Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald celebrates.
Glory Days

'Big lift' as Cork get their day in the sun again with thrilling win over rivals Dublin

It was a victory to remember for Ephie Fitzgerald’s side, who now face Galway in the league final.

A SCINTILLATING CONTEST under the blazing sun in Nowlan Park yesterday saw Cork knock reigning champions Dublin off their perch and reach the Division 1 league final after extra-time. 

It took over 86 minutes of action to separate the two ladies football powerhouses, before Ephie Fitzgerald’s Rebels gained some more revenge for last year’s All-Ireland final loss at Croke Park.

In their second win in as many games over their arch rivals, Orla Finn kicked 13 points in a sun-kissed Easter Sunday battle while Melissa Duggan’s 1-1 was also key for the eventual winners.

And Cork now find themselves back in the league final for the first time since their 2017 win over Donegal, when they made it five-in-a-row.

“It was some spectacle,” Fitzgerald reflected afterwards. “I am very, very proud of the girls. We beat Dublin two weeks ago and people were telling us they were short (of players).

“At the end of the day, we will probably be meeting them later on in the championship, but this is a big lift for our girls. We are in another national final in two weeks’ time, and that is something for our girls to look forward to.

“Dublin are a very formidable side, with top class players, particularly in the forward line. So from our point of view, it’s a confidence builder as much as anything else.”

Sky Blues manager Mick Bohan noted that the last-four defeat really hurt, while confirming that star defender Sinéad Goldrick has been sidelined for four to six weeks with a broken hand.

The 2018 double champions will of course be disappointed at their early exit, but they’ll now build towards their Leinster final meeting with Westmeath and defending the Brendan Martin cup from there.

Orlagh Farmer and Caoimhe Moore celebrates after the game Bryan Keane / INPHO All smiles for Cork duo Orlagh Farmer and Caoimhe Moore. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“The last defeat wouldn’t have bothered me but today bothered me,” the two-in-a-row All-Ireland winning boss said.

“But there is nothing between the two teams and we would have known that going into the All-Ireland final last year. A kick of a ball and on another day the kick of the ball could have gone our way.

High-flying Galway come as the Leesiders’ opposition in the decider, which is pencilled in for Parnell Park on Sunday, 5 May.

Having lost just one of their league games so far this year, Tim Rabbitte’s side beat Donegal by seven on Saturday to seal their progression.

And while pleased with the win, which saw the Tribeswomen into their first top-flight final in four years, their manager admitted they still had plenty of improvements to make.

“We’re delighted by 45 minutes and then we’ve some things to work on, some of our decision making and our skills let us down again,” Rabbitte said.

“But when there’s something big on the line players might freeze and there was a small bit of that, but there’s always something to work on.

Galway v Donegal - Lidl NFL Division 1 Semi-Final Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE Sinead Burke, Olivia Divilly and Megan Glynn celebrate after beating Donegal. Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

“The goal was to improve our performance and see where that brought us. We didn’t put any limitations on the squad either, we went out to play and see could we improve our performance all the time and we’ve done that.

“We won all our league games bar one, so we deserve to be in a final, and we just have to see can we put a better performance together for that.”

Elsewhere, Donegal boss Maxi Curran — who is planning for championship without AFLW star Yvonne Bonner — was full of praise for the 2019 finalists, adding that they’ll be a force to be reckoned with come championship.

“We have to accept reality, Galway were a far superior team on the day. Their efficiency up front, their ability to get scores, their ability to build through the middle was all very good.

“They’ve a lot of mobility in their team and they’re a top senior outfit, genuine contenders for an All-Ireland.”

- With reporting from Daragh Small and Kevin Egan, and quotes from the LGFA 

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