Dublin cruise to All-Ireland Glory

Dublin cruise to All-Ireland Glory


Dublin 3-16

Tyrone 0-9

Sinead Aherne shot the lights out at Croke Park as Dublin finally captured the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies senior football championship after three previous final defeats.

The Sky Blues ran out comprehensive 16-point winners against first-time finalists Tyrone in front of 21,750 spectators at GAA HQ on Sunday.

The Jackies lost against Cork in last year’s decider and also finished runners-up against Galway in 2004 and Mayo in 2003.

But it was clear from the moment that Aherne opened the scoring with 37 seconds on the watch that there would be no denying Dublin on this occasion .

Manager Gerry McGill and his players were left devastated last September when Cork won a final that Dublin had dominated until the closing stages.

The pain was even more acute for Aherne, who missed a first half penalty, but the St Sylvester’s Allstar produced a stunning performance against Tyrone to banish any lingering memories from the 2009 decider.

The full-forward was simply sensational and finished with a personal tally of 2-7 to claim the player of the match award, a haul that included 2-4 from play.

Aherne’s movement was too much for her direct marker Maura Kelly, a fine defender in her own right, to cope with but overall, this was a superb Dublin performance.

From goalkeeper Cliodhna O’Connor, who was spot-on with her pinpoint kickouts, through to left corner forward Elaine Kelly, Dublin dominated proceedings and had this game wrapped up by half-time.

At the break, the Leinster champions, relegated from Division 1 of the Bord Gáis Energy National League earlier this year, led by 2-8 to 0-5 and the Brendan Martin Cup was theirs to lose.

There was no letting up in the second half as Dublin continued to display an incredible work-rate and appetite for the game that Tyrone could not match.

Their full-back line was rock solid and at midfield, captain Denise Masterson led by example with a display of boundless energy in both halves of the field.

In attack, five of Dublin’s six starting forwards were on target from play and while Mary Nevin may not have got on the scoresheet, the experienced Na Fianna star put in one hell of a shift.

One of the survivors from the 2003, 2004 and 2009 defeats, Nevin was called ashore with eight minutes to go and the look of joy on her face as she embraced manager McGill was one of the images of the season.

Tyrone, meanwhile, had emerged as one of the stories of the season after bouncing back from their Ulster championship defeat to Armagh to make it all the way to Croke Park.

Along the way, the Red Hands hit a combined 11-42 against Leitrim and Sligo before accounting for Cork, who had won the last five All-Ireland titles, in a remarkable quarter-final.

Tyrone then shook off Kerry after a replay but just when they needed it most, their form deserted them as stage-fright appeared to play a part in a below-par performance.

Midway through the first half, Tyrone were still in contention, trailing by 0-3 to 0-6, but Dublin then began to press home their superiority.

Their first goal arrived in the 16th minute, courtesy of hard-working centre forward, who would not be denied after Kelly had kept out her initial effort with a fine block.

On the follow-up, Lyndsey Davey rattled a shot off the crossbar before McGuinness followed up to bulge the Tyrone net.

By then, Tyrone had lost full-forward Sarah Connolly to a broken finger in the tenth minute and overall, it was a day when very little went right for the beaten finalists.

Cruising towards a comfortable half-time lead, Dublin made it a matchwinning one when Aherne scored a superb goal in the 27th minute.

Sorcha Furlong’s perceptive crossfield pass left Aherne one on one with Kelly and after selling the full-back a dummy, Aherne slipped a shot beneath Shannon Lynch and into the net.

Within eight minutes of the restart, Dublin were 14 points clear as Aherne took a pass from Elaine Kelly and slotted home her second goal.

With 20 minutes remaining, Dublin led by 16 points against shellshocked Tyrone and that’s the margin that would separate the two teams at the finish.

It could have been even more but with two minutes remaining, Tyrone netminder Lynch pulled off a fine save to deny Peat a fourth Dublin goal.

Scorers for Dublin: S Aherne 2-7 (0-3f), A McGuinness 1-3 (0-1f), L Davey & E Kelly 0-2 each, G Fay & L Peat 0-1 each.

Dublin – C O’Connor; R Ruddy, A Cluxton, M Kavanagh; S McGrath, S Furlong, G Fay; D Masterson, Niamh McEvoy (Parnells); M Nevin, A McGuinness, L Peat; L Davey, S Aherne, E Kelly. Subs: B Finlay for Kelly (46), N Hyland for Nevin (52), N Healy for McGuinness (56), Niamh McEvoy (St Sylvester’s) for Niamh McEvoy (57), C Barrett for Fay (57).

Scorers for Tyrone: G Begley 0-4 (2f), J Donnelly 0-3 (1f), C Donnelly & N Murphy 0-1 each.

Tyrone – S Lynch; E Teague, M Kelly, S McLaughlin; M Donnelly, N Woods, L Donnelly; S Donnelly, S Quinn; C Donnelly, G Begley, A O’Kane; C McGahan, S Connolly, J Donnelly. Subs: N Murphy for Connolly (inj, 14), R Rafferty for Teague (h/t), O O’Neill for McGahan (44), M Gallagher for M Donnelly (44), C Scullion for O’Kane (56).

Referee: K Delahunty (Tipperary).

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