Cork's Nollaig Cleary with Aoife McAnespie of Monaghan INPHO/James Crombie
Rebels Return

Cork secure another Ladies football crown

After their shock exit from the Championship last year, Cork have claimed the 2011 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies football title.

CORK HAD TO survive a sustained challenge from the women of Monaghan in order to win their sixth All-Ireland title at Croke Park on Sunday.

Favourites going into the contest, courtesy of their magnificent record in recent years, Cork triumphed by a score line of 2-7 to 0-11 despite recording a number of poor wides and losing the services of both captain Amy O’Shea and Valerie Mulcahy in the second half with the contest finely balanced.

Juliet Murphy opened the scoring for Cork with a fine point after two minutes and though it took them seven minutes, Monaghan eventually levelled matters with a free-kick from the boot of Catríona McConnell.

Good running from Nollaig Cleary allowed Valerie Mulcahy put the Rebels back in front and while it is the women from Munster who have all the early play, another point from McConnell left nothing between the teams with the first quarter of the match completed.

A well-taken score from Ellen McCarron put Monaghan ahead for the first time on 19 minutes but Cork were back on level terms within three minutes courtesy of a free kick from Murphy.

The game took a firm swing in Eamonn Ryan’s side favour a minute later when Monaghan goalkeeper Linda Martin sent her kick out straight into the hands of Cleary, who popped the ball over her rival’s head for the match’s opening goal.

Cork might have taken absolute control of the fixture after that but three wides in succession gave their opponents hope and McCarron added another point just before the interval – though it seemed easier to plant the ball in the back of Elaine Harte’s net.

Three points without reply from Ciara McAinepie and Niamh Kindlon (2) saw the Ulster side surge into a surprise lead after the break. Cork were still missing chances to score and then lost forward Amy O’Shea to injury seven minutes after the restart.

Grace Kearney kicked Cork level once again and the sides traded scores for several minutes until Orla Finn – on for the off-form Mulcahy – was brought down inside the square by two Monaghan defenders, earning a penalty that Rhona Ní Bhuachalla duly dispatched past Martin.

Points from Caoimhe Mohan and substitute Laura McEnaney – either side of a Murphy free-kick – reduced the deficit but a timely score from Rena Buckley gave the Rebels some breathing space and a two-point advantage, and Cork’s experience told in the final minutes as they retained possession and counted down the clock.

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