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Brilliant Cora Staunton inspires Carnacon to first All-Ireland final in four years

The Mayo and Connacht champions saw off first-time Ulster champions St Macartan’s.

St Macartan's v Carnacon - All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Club Championship Semi-Final Mayo star Cora Staunton scored 1-7 on Sunday. Source: Oliver McVeigh/SPORTSFILE

Carnacon (Mayo) 3-14

St Macartan’s (Tyrone) 0-8

Jackie Cahill reports from Fr. Hackett Park

CORA STAUNTON COLLECTED 1-7 as five-time winners Carnacon booked their place in a first All-Ireland ladies senior club final since 2013.

The Mayo and Connacht champions made a potentially tricky All-Ireland semi-final against first-time Ulster winners St Macartan’s look relatively straightforward on Sunday, in front of a big crowd at Fr. Hackett Park, Augher.

Carnacon were driven forward by their county stars as Fiona McHale delivered another powerhouse performance at midfield, while Amy Dowling scored 1-3 from play.

Carnacon, despite coughing up some chances, were generally tight and compact in a defence led by Martha Carter and Marie Corbett.

And wing-forwards Louise Dowling and Aoife Brennan, who scored a point each, covered every blade of grass as Carnacon set up a December 3 final clash with Cork’s Mourneabbey at Parnell Park.

It’s the first time that the clubs will have met in the senior championship – as Carnacon look to collect a first All-Ireland crown since their last win five years ago.

St Macartan's v Carnacon - All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Club Championship Semi-Final Source: Oliver McVeigh/SPORTSFILE

Club captain Staunton may be Australia-bound to prepare for a professional stint with the Greater Western Sydney Giants but the decorated forward will have to put travelling plans on hold for at least another fortnight.

For St Macs, this was a bridge too far but the club managed by former Tyrone All-Ireland winner Ryan McMenamin can still reflect proudly on a landmark season.

They registered eight wides in the first half and they proved costly, as Carnacon put increased daylight between the teams as the game wore on.

At half-time, Carnacon led by 1-6 to 0-3 and the goal from McHale in the 16th minute was quite brilliant.

McHale picked up possession around midfield and drove at the heart of the St Macs defence, with team-mates making intelligent runs on either side to clear a path.

McHale’s finish was low and decisive and the St Macs luck was summed up in the 28th minute when skipper Joline Donnelly clipped a shot off the upright, across the face of goal and wide.

Indeed, St Macs went without a score from the 15th minute until five minutes into the second half, and Carnacon were well in control by then.

The second Carnacon goal arrived in the 36th minute, as a long-range free from Staunton found the net, before Dowling registered goal number three six minutes later.

From there until the finish it was simply a matter of keeping the scoreboard ticking over for Carnacon, as their goalkeeper Michelle Higgins preserved a ‘clean sheet’ with an excellent late save to keep out Lynda Donnelly.

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