Corks dramatic win over Dublin

Cork 2-14

Dublin 3-10

The TG4 All-Ireland ladies football champions Dublin lost their crown in dramatic circumstances at Birr on Saturday as Cork, who won the title five times in a row from 2005-09, produced an amazing comeback to win by a point.

With 16 minutes left, Dublin led by 3-10 to 2-7, but seven unanswered points from the Rebels saw them over the line to reach the last four and leave them firm favourites to regain their title.

For the bulk of the first half, Dublin were excellent, crowding out the Cork attack to deny them space while at the other end their shooting was deadly accurate, with no wide registered by the Leinster side until the 27th minute.

In contrast, Cork were finding it difficult to register scores, only scoring once from play before the 29th minute, but amazingly they still managed to lead by a point, 1-6 to 0-8, at half-time.

Full-forward Sinead Aherne had been excellent for Dublin, scoring six first-half points, while Cork’s troubles were heightened by the loss of Valerie Mulcahy to a yellow card in the 12th minute, but just before she was due to return, Dublin lost Niamh McEvoy, who had been excellent alongside Denise Masterson in midfield.

With the extra numbers, Cork began to play, Rhona Ní Bhuachalla with a fine point before Mairead Kelly found the net with a looping shot over Cliodhna O’Connor. Nollaig Cleary added another to put Cork two ahead, though Aherne’s free cut the gap to the minimum at half-time.

The start to the second half was manic, however, as first Noelle Healy and then Aherne both scored goals in the opening two minutes to turn the game, though Ní Bhuachalla responded with a Cork goal at the other end to leave it 2-8 to 2-6 for Dublin.

Lyndsey Davey extended the lead, but in the 39th minute Cork got a great chance to equalise when Grace Kearney was fouled in the large rectangle. Mulcahy’s penalty hit the post and bounced across goal and wide, however, and the extent of the miss was magnified when Davey struck for a goal moments later, her shot to the roof of the net giving Elaine Harte no chance.

After Juliet Murphy and Healy exchanged points, it was 3-10 to 2-7 but slowly Cork began to get on top, coming at Dublin in waves as the reigning champions’ early intensity began to catch up on them.

Two from Mulcahy and then one by Healy left a goal in it, and while Dublin were trying to defend doggedly, they could not withstand the siege. An excellent point by corner-back Deirdre O’Reilly on 55 cut the lead to two, then Mulcahy pointed again before Ní Bhiuachalla levelled.

The momentum was firmly with the Rebels now and the comeback was completed in the 57th minute when Murphy scored her fifth point, Cork playing keep-ball in the closing stages to run out the clock and claim a semi-final spot.

Scorers for Cork: J Murphy 0-5 (0-4f), R Ni Bhuachalla 1-2, V Mulcahy 0-4 (0-2f), M Kelly 1-0, A O’Shea, O Finn, N Cleary 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dublin: S Aherne 1-6 (0-4f), N Healy 1-2, L Davey 1-1, E Kelly 0-1.

CORK: E Harte; Anne Marie Walsh, Angela Walsh, D O’Reilly; B Corkery, B Stack, G O’Flynn; J Murphy, R Buckley; N Cleary, M Kelly, G Kearney; V Mulcahy, R Ní Bhuachalla, A O’Shea.

Subs: A Hutchings for O’Flynn, N Kelly for M Kelly, O Finn for Cleary (all 46), Annie Walsh for Stack (49), A Sheehan for O’Shea (53).

DUBLIN: C O’Connor; G O’Malley, J O’Sullivan, S Goldrick; G Fay, S Furlong, A McKenna; D Masterson, N McEvoy; N Healy, E Kelly, L Peat; L Davey, S Aherne, A Ring.

Subs: A McGuinness for Ring, S McGrath for McKenna (both half-time), S Finnegan for McEvoy (42), McKenna for Peat (56), S Woods for Healy (59).

Referee: J Niland (Sligo).

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