Emma Duffy reports from Croke Park
DUBLIN ARE ALL-IRELAND champions once again, retaining the title for the first time in the county’s history.
Player of the Match Carla Rowe hit a goal in either half and captain fantastic Sinead Aherne finished with 1-7 as the holders defended the Brendan Martin Cup in an intriguing and fiery battle with old foes Cork in front of a record-breaking 50,141.
This was the fourth time the sides met in the showpiece in the last five years with Mick Bohan’s Sky Blues today gaining revenge for narrow defeats to the Rebels in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Cork, to their credit, battled fiercely throughout with Orla Finn leading the charge with 0-8 from frees. Aine O’Sullivan also fired 1-2, but the trophy remains in the capital as Dublin made it back-to-back All-Ireland final wins.
Both teams were quite nervy from the get-go as they settled into a tactical warfare in cagey circumstances.
Scores were slow to come as it turned into a tale of two extremely physical defences but Aherne soon put the wheels in motion for Dublin. She had two points on the board — one from play the other from a free — before Orla Finn grabbed Cork’s first, also from a mark, with 10 minutes on the clock.
The Kinsale star added two more while Nicole Owens responded at the other end before the Jackies grabbed their first goal of the game.
Lyndsey Davey was fouled for a 16th minute penalty, one which Aherne expertly slotted into the bottom left-hand corner of the Hill 16 goals.
Cork soon drew level after Áine O’Sullivan scored a superb major. Confusion reigned as it looked like the referee had awarded a free but the Beara forward intercepted Sinead Goldrick and then found the top corner.
With 24 minutes on the clock it was 1-4 a-piece, the sides level for the third time.
Up stepped Rowe to bag her first goal. After impressive work from Noelle Healy and Olwen Carey, she slotted home. Ciara O’Sullivan and Niamh McEvoy traded scores to make it 2-6 to 1-5 at the break.
Ephie Fitzgerald’s Leesiders came out strong on the restart with points exchanged at both ends, and Niamh Collins stepped up to clear Eimear Scally’s effort off the line in the 39th minute as the Sky Blues roared on.
It turned into a free-taking tussle for a period then with Aherne and Finn both having success from the mark and Cork soon reduced the deficit to two.
But then came Rowe with her second goal, the crucial blow the Dubs needed as the clock struck 50. She had the final say in another glorious team effort after brilliance from Martha Byrne and Lyndsey Davey in the build-up.
Pretty much over the line at this stage, Aherne and Sinead Goldrick tagged on further points to cancel out Finn and Doireann O’Sullivan’s efforts while Leah Caffrey’s late dismissal made no difference.
Scorers for Dublin: Sinead Aherne (1-7, 4f, 1p), Carla Rowe (2-0), Nicole Owens (0-2), Niamh McEvoy (0-1), Sinead Goldrick (0-1).
Scorers for Cork: Orla Finn (0-8, 8f), Aine O’Sullivan (1-2), Ciara O’Sullivan (0-1), Doireann O’Sullivan (0-1, 1f).
1. Ciara Trant (St Brigid’s)
2. Martha Byrne (Cuala)
19. Sinéad Finnegan (Fingallians)
4. Leah Caffrey (Na Fianna)
5. Sinéad Goldrick (Foxrock Cabinteely)
6. Siobhán McGrath (Thomas Davis)
7. Niamh Collins (Foxrock Cabinteely)
8. Lauren Magee (Kilmacud Crokes)
9. Olwen Carey (Thomas Davis)
10. Carla Rowe (Clann Mhuire)
11. Noelle Healy (St Brigid’s)
12. Lyndsey Davey (Skerries Harps)
13. Sinéad Aherne (St Sylvester’s)
14. Niamh McEvoy (St Sylvester’s)
15. Nicole Owens (St Sylvester’s)
22. Jennifer Dunne (Cuala) for Nicole Owens (52)
23. Hannah O’Neill (Foxrock Cabinteely) for Niamh McEvoy (53)
27. Amy Connolly (Foxrock Cabinteely) for Noelle Healy (58)
1. Martina O’Brien (Clonakilty)
2. Eimear Meaney (Mourneabbey)
3. Róisín Phelan (Aghada)
4. Melissa Duggan (Dohenys)
5. Maire O’Callaghan (Mourneabbey)
6. Shauna Kelly (Araglen Desmonds Buí)
7. Emma Spillane (Bantry Blues)
8. Aisling Hutchings (Fermoy)
9. Hannah Looney (Aghada)
10. Ciara O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey)
11. Libby Coppinger (St. Colum’s)
12. Eimear Scally (Eire Óg)
13. Áine O’Sullivan (Beara)
14. Doireann O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey)
15. Orla Finn (Kinsale)
22. Saoirse Noonan (Fermoy) for Libby Coppinger (HT)
17. Orlagh Farmer (Midleton) for Hannah Looney (54)
19. Chloe Collins (Dromtarriffe) for Emma Spillane (54)
Referee: Garryowen McMahon (Mayo)
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