EPHIE Fitzgerald’s Cork won the battle of the All-Ireland finalists from the last three seasons to collect two valuable points in Division 1 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League.
On home soil in Mallow, Cork ran out 2-11 to 1-8 winners against visitors Dublin, a result that makes up for the surprise defeat to Armagh in round 2.
Cork, aiming for a fifth successive League crown, made it two wins from three in the group stages as All-Star Orla Finn helped herself to 1-7, all from frees.
Dublin got off to a brilliant start with an early goal from Lyndsey Davey but that was cancelled out by Finn’s goal midway through the half, an effort that handed the Rebelettes a 1-3 to 1-1 lead.
At half-time, Cork were ahead by just a single point, 1-5 to 1-4, but Dublin struggled to reel in the winners and Niamh Cotter netted a late penalty to make sure of the victory for Fitzgerald’s charges.
After two victories, this was Dublin’s first defeat of the season and at the end of round 3, four teams are locked together on six points – Dublin, Cork, Donegal and Galway.
Donegal also lost for the first time in the League campaign as Kerry held on for a 2-13 to 2-12 victory in Rathmore.
Donegal led by 1-10 to 1-6 at half-time but were caught after the break by a dogged Kerry, who won their first League game of the season.
Donegal held an early 0-4 to 0-0 lead but Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s eighth-minute goal ignited the Kerry challenge.
Kerry pushed 1-4 to 0-5 clear but Paula McCrory’s goal hauled Donegal back into contention – and the visitors led by four points at the interval.
Kerry dominated the early second half exchanges but Donegal weathered the storm and Roisin Friel set lethal forward Geraldine McLaughlin clear for a counter-attack goal midway through the half.
A McLaughlin free had Donegal 2-11 to 1-9 in front but leading scorer Sarah Houlihan (0-8) steadied Kerry with a brace of points.
Donegal still looked comfortable but their challenge unravelled down the home straight as Ciara Hegarty was sent to the sin-bin before Kerry hit an unanswered 1-2 to seal the win, Laura Rogers scoring a priceless goal with two minutes left.
At Clonmore, Mayo finally got off the mark as Cora Staunton and Sarah Rowe bagged 3-11 between them in a 3-14 to 0-18 victory over home side Armagh.
At half-time, Staunton’s goal had Mayo in contention as they trailed by just a point, 1-6 to 0-10, against Aimee Mackin-inspired Armagh.
Mackin would finish with nine points for Armagh, including seven from play, but she also missed some chances in a well-contested game.
Rowe netted twice in the second half for Mayo as the Westerners, beaten League finalists last year, finally got off the mark this season.
And in Clones, Galway moved into contention with an impressive 3-12 to 1-13 victory over hosts Monaghan.
Goals from leading scorer Roisin Leonard (1-7), Lucy Hannon and Dora Gorman helped the Tribeswomen to secure a second victory from three League outings.
At half-time, the sides were level at 1-6 apiece – Gorman and Monaghan’s Laura McEnaney trading goals – before Galway pulled away.
Monaghan’s goal was a scruffy effort as the ball ping-ponged in the Galway goalmouth – but McEnaney was credited with the final touch.
Leonard’s second half goal had Galway in control and Monaghan suffered a blow when McEnaney was sin-binned for a clash with Sinead Burke, before Hannon’s cracking late goal sealed it for the Westerners.
In Division 2, there were wins on the road for Laois, Cavan and Westmeath, as Sligo defeated last year’s Division 3 champions Waterford at home.
In Division 3, Tipperary continued their impressive start to the season with victory over Down maintaining the Premier County’s 100 per cent start.
Offaly had a point to spare against Leitrim, Roscommon drew with Meath and Wexford beat Limerick.
And in Division 4, Louth, Longford, Wicklow and Carlow collected maximum points from their fixtures.
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1
Cork 2-11 Dublin 1-8
Armagh 0-18 Mayo 3-13
Monaghan 1-13 Galway 3-12
Kerry 2-13 Donegal 2-12
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 2
Clare 0-12 Laois 2-14
Kildare 1-11 Cavan 1-17
Tyrone 1-10 Westmeath 3-8
Sligo 2-7 Waterford 0-11
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3
Tipperary 5-14 Down 0-3
Offaly 2-13 Leitrim 4-3
Wexford 4-13 Limerick 3-3
Roscommon 2-9 Meath 1-12
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 4
Louth 2-8 Antrim 1-8
Longford 0-36 Derry 1-3
Fermanagh 1-6 Wicklow 3-17
Carlow 5-20 Kilkenny 2-4
Compiled by Jackie Cahill