A VERY comfortable opening round win for Cork in the Very Ireland National League Division 1A tie in MTU on Saturday.
Cork weren’t really tested throughout and were full value for their win, leading at half time 2-11 to 0-1. While Dublin did provide a stronger challenge in the third quarter they failed to get any return and once Cork weathered that patch they moved back into the driving seat with three points in a row between the 43rd and 46th minutes.
From the start, Dublin opted to bring full forward Muireann Kelleher back as a floating defender and that didn’t help their cause. Cork had the wind and they bypassed Dublin’s seventh defender which nullified her impact, while up front Dublin were never going to make headway against a seasoned Cork side down an inside player.
Featuring 10 of last September’s All-Ireland final starting 15 Cork worked the ball out of defence skilfully and then let a fast ball into their forwards.
Their first goal came on five minutes. Fiona Keating passed to running midfielder Chloe Sigerson who offloaded to Amy O’Connor, and she finished from an acute angle.
Five minutes later the second goal came. Cliona Healy, often playing deep from her left half-forward slot, took a short pass from Amy Lee. Her delivery was to Orlaith Cahalane. She passed inside to Katrina Mackey who hit the net from close range.
Debutant Aoife Healy from Aghada was thrown into the pit of the action taking the right half-back slot. She’s the only addition to the 2023 panel. Laura Treacy was an absentee and Orla Cronin, Ashling Thompson and Olivia McAllen remain injured.
Dublin looked a young inexperienced side and physically were no match for Cork. Cork’s intermediate player from 2022 Kate Kilcommins lined out in blue, now working in Dublin, but remains with her club Ballyhea.
The home side kept the scoreboard busy with seven players hitting the mark in the opening half, Dublin’s only score coming from Aishling Maher and she finished with four of her sides total of five points.
Both sides made a number of substitutions, Katrina Mackey going off after a knock to the back and Emma Murphy and Hannah Looney replacing Orlaith Cahalane and Sorcha McCartan at half time.
Dublin, with the wind having picked up and now in their favour, produced a more collaborated game in the second half. But they continued with Muireann Kelleher playing a defensive role. They were unlucky not to hit the net at the start but Lee made a point-black save from Maher. A few further strikes fell into the hands of Lee or went wide of the post.
Cork went 2-14 to 0-1 ahead entering the final quarter. Maher pointed for Dublin before substitute Ali Smith got Cork’s third goal. Smith entered the fray on 40 minutes and on 48 hit the net after a great run in from the left wing from O’Connor. Emma Murphy followed it up with a point before Maher hit a free for Dublin. Hayes hit one for Cork, Maher and Aisling Whelan replied before Smith again split the posts.
Cork will have learned little but gave a number of their panel on the day a runout. Their second round is a home venue to Clare next Saturday.
A O’Connor 1-7 (0-3f), A Smith 1-1, K Mackey 0-1, L Hayes, S McCartan 0-2 each, F Keating, O Cahalane, C Healy, H Looney, E Murphy 0-1 each.
A Maher 0-4 (0-2f), A Whelan 0-1.
A Lee; A Egan, L Coppinger, M Cahalane; A Healy, P Mackey, L Hayes; S McCarthy, C Sigerson; C Healy, F Keating, S McCartan; K Mackey, A O’Connor, O Cahalane.
I O’Regan for K Mackey (inj 22), E Murphy for O Cahalane and H Looney for S McCartan (h-t), M Murphy for A Egan and A Smith for A Healy (40), K Wall for F Keating (44), C Finn for A O’Connor (48).
E Mooney; E O’Byrne, E O’Brien, A Ryan; K Kilcommins, C Gannon, H O’Dea; E Jamision Murphy, S Murphy; G O’Shea, G Couch, A Gannon; A O’Neill, M Kelleher, A Maher.
C Shanahan for E O’Byrne (13), E Baker for S Murphy (30), A Heffernan for A Gannon (44), A Whelan for H O’Dea (45), A Buckley and J O’Flynn for A O’Neill and G Couch (60).
Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny).