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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 26 September 2020

Ladies NFL finals: Wins for Cork, Kerry and Down

The Rebels calimed a seventh Division 1 title at Parnell Park.

Cork's Ann Marie Walsh and her niece Megan with the trophy.
Cork's Ann Marie Walsh and her niece Megan with the trophy.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Cork 0-14
Mayo 0-7

EAMONN  RYAN’S ALL-conquering Cork claimed a seventh Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 title in nine seasons on Saturday afternoon.

The Leesiders, appearing in their ninth final in ten years, scored a comfortable seven-point victory over Mayo at Parnell Park in Dublin.

Cork lost last year’s final to Monaghan but regained the title with a solid if unspectacular win against 2012 Division 2 champions Mayo.

Defensively, the Rebelettes were in no mood to concede scores as in-form Cora Staunton, scorer of 1-10 against Monaghan in the semi-final, was bottled up.

Staunton did manage four points but the Carnacon star was restricted to just a pointed free in the second half.

And Mayo managed just two points in the entire second half as Cork finished with a flurry of scores to claim national silverware again.

Mayo shot themselves in the foot by registering ten wides in the first half but they were always up against it, having failed to build up a lead after playing with a breeze.

Mayo were level at half-time at 0-5 apiece and went in front for the first time in the game when captain Fiona McHale kicked the opening score of the second half.

But All-Ireland champions Cork responded with a run of five unanswered points to gain a firm grip on proceedings, as Mayo went 17 minutes without a score.

Mayo also had player of the match Yvonne Byrne to thank for an inspired performance as the Hollymount netminder pulled off a string of fine saves.

Two were particularly memorable as Byrne dived full length to keep out Valerie Mulcahy in the fifth minute – and again after half-time as the ace Cork corner forward fired in left-footed shots.

And Byrne rushed from her line to deny Cork sub Emma Farmer with five minutes remaining as the former All-Ireland winning shotstopper preserved a clean sheet.

Overall, Cork never had to hit the heights they are capable of during the course of a well-attended League decider.

Bríd Stack and Geraldine O’Flynn were outstanding in defence, with Orla Finn the pick of Cork’s attack.

Ultimately, it was Cork’s strong second half performance that got the job done as they outscored Mayo by 0-9 to 0-2.

The Westerners managed just one point from play after half-time – scored by McHale.

Playing into the teeth of a stiff breeze, that was never going to be enough against Cork, who bided their time before picking off their opponents in clinical fashion.

Scorers for Cork: V Mulcahy 0-4 (3f), O Finn 0-3, G O’Flynn 0-3 (2f), R Ní Bhuachalla 0-2 (1f), D O’Sullivan & Angela Walsh 0-1 each.

Scorers for Mayo: C Staunton 0-4 (1f), S Rowe 0-2, F McHale 0-1.

CORK: E Harte; A.M. Walsh, B Stack, A Barrett; B Corkery, D O’Reilly, G O’Flynn; Annie Walsh, R Buckley; O Farmer, Angela Walsh, O Finn; V Mulcahy, R Ní Bhuachalla, D O’Sullivan. Subs: N Cleary for Mulcahy (48), E Farmer for O’Sullivan (54), V Foley for Barrett (56).
MAYO: Y Byrne; M Corbett, N Tierney, K Sullivan; Ciara McManamon, M Carter, L Ryder; C Egan, C McManamon; A Gilroy, D Doherty, F McHale; L Cafferky, C Staunton, S Rowe. Subs: A Bell for Ryder (19), G Kelly for Cafferky (45), N Kelly for Doherty (45), C Connelly for Ciara McManamon (45).

Galway 1-10
Kerry 1-13

Kerry’s Aislinn Desmond and Bernie Breen celebrate at the final whistle. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

KERRY REGAINED TOP flight status by holding off a spirited Galway fightback in Saturday’s Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 2 final at Parnell Park in Dublin.

With 13 minutes remaining, the Kingdom led by eight points but with Aoife Lyons sin-binned, Galway took advantage of their numerical advantage to cut the deficit to just two points with time running out.

But sub Lorraine Scanlon settled Kerry’s nerves with three minutes remaining and William O’Sullivan’s side held out to claim a first League title for the county since the 1991 Division 1 showpiece.

For Galway, this was a second successive Division 2 final defeat, following on from the 2012 loss to Connacht rivals Mayo.

