Confident Cork crush Mayo dream

Confident Cork crush Mayo with dream
football By Fr Liam Kelleher


Cork Ladies Football All-Ireland Final. Cork 2-11
Mayo 2-6

Cork’s reputation as a sporting power, which had taken a severe
buffeting in recent weeks, rose Phoenix like from the ashes, when
the rebel treble lady footballers crushed Mayo to bring home the
Brendan Martin cup to Leeside for the 3rd year in a row. Deep down
the pressure must have been enormous, to deliver, but this fantastic
group of girls, have proved, if indeed proof was needed, to deliver
for the county when the need was greatest. What we witnessed in
Croke Park was magic, apart from the history achieved. Cork produced
a brand of total football, never seen on the big stage before in
ladies football and rarely witnessed in mens.

From the off, when they raced into a 4 point lead, Corks dominance
was there for friend and foe, to marvel at, and they never let up
until virtually the final whistle. Leading by 12 points with a few
minutes to go and giving more of the fantastic panel a run out in
Croke Park Park, they conceded 2 goals in the final minute to ease
the pain of Mayo’s impending annihilation. Charismatic captain for
the 3 years, Juliet Murphy with, the cup safely back on the Cork
bus was a proud and relieved young lady, having laid it on the line
leading up to the game that they had to beat Mayo to gain a full
measure of respectability for their achievements.

Confident bus driver Cormac O’Connor, who had been ferrying the
girls around since the start of the year, was really on the ball,
if you pardon the pun, rolled out the sticker for the front of the
Cork bus proclaiming, “Cork All-Ireland champions 05,06 07, it was
a lovely touch. The strains of Simply the best blared out over the
loud speakers and for once nobody could quibble with this. Mind
you the Cork panel spent all of 15 minutes in, almost harmonious
singing, in the dressing room, after coming back from the field
of fulfilled dreams, much to the amusement of waiting media personnel
anxious to get the inside story to meet their deadlines.

The buzz word around was “plan” what was the plan. A bemused coach
Eamon Ryan hardened with years of coaching in his school and club
in Watergrasshill and with Na Piarsaigh and Cork Senior footballers
among others, mused ‘what plan we played the way know best, with
passion and intensity and left the opposition to their own devices,
the players are intelligent enough to execute their own plan and
adjust as the need arises” they surely did that to perfection. Spare
a thought. Cork did have to plan without the Senior of their side
Mary O’Connor cruelly ruled out of the final with a knee injury,
no doubt she was the extra person in the players plan. Cork’s bench
is frighteningly strong and in for Mary came the most bedecked player
of the modern era in ladies football at 18 years of age Amanda Murphy.
While Mary was in line to play in her 14th, all-ireland final Amanda
was in line to collect her 16th, All-Ireland medal scary stuff indeed.

Manager Mary Collins summed it all up nicely “ we achieved what
we set out to achieve it is a simple and that”. not a mention of
the plan. So back to the game itself Cork thundered into the game
from the off and with points from Amanda Murphy, Deirdre O’Reilly,
Juliet Murphy and Geraldine O’Flynn leaving Cork 4 points to the
good after the first quarter. Mayo were shell shocked, but they
had a mini revival before the break reducing the gap when the defining
score of the half came. Norita Kelly had wandered into the full
forward line which is very unaccustomed for her, she was bearing
down on goal, her knee which had been a cause of concern gave way
colliding with the full back, the referee deemed a foul had been
committed and awarded a penally. Valerie Mulcahy dispatched it to
net with clinical efficency. This was a huge body blow to Mayo who
had fought back to 3 points of Cork, now the difference was 6 as
the half-time hooter sounded.

Apart from the industry of the midfield pairing and the opportunism
of the forwards the work rate and covering of the defence was phenomenal,
they never allowed Mayo to settle on the ball and never gave Mayo
danger woman , Cora Staunton an inch. The odds seemed to be stacked
firmly against Brid Stack, when she had the responsibility of shackling
Miss Staunton but she rose to the occasion to earn player of the
match title and that says it all. Out of reach. As bad as the blow
Mayo suffered just before the break, a virtually fatal one was inflicted
on them, when Valerie Mulcahy again, found the net, after a precision
pass from Laura McMahon, who received the ball from Rhona Buckley
With the departure of Norita Kelly Cork had to rejig their formation
with Minor starlet Rhona Buckley being introduced. Deirdre O’Reilly
moved to midfield and Cork’s aim was to maintain what they had.
They did this with brilliant defending, the full line of Angela
Walsh back to her imperious best with her sister Ciara playing a
stormer, Rena Buckley was simply Rena, intelligent, composed and
efficient in everything she did.

Newcomer to the team Linda Barrett slotted in well in the half line,
while Briege Corkery as usual ran herself to a standstill, but they
got huge assistance from Juliet, Deirdre and Nollaig Cleary and
Geraldine O’Flynn coming back to help out as the need arose. The
net result of all this was Mayo were limited to just 2 points for
27 minutes of the half and huge credit too must go to keeper Elaine
Harte who made 2 breathtaking saves. Cork tagged on points from
Amanda Murphy 2 who had moved ot centre forward, Geraldine O’Flynn
2, Nollaig Cleary and Juliet Murphy to push Cork’s total to 2-11,
12 clear of Mayo with the clock showing 3 minutes left Diane O’Hora
added a point for the Mayo girls and then a clearly rattled Cora
Staunton blasted a 15 metre free to the net inside the last minute
after a surging run from full back Helena Lohan earned the free.
Miss Lohan collected again from the kickout and her shot was parried
by Elaine Harte but Fiona McHale, was on hand to find the net, to
give the score an air of respectability.

