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Unstoppable Rena Buckley inspires Cork's Donoughmore back to All-Ireland glory

A 21st national title for the Rebel legend – though it was a hard-fought one as they just about edged Rachel Kearns’ CL McHale Rovers.

Rena Buckley was immense for Donoughmore.
Rena Buckley was immense for Donoughmore.
Image: Sportsfile,

Donoughmore (Cork) 1-12

CL McHale Rovers (Mayo) 1-11

After extra-time

Daragh Small reports from Duggan Park

RENA BUCKLEY SCORED 0-7 as Donoughmore became the third straight Cork team to claim the All-Ireland junior football title with victory over CL McHale Rovers in the final after extra-time at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe.

Donoughmore were 1-7 to 0-6 in front at half-time after Niamh Lohan’s strike. Cork legend Buckley — she landed her 21st national title — was inspirational throughout for her side while Mayo All-Star Rachel Kearns kept McHale Rovers right in touch.

Kearns picked up a yellow card at a vital stage in the second-half but she scored a key goal after she returned to set up a grandstand finish. The heroic Kearns then equalised and the game went to extra-time.

Donoughmore were 1-11 to 1-10 ahead at half-time in extra-time, and Buckley added another point to seal the win.

The Munster champions had all of the experience coming into this game having captured the All-Ireland SFC title on two occasions (2001 ans 2003). By contrast this was the first time since 2017 that a Mayo club even reached an All-Ireland decider and McHale Rovers started slow.

Donoughmore raced into a 1-4 to 0-0 lead after just nine minutes. Buckley was selected at midfield but started in the half-forward line and she opened the scoring in the second minute.

She doubled her tally from a free moments later, and then Lohan tagged on her first point before Donoughmore really hit their stride in the eighth minute.

Buckley took a free short to Lohan and her long looping effort evaded the grasp of McHale Rovers goalkeeper Niamh Larkin to finish in the net. It was a huge score and Buckley quickly followed that up with her third point, and second from a free.

DonvMac2 It was a real battle between Buckley and Rachel Kearns.

A week on from her All-Star award, Kearns finally got McHale Rovers on the scoreboard in the 12th minute and four minutes later she doubled her tally.

Aileen Buckley and Lohan combined to cancel out those scores but McHale Rovers hit four of the final five points in the half to go into the break right in contention.

Aileen Buckley scored her second point but two from Kearns and Rebecca Maughan reduced the arrears to four points at half-time.

Rena Buckley won a free on the resumption and she tapped it over too. It was the perfect start to the second-half for Donoughmore, however, Kearns set up Rebecca Maughan for her third point in the 36th minute.

McHale Rovers were dealt a massive blow six minutes later when Kearns was shown a yellow card for a foul on Michelle Dilworth.

But Rebecca Maughan brought it back to 1-8 to 0-8 with just over 10 minutes remaining. Rena Buckley’s fourth free gave her team a bigger cushion.

Kearns returned and after Annie Gough won a close-in free, Kearns rifled it into the roof of the Donoughmore net direct from the free in the 55th minute.

CUP LIFT Donoughmore Donoughmore captain Eileen Lyons lifts the trophy.

One point separated the sides until Kearns popped up to score the leveller from a free, and the game went to extra-time.

Jenny Brew Dinan opened the scoring for Donoughmore and McHale Rovers followed that with a couple of costly misses but substitute Niamh Maughan did tie it up again.

Rena Buckley’s fifth free gave Donoughmore a 1-11 to 1-10 half-time lead and she scored again after half-time.

Niamh Maughan and Amy Walsh had goal chances for their respective sides and Sinead Walsh had her goal-bound shot blocked but Donoughmore held on.

Scorers for Donoughmore: R Buckley 0-7 (6f), N Lohan 1-2, A Buckley 0-2, J Brew Dinan 0-1.

Scorers for McHale Rovers: R Kearns 1-5 (1-2f), R Maughan 0-5 (0-2f), N Maughan 0-1.

Donoughmore: C O’Connell; L McCarthy, Aisling Barrett, Aoife Barrett; A Quigley, M Dilworth, D Dineen; A Buckley, C Keane; E O’Reilly, R Buckley, J Brew Dinan; A Greene, E Lyons, N Lohan. Subs: A Walsh for A Buckley (30), A Condon for McCarthy (60), S O’Callaghan for Lyons (79).

McHale Rovers: N Larkin; D Kelly, L Maughan, C Kelly; C Walsh, A Deane, G Murray; M Larkin, E Keane; K Maughan, S Maughan, E Murray; R Maughan, R Kearns, S Walsh. Subs: A Gough for Kelly (20), N Maughan for E Murray (42).

Referee: S Coyle (Donegal).

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About the author:

Daragh Small

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