Battle Royal

Meath snatch extra-time win over Cork to reach historic first All-Ireland final

Cork were seven points ahead with five minutes of normal-time left before Meath hit two quick fire goals.

Meath 2-12

Cork 2-10

CORK HAD ONE foot in the TG4 All-Ireland ladies football final when Meath struck two goals in the last minute to force extra-time in Croke Park. 

niamh-osullivan-celebrates-after-the-game Meath’s Niamh O’Sullivan celebrates after the game. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

It was a spectacular collapse by a Cork side that looked to have the game out of sight when they led by seven after 55 minutes.

Buoyed by the unexpected lifeline, the Royals were the better side in extra-time as three points from the sensational Emma Duggan helped them over the line. 

It caps a remarkable turnaround in the space of a few short seasons for Meath who shipped a 40 point hammering to Cork in the 2015 championship

Meath will face five-in-a-row chasing Dublin in an all-Leinster decider on 5 September.

Just like the group two opener where they lost by two points, Meath stayed with Cork all the way before Eimear Scally’s 54th minute goal looked to have put the tie to bed. Eamonn Murray’s team produce one last rally as Stacey Grimes was fouled for a penalty that she stuck home in the 59th minute.

From the kick-out, Martina O’Brien went short and Meath turned it over and Emma Duggan finished high into the net.

vikki-wall-and-erika-oshea Meath’s Vikki Wall and Erika O’Shea of Cork. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Cork were punished for sleepwalking down the home stretch. Yet they were unlucky not to have been awarded a late free before the buzzer sounded the end of regulation time.

They went in level at 2-10 apiece after the first period of extra-time, before the Royals snatched victory with two scores from Duggan, who finished with 1-5.

It continues Meath’s remarkable 2021 campaign. All-Ireland intermediate champions in 2020 after losing the previous two finals, they were crowned Division 2 champions in June after a win over Kerry at Croke Park. 

A win over Tipperary sent them into the knock-out stages of the championship before they downed Armagh in the quarter-final. This victory over Cork is a major fillip for the Royals to underline their dramatic rise this year.

Cork went into battle without star forward Orla Finn while they lost Ciara O’Sullivan to injury inside the first 10 minutes. Scally shouldered the scoring burden with a haul of 1-5, as Doireann O’Sullivan arrived off the bench to shoot 1-2 and Eimear Kiely added a brace. 

Meath dropped plenty of bodies behind the ball and succeeded in frustrating Cork in the opening half. Eimear Kiely and Scally kicked early scores for Cork as they settled into the game well. 

Meath’s response was clinical. Emma Duggan roared into the game with a point and her fellow inside attacker Vicky Wall hit three scores in quick succession. Cork’s attack became slow and laboured as they struggled to break down the Meath rearguard. 

The Rebels shot some poor wides as the interval approached but efforts from Kiely and Scally sent them into the break on level terms.

Cork turned on the style in the third quarter with Doireann O’Sullivan’s goal arriving as part of 1-4 they shot during that period. Scally contributed three frees but Meath kept the scoreboard ticking over through Duggan and substitute Niamh Gallogly. 

Scally’s goal with six minutes left put Cork in the ascendancy before Meath struck with a decisive double blow to force extra-time. 

Both sides were wasteful during the afters before Meath eventually prevailed.

Scorers for Cork: Eimear Scally 1-6 (0-5f), Doireann O’Sullivan 1-2 and Eimear Kelly 0-2.

Scorers for Meath: Emma Duggan 1-5, Stacey Grimes 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), Vikki Wall 0-3, Niamh Gallogly 0-2 and Niamh O’Sullivan 0-1


1. Martina O’Brien (Clonakilty – captain)

2. Marie Ambrose (St Valentine’s), 3. Roisin Phelan (St Brigid’s, Dublin), 4. Eimear Meaney (Mournabbey)

5. Erika O’Shea (Macroom), 6. Maebh Cahalane (Eire Og), 7. Melissa Duggan (Dohenys)

8. Aisling Hutchings (Fermoy), 9. Hannah Looney (Aghada)

21. Maire O’Callaghan (Mourneabbey), 12. Aine O’Sullivan (Beara) , 22. Eimear Kiely (Valley Rovers)

13. Sadhbh O’Leary (Kinsale),11. Ciara O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), 15. Eimear Scally (Eire Og)


24. Doireann O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey) for Ciara O’Sullivan (9)

25. Brid O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey) for Aine O’Sullivan (40)

10. Laura O’Mahony (O’Donovan Rossa) for Kiely (45)

14. Katie Quirke (Bride Rovers) for O’Leary (53)

18. Shauna Kiely (Araglen Desmonds Bui) for Cahalane (57)

29. Daire Kiely (Valley Rovers) for O’Mahony (start of ET)

26. Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s) for Meaney (start of ET)

28. Emma Cleary (Eire Og) for Brid O’Sullivan (78)

22. Kiely for O’Callaghan (79) 


1. Monika McGuirk (Duleek/Bellewstown)

2. Emma Troy (Boardsmill), 3. Mary Kate Lynch (Summerhill), 4. Katie Newe (Ratoath)

5. Aoibheann Leahy (Navan O’Mahonys), 6. Aoibhin Cleary (Donaghmore/Ashbourne), 7. Shauna Ennis (Na Fianna – captain)

8. Orlagh Lally (Clann na nGael), 9. Maire O’Shaughnessy (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)

10. Orla Byrne Duleek/Bewllewstown), 14. Emma Duggan (Dunboyne), 13. Vikki Wall (Dunboyne)

11. Stacey Grimes (Seneschalstown), 12. Niamh O’Sullivan (Dunshaughlin Royal Gaels) 15. Bridgetta Lynch (Oldcastle)


17. Niamh Gallogly (Dunshaughlin Royal Gaels) for Lynch (45)

30. Megan Thynne (Dunsany) for Lally (45)

28. Shelly Melia (Dunboyne) for Leahy (53)

23. Emma White (St Patrick’s) for Byrne (53)

24. Kate Byrne (Duleek/Bellewsotwn) for O’Sullivan (58)

12. O’Sullivan for O’Shaughnessy (70)

Referee: Jonathan Murphy (Carlow).

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