The hooter again sounded on the kickout and the three in a row dream
had been achieved. In summary Cork were extremely confident in all
they did, they ran with poise, passed with precision, tackled like
demons and supported each other with an intense passion that Mayo
could not cope with. Referee Eugene O’Hare handled the game with
his customary efficiency, allowing play to flow. The Brendan Martin
cup was accepted on behalf of the Cork team by captain Juliet Murphy
and Mary O’Connor.

Cork scorers Scorers: Juliet Murphy 0-1, Geraldine O Flynn 0-3,
Nollaig Cleary 0-2, Valerie Mulcahy 2-1, Deirdre O Reilly 0-1, Amanda
Murphy 0-3

The attendance of 21,000 was 4,000 down on last year, with Leitrim
the Intermediate champions appearing to have the biggest following
on the day, they too reached the promised land making up for the
disappointment of last year. Kilkenny too made history in the Junior
with their first title, and they defeated a gallant, London coached
by Johnny Wilson with Clonakilty native Larry O’Leary part of his

Cork: Elaine Harte(Rockban), Ciara Walsh(Inch Rovers), Angela Walsh(Inch
Rovers), Rena Buckley(Donoughmore), Linda Barrett(Donoughmore),
Brid Stack(Rockchapel), Briege Corkery(St Vals), Juliet Murphy(Donoughmore),
Norita Kelly(Rockchapel), Geraldine O Flynn(Rockchapel), Laura McMahon(Rosscarbery),
Nollaig Cleary(Gabriel Rangers), Valerie Mulcahy(Rockban), Mary
O Connor(Inch Rovers), Deirdre O Reilly(Rockchapel), Claire O Donoughue(Beara),
Sinead O Reilly(Rockchapel), Amanda Murphy(Beara), Mairead Kelly(Rockchapel),
Rhona Buckley(Ballingeary/Inchigeela), Regina Curtin(Rockchapel),
Catriona Foley(Rockban), Norma Kelly(Rockchapel), Fiona Crowley(St
Vals), Anne MArie Walsh(Inch Rovers), Amy O Shea(Inch Rovers) Anita
Thompson(Ballingeary/Inchigeela), Caoimhe Creedon(St Vals)

Manager Mary Collins, Coach Eamonn Ryan, Selectors Frank Honohan,
Jim McEvoy, Ger Twomey, Physio Michael Cotter, Doctor Dr Lucy Fleming.

The homecoming.

After a very enjoyable banquet at City West which ended for most
at dawn, there was a visit to Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin. The
long journey home was by coach with a stop in Wategrasshill where
Eamon Ryan was teacher and Principal for many years it was on to
Cork for a tremendous reception. People had been gathering since
6.30pm and while they waited there was plenty of time to soak up
the atmosphere. What a cheer echoed round the are when the bus came
into view. A brief pause when Paschal Sheehy interviewed Juliet
Murphy and Valerie Mulcahy for the 9.Clock news and then all made
their way to the stage. Speeches were brief and of course complimentary
of the wonderful achievement of 3 in a row. Co Mayor Councillor
Tom Sheehan stated they were a credit to Cork. Co GAA chairman Mick
Dolan, who has been a great fan and supporter of Ladies Football
down through the years when it was not fashionable to do so marvelled
at the skills the girls displayed in Croke Park. Nex up was Manager
of the 3 for the 3 ina row Many Collins who thanked her players
and staff for their wonderful dedication and urged the many young
people in the audience to practice hard. Enigmatic and much respected
coach Eamon Ryan was brief as usual, in his heartfelt thanks.

The loudest cheer was reserved for capt for the 3 years Juliet Murphy
of Donoughmore again she paid tribute to a fantastic bunch of girls
and management team. She then introduced all the players. Co Chairman
Tom Luddy congratulated all and thanked them. He also thanked all
those who have helped the Co Board especially, Castleands Construction
sponsors of Cork Ladies Football for their massive financial help
the biggest in ladies Sport in Ireland. The final word was left
to the Honourable Lord Mayor Councillor Donal Counihane, who arrived
from a meeting at the City Hall again he complimented all who had
brought such honour to Cork. Ample time was given to signing autographs
and mingling with the appreciative audience refreshment were served
at the imperial hotel. Bishop John Buckley a great supporter of
sport who arrived from Dublin was a welcome visitor. Next stop was
Donoughmore the home of Capt Juliet Murphy and team members Linda
Barrett, and Rena Buckley. There was a huge bonfire and a welcoming
crowd outside Rena Buckley’s house, in Berrings another at Creans
and Donoughmore and a huge crowd greeted them in Stuake.

Ger Walsh club chairman introduced the players and stated Donoughmore
was so proud of their achievements. Juliet Murphy and Mary Collins
offered thanks and urged the children to practice hard and some
day some of them would be on the stage receiving a similar welcome.
A huge ovation awaited Frankie Honohan who has been Donoughmore’s
selector for the Cork team for the past 5 years. Regina Curtin and
Rena Buckley led the singing for this musical bunch more roun ds
of autographs and chats and a long night of celebration which will
go on for many days to come. Perfect year. The show is not over
yet The Senior B team play Dublin in the All-Ireland final at Toomevara
in Tipperary at 1.30pm on Sunday and they will be hoping to make
it a near perfect year for the Rebelettes. Already the Minors and
the under 16’s have captured all-Ireland titles.

Talking to Peter O’Leary and Noel O’Connor at the homecoming they
are under no illusions about the huge task facing them. True they
defeated Dublin by 5 points in an earlier round but they were quick
to point out that Dublin have added a number of players to their
panel Cork have worked hard all the year in a competition for the
Aisling McGing cup, that started back in February, a win would bring
a fitting conclusion to a memorable year at Inter-Co level.

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