SAOIRSE Noonan and Sadhbh O’Leary put Galway to the sword as Cork claimed a third successive All-Ireland ladies minor A football crown on Monday.
Republic of Ireland soccer international Noonan, who plays with Cork City, bagged 3-4 and O’Leary added 2-3 as John Cleary’s charges cruised to a 19-point victory over Galway at O’Connor Park in Tullamore.In last year’s final victory over Dublin, Noonan collected 2-5 and O’Leary 0-5 as Cork retained the silverware.
And these special talents helped to secure the treble, in what was the third final meeting between the counties in four years.
It’s a tenth title in this grade for Cork and considering the quality of talent coming through, more good times lie in store for the county.
Cork began with five players who started in the 2016 final – including inside trio Grace Culloty, Noonan and O’Leary.
Captain Ciara Hughes and midfielder Ciara McCarthy were other survivors and Galway were simply outclassed by a formidable Cork outfit.
The Westerners were competitive in the early exchanges and level at 0-2 apiece before O’Leary netted in the 14th minute.
Cork would lead from there all the way to the finish – as Galway went from the ninth minute of first half until midway through the second period without a score.
Leanne Coen was denied a Galway goal in the 20th minute as back-tracking Sarah Leahy cleared the ball off the line.
And two goals in a minute from Noonan, who received the Republic of Ireland’s U17 International Player of the Year award in March, put this game to bed approaching half-time.
Both were carbon-copy strikes, as Noonan slotted the ball beneath Laura Hession in assassin-like style.
Those goals, in the 27th and 28th minute, propelled Cork into a 3-5 to 0-2 advantage – and they cruised home from there.
O’Leary collected her second goal with eight minutes left and while raised a consolation green flag for Galway in the 54th minute, there was still time for Noonan to complete her hat-trick.
It was another fine finish and fittingly, Noonan would have the last say with the final score of the game.
With the countdown clock at zero, the Nemo Rangers player sent a free over the bar with the outside of her right foot, another moment to showcase her outstanding individual talents.
Scorers for Cork – S Noonan 3-4 (0-2f), S O’Leary 2-3, A Healy 0-2, J Brewdinan & G Culloty 0-1 each.
Scorers for Galway – N Daly 1-0, L Coen 0-2 (1f), L Finnegan & A O’Donovan 0-1 each.
Cork – S Murphy; K Horgan, C O’Shea, S Leahy; E Kiely, J Brewdinan, C Hughes; C McCarthy, N Quinn; L O’Mahony, E Cleary, R Murphy; G Culloty, S Noonan, S O’Leary.
Subs – A Healy for Culloty (46), C Collins for Cleary (50), G Gould for O’Mahony (52), C Ryan for Murphy (53), A Kelleher for Quinn (54). S
Galway – L Hession; C Langan, K Screene, A Glynn; L Booth, B Quinn, A Molloy; A Coen, R Naughton; L Finnegan, N Daly, L Noone; L Coen, N Coleman, A O’Donovan.
Sub – A Trill for Coleman (17), M Mitchell for Langan (h.t.), G Sheridan for Booth (h.t.), C McCarthy for O’Donovan (40), N Daly for Noone (51).
Referee – S Mulvihill (Kerry).
By Jackie Cahill at O’Connor Park, Tullamore