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'There's no ego in this Cork team. They do everything at 100%'

James Masters’ pre-match nerves turned to exhilaration as Cork clinched another All-Ireland.

Cork: a remarkable 11th All-Ireland title in 12 seasons.
Cork: a remarkable 11th All-Ireland title in 12 seasons.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

JAMES MASTERS HAILED Cork for their humility as the greatest team in Ladies Football history clinched a sensational All-Ireland six-in-a-row.

Masters, who won three Munster football titles himself as a player, was brought on board as a selector when Ephie Fitzgerald took up the reins as manager from the great Eamonn Ryan.

Ryan steered this side, who had never been in a senior football final before 2005, to 10 All-Ireland titles in 11 years before stepping away to join the men’s team late last year.

His absence placed a question mark against Cork’s All-Ireland credentials but Fitzgerald and his management team continued their glorious record with a 1-7 to 1-6 win over Dublin on Sunday.

“I kind of didn’t (feel pressure) throughout the league,” Masters said afterwards, “but when it go to knock-out, I think we did.

A lot of people in Cork would’ve said you’re taking on a poisoned chalice and I don’t know how Ephie feels about that. He got me involved as coach, but there was definitely a lot of pressure.

“We lost Valerie (Mulcahy) and Geraldine (O’Flynn) who are massive players but a lot of younger players stepped up.”

In terrible conditions, Dublin led by 0-4 to 0-3 at half-time in front of a record crowd of 34,445 in Croke Park.

And they rightly felt aggrieved that Carla Rowe’s 22nd-minute shot was waved wide by the umpires despite TV replays showing that it was clearly over the bar.

The controversial point didn’t stand, however, and Cork dominated the second half. The magnificent Doireann O’Sullivan kicked three points and Rhona Ni Bhuachalla’s goal proved critical as they brought the Brendan Martin Cup back to Leeside once again.

“It’s actually an awful lot harder being on the line than playing,” Masters admitted.

Last night the nerves, this morning the nerves. The lunch came out and I didn’t even want to eat it, just nervous for the girls.

“But then you look at it then and a lot of them have 10 All-Irelands and you trust that they’re going to do it.

“Now our first-half performance was terrible. We couldn’t get the ball up, and when we were getting it up, we were dropping it. Rhona got the goal and in these conditions, it’s very hard to score.

“I’ll look back at the game, and I think ye’ll probably agree Dublin didn’t look like scoring much in the second half.

“Dee was our anchor there and they really needed to get something special.

“Sinead Aherne was obviously brilliant but she wasn’t able to get the ball in the positions that she’s used to. In the first half she did and she got a few points. But we’re thrilled.”

He added: “We talk about humility and it’s true.

“There’s no ego in this Cork team and what strikes me is that they do everything at 100%. You try to get them to calm down and do things warming up but everything is driven and the likes of Brid (Stack) and Deirdre (O’Reilly) drive it on.

If there’s something not up to scratch they’ll say it. They’ll say it to management and they’ll say it to players — ‘Lads, you need to do this’ — and we did step up.

“The performance wasn’t up to scratch but we scraped it and got over the line.”

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Niall Kelly

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