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Cork under 16’s on cloud nine, after a thriller, in the rain

Cork under 16’s on cloud nine, after a thriller, in the rain.

By Fr Liam Kelleher.

Cork 4-7 Kerry 2-10

By any stretch of the imagination, Cork’s victory over Kerry, in the Munster under 16 final at rain soaked Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday last, was phenomenal. A quite an amazing statistic, that had escaped the notice of most observers, this was Cork’s 9th win, in a row, at this level and the 9 were against old rivals Kerry. Two years ago, Kerry put a stop to Cork’s bid for 8 in a row, at under 14 level, Kerry repeated the dose last year, before going on to win the All-Ireland and they had both panels available this year and went into the game as slight favourites. Cork did have the benefit, of a 3 point win over the Kingdom girls, in an earlier round of the competition at Ballincollig, but that was back in early May, on a day much more conducive to football. The torrential rain that fell before the game and in the early stages of the game made conditions very difficult, for both teams. Indeed the game could not have been played on too many pitches in Kerry on Saturday, so the Kerry Co Board deserve great credit, for putting the premier ground in the Co, at the disposal of the Munster council and both teams, for this prestigious game. I know the players and mentors appreciated the gesture and the large gathering of spectators did, as they were protected from the elements in this fine stadium. Incidentally the crowd was, at least double, that of the Senior final, the previous week between the same counties. Naturally enough, with the atrocious conditions, players found it very difficult to cope and this was particularly true, for the opening half, when scores were at a premium and this was reflected in the low score for ladies football of 5 points a piece, at the short whistle. Cork had the more clear cut chances, for goals, but found the Kerry keeper Michelle O’Connor in superb form, the Cork points coming from Tara Maguire, Aine Cott, Brid O’Sullivan and Emily Phelan.Different story.

Mercifully the rain eased off a little at half time and the 2nd half was a crackling affair, with many twists and turns, but in the end, the desire of Cork, won the day, in an epic battle.

Kerry were first to lay down a marker when Cork lost possession midfield and they worked the ball superbly upfield, to garner a great goal, which gave keeper Fiona Cotter no chance. Cork immediately retaliated with a fine goal from Emily Phelan and this was followed by another afterwards from top scorer of the day Tara Maguire. Aine Cott who had caused havoc in the he previous encounter in May when she scored 2-8 of Cork’s 2-12 total, and Jessica O’Shea who caused huge problems on that occasion as well, were well marshalled on Saturday. Obviously Kerry had done their homework, on the pair and they did not enjoy the same latitude. But this gave an opportunity for others to step up to the mark and certainly Emily Phelan, Kate O’Brien and Tara Maguire did.

Suffered blow

Cork had suffered a blow after 10 minutes, when fullback Michelle Lucey, who had started, in the place of injured Lauren O’Callaghan, herself received a nasty facial injury and had to retire.

Her replacement, under 14 All-Ireland winner of 2 weeks before, Rachel O’Shea, came in and played a proverbial blinder, she with her rearguard colleagues, particularly in the fullback line Alana Barry and Alana Allen, with keeperFiona Cotter, did tremendous work in the 2nd half, as did Jennifer Barry and Shauna Kelly, as Kerry bombarded them, with wave after wave of attack. Kerry did register a number of points, that gave them a slender lead, with ten minutes to go, but Kate O’Brien raised Cork spirits, when she was was at the end of another thrilling move to shoot to the net and the game was really in the melting pot. With time up on the clock Kerry came back for another goal that could have spelled the end for a lesser team. There had been a few injury stoppages, so Cork had still time to mount another attack. They did so, and with sparkling efficiency worked the ball all the way forward and Tara Maguire was at the end of the move of the game, to goal, this again gave the initiative to Cork with a 2 point advantage, with time running out. Cork weathered a few assaults and sub Jessica Sheehan, had the last say when she fired over another point to close out a famous win and 9 in a row. Brid O’Sullivan who did a colossal amount of grafting at midfield was named player of the match and a delighted capt Jessica O’Shea received the cup from Munster President Dan O’Mahony on behalf of her thrilled colleagues. With this victory, Cork will be firm favourites to go on and capture the All-Ireland title, which if it happens, will be the 3rd in 4 years. With Cork’s dominance at Senior level winning, 6 Munster titles in a row and the underage supply line continuing to flourish, Cork look set to be the dominant force in Munster Ladies football for the foreseeable future.


Cork ,Fiona Cotter (Inch Rovers), Alana Barry (Dromtarrife), Michelle Lucey (St Gabriels),, Alana Allen (Kinsale), Shauna Kelly (Ballydesmond), Emily Phelan (Carrigaline), 1-1 Jennifer Barry (Bride Rovers), Cliona Twohig (Castlemagner), Brid O Sullivan (Mourneabbey),0-1 Roisin Phelan (Aghada), Jess O Shea (Inch Rovers), Kate O Brien (Bantry), 1-0 Tara McGuire (Rosscarbery),2-2 Aine Cott (Castlemagner) 0-2 Katie O Dea (Dromtarriffe),Lauren O Callaghan (Nemo) Niamh Barry (Midleton), Marika Cottrell (Boherbue), Sarah Barry (Carrigaline), Meadhbh Flynn (Ballincollig), Rachel Barrett (Donoughmore), Jennifer O Leary (Ballincollig), Jess Sheehan (Kinsale), 0-1 Roisin O Mahony (Ballincollig), Amanda Budden (Nemo) Catherine O Sullivan (St Michaels), Cait Mennis (Rosscarbery), Ciara Spillane (Bantry), Jean O Sullivan (St Vals). Rachel O’Shea Beara, Laura Crowley Rockban. Jean O’Sullivan St Vals

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