A GREAT result for Cork as they got their Lidl Ladies NFL campaign off to a winning start over Mayo at the Connacht Centre of Excellence yesterday.
Cork started with just six of the side that lost to Mayo in the All-Ireland championship last year, showing the changes in the squad from last then.
Just Meabh O’Sullivan, Eimear Meaney, Melissa Duggan, Sarah Leahy, Libby Coppinger and Rachel Leahy faced them last year.
And credit must go to their young players, with the likes of Aoife Healy, Dara Kinry, Abigail Ring, Rachel Leahy outstanding on the day.
Cork won’t be getting carried away but it was a huge confidence boost to these players and the whole squad and gave them a bit of revenge over the side that knocked them out of the championship last year.
Despite playing against the wind Cork got off to much better start and dominated for long periods of the first half.
They moved the ball with pace from defence to attack and Mayo looked almost surprised at the pace and intensity of their play.
Ring opened the scoring two minutes in and her Cloyne clubmate, Healy doubled Cork’s advantage.
Even at this early stage, it could have been more but for a few poor wides from Cork.
Ring got Cork’s third from a free before scores from Libby Coppinger and Healy made it 0-5 to no score with 18 gone.
Mayo finally got off the mark with 20 minutes gone when Tara Needham raised a white flag, but Cork continued to dominate.
Another defensive mistake from Mayo saw Melissa Duggan b pounce and she found the back of the net, to make it 1-5 to 0-1.
Daire Kiely increased Cork’s lead, before Mayo had their first goal chance, with Meabh O’Sullivan saving superbly to deny Rachel Keans.
But Kearns did get the last score of the half as Cork were comfortable leaders at the break by 1-6 to 0-2.
As expected Mayo were always going to come out strong on the resumption and no doubt there were a few choice words in their dressing room at half-time.
An early point from Shauna Howley saw Mayo raise their third white flag, with Hannah Looney and Kiely responding for the Rebels.
Mayo then had their best spell of the game with three more from Howley, along with a point from Lisa Cafferkey making it 0-7 to 1-8 and it could have been closer were it not for another great save from O’Sullivan.
Rachel Leahy pointed for Cork, with Maria Cannon scoring for the home side, before O’Sullivan made another superb save, this time denying Needham.
Katie Quirke stretched Cork’s lead and with five minutes to go they were 1-11 to 0-8 in front.
But two points from Howley, along with scores from Cannon and Cafferkey had it down to a two-point game going into the final minutes.
Huge credit to Cork they finished strongly and held on to the ball for two minutes and at the end Quirke raised their second green flag as the Rebels ran out deserving winners to take the points.
S Howley 0-6 (0-3 f), M Cannon (f), L Cafferkey 0-2 each, T Needham, R Kearns 0-1 each.
K Quirke 1-1, M Duggan 1-0, D Kiely 0-3, A Ring (0-1 f), A Healy 0-2 each, L Coppinger, H Looney, R Leahy 0-1 each.
L Brennan; É Ronayne, R Flynn, D Caldwell; C Needham, F McHale, K Sullivan; C McManamon, H Reape; E Reape, S Cafferky, S Howley; M Cannon, T Needham, R Kearns.
L Cafferkey for E Reape (h-t), L Wallace for C Needham, S Tierney for H Reape, M Reilly for T Needham (all 54).
M O’Sullivan; S Kelly, E Meaney, D Kiniry; A Healy, H Looney, M Duggan; S Leahy, E O’Shea; E Cleary, R Leahy, D Kiely; L Coppinger, E Kiely, A Ring.
L O’Mahony for S Leahy (h-t), A O’Mahony for D Kiely, K Quirke for E Kiely (both 42), S McGoldrick for D Kiniry, A Ryan for M Duggan, B O’Sullivan for A Ring (all 57), E Jack for E O’Shea (59).
Shane Curley, Galway.