Michaela Kenneally got Kilkenny’s seventh point before Amy O’Connor raised Cork’s first white flag from a free, with 24 minutes played.

Again the Cats had another wide before O’Connor got her second, from another free as Cork upped their game and started to play much better.

By now Thompson and Looney were winning the midfield battle and Cork were unlucky not to be back on level terms, with another O’Connor effort going narrowly wide. With the last shot of the half Mackey was on target to see the sides level at the break with Cork starting to come more into the game, with the score at 1-4 to 0-7.

It took until the 35th minute before Cork went in front for the first time, with O’Connor raising her third white flag from a free before Miriam Walsh levelled it again a minute later.

Another free from Nolan put the Cats back in front before a great pass from Mackey set up Keating to point.

An inspirational point from out by the sideline from Mackey put Cork back in front with 40 minutes gone, as they led 1-7 to 0-9.

Kilkenny's Tiffanie Fitzgerald takes on Hannah Looney of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy
Kilkenny's Tiffanie Fitzgerald takes on Hannah Looney of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

Nolan split the posts from another free, but again the Rebels responded in style, this time Sorcha McCarthy scoring from distance to restore their slim lead.

Nolan replied at the other end, with O’Connor raising another white flag from a free as the Rebels led 1-9 to 0-11 with 47 minutes played.

Another Nolan free had the sides level again before the same player missed an easy free to put her side back in front. Looney put Cork back in front, with Emma Murphy – just on as a sub – going close to extending their lead.

O’Connor made it a two-point game when she pointed another free as Cork led 1-11 to 0-12, with five minutes to go.

Kilkenny missed another free before Sophie Dwyer, just on the pitch, struck a huge blow for her side.

Any Lee could only bat out a goalbound shot and she was first to react to the breaking ball to find the back of the net to put the Cats back in front, 1-12 to 1-11. Mackey levelled it and as the game headed into injury-time it was 1-12 apiece.

Kilkenny's Mary O'Connell battles Saoirse McCarthy of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy
Kilkenny's Mary O'Connell battles Saoirse McCarthy of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

Gaule put Kilkenny back in front from a free as time was running out for the Rebels. They had one last chance for an equaliser but Thompson’s, who had been outstanding all through, effort went just wide and with that the ref blew the final whistle as the Rebels lost a game they at least deserved a draw from.

Scorers for Kilkenny: K Nolan 0-5 (0-3 f), D Gaule (0-1 f), M Walsh 0-3 each, S Dwyer 1-0, T Fitzgerald, M Kenneally 0-1 each.

Cork: F Keating 1-2, A O’Connor 0-5 f, K Mackey 0-3, H Looney, S McCarthy 0-1 each.

KILKENNY: A Norris; M Teehan, G Walsh, T Fitzgerald; N Deely, C Phelan, L Murphy; S Fitzgerald, K Power; D Gaule, M Kenneally, J Malone; M O’Connell, M Walsh, K Nolan.

Subs: S Dwyer for M Kenneally (47), A Prendergast for M O’Connell (53).

CORK: A Lee (Na Piarsaigh); M Murphy (Ballinora), L Coppinger (St Colums), M Cahalane (St Finbarr’s); L Hayes (St Catherines), L Tracey (Killeagh), S McCarthy (Courcey Rovers); H Looney (Killeagh), A Thompson (Milford); K Mackey (Douglas), F Keating (Courcey Rovers), C Sigerson (Killeagh); C O’Sullivan (Newcestown), S McCartan (St Finbarr’s), A O’Connor (St Vincent’s).

Subs: E Murphy (Glen Rovers) for S McCartan (50), C Healy (Aghabullogue) for M Murphy (53), O Cahalane (St Finbarr’s) for C Sigerson (58).

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).

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