With the aid of the strong wind in the first half, last year’s beaten All-Ireland senior finalists Kerry took advantage to open up a 1-8 to 0-5 half-time lead.

They raced into a 1-4 to 0-0 lead with 14 minutes on the watch before Galway’s leading scorer Edel Concannon opened her side’s account.

Kerry struck early for the game’s opening goal as Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh blasted home a third minute penalty after Rebecca McPhilbin fouled Margaret Fitzgerald.

Four minutes before the break, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s second point of the first half opened up an eight-point lead for Kerry – 1-8 to 0-3.

But Galway responded with points from Deirdre Brennan and Edel Concannon to leave six points between the sides at the interval.

Galway’s top scorer Concannon and player of the match Sarah Houlihan traded frees after the restart before Kerry sub Laura Rogers tested Galway’s crossbar with a blistering drive in the 41st minute.

Points from Houlihan and Rogers had Kerry eight points in front – 1-11 to 0-6 – but Galway responded strongly and were right back in the hunt when Annette Clarke buried a 47th minute penalty.

The award was probably the correct call by referee Maggie Farrelly, who whistled for over 60 frees during a stop-start encounter, but the decision to yellow card Lyons was somewhat harsh.

Galway kicked on and were breathing down Kerry’s necks approaching the finish.

But it was final heartbreak for the Westerners again as Kerry, with three current Allstars in their starting line-up, returned to Division 1 after a three-year absence.

Overall, Galway struggled to break down a Kerry defence superbly marshalled by full-back Aislinn Desmond.

Galway boss Barry Downey took off four of his six forwards during the game and at midfield for Kerry, captain Bernie Breen led by example before accepting the coveted silverware.

Scorers for Galway: E Concannon 0-6f, A Clarke 1-0 pen, B Hannon, D Brennan, A Daly & L Hannon 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), S Houlihan 0-6 (4f), B Breen, P Dennehy, L Scanlon & L Rogers 0-1 each.

GALWAY: J Connolly; A Rohan, R McPhilibin, N Ward; B Hannon, E Flaherty, S Burke; A Clarke, E Curley; G Conneally, D Brennan, A Daly; T Leonard, R Leonard, E Concannon. Subs: L Joyce for T Leonard (h.t.), L Hannon for Conneally (45), C Cormican for Curley (45), C Hehir for Brennan (48), G O’Connor for R Leonard (54).
KERRY: E Murphy; C Lynch, A Desmond, A Lyons; B Lane, C Kelly, D Hallissey; E Sherwood, B Breen; D Corridan, M Fitzgerald, S Houlihan; L Galvin, P Dennehy, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh. Subs: L Scanlon for Fitzgerald (h.t.), L Rogers for Dennehy (h.t.), M O’Connell for Galvin (45).

Armagh 0-11
Down 2-6

The Down player celebrate. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

BENJI WARD’S DOWN staged a remarkable comeback at Parnell Park on Saturday afternoon to land the Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 3 title.

The Mourne County came from seven points down in the second half against Ulster rivals Armagh to gain promotion to Division 2.

Down’s first League crown since their Division 2 success in 2009 was achieved in dramatic fashion as substitutes Sinéad McNamee and Hazel Jordan played key roles.

McNamee created the 49th minute goal for player of the match Kyla Trainor that hauled Down back into contention.

And McNamee was also involved in the move that led to Jordan palming home a priceless 55th minute goal, with her first touch.

That goal handed Down the lead for the very first time in the game – 2-6 to 0-9 – and they held on to the finish against an Armagh team boasting five O’Connor Cup winners.

In a free-ridden encounter, Armagh played with the strong wind from the start and despite registering ten first half wides, they led by 0-6 to 0-1 at the break.

And when the Orchard County registered the opening two points of the second half, it appeared that they would claim a first League crown since Division 2 glory in 2005.

But Down hauled themselves back into contention with a steady run of scores and goals proved crucial.

Ward’s side made maximum use of the wind advantage but even though they were on the back-foot during the first half, they had created the best sight of goal before the break.

Trainor had a goal ruled out in the tenth minute as referee Gus Chapman, who blew for 65 frees during the game, had already signalled for a free-in.

And Trainor was involved again seven minutes later as her close range shot was superbly blocked by Armagh corner back Caoimhe Morgan, who was one of her team’s best players.

Six points from Sinead McCleary – O’Connor Cup winning captain with Queen’s University Belfast this year – was not enough for Armagh on the day.

McCleary kicked two of those points in the first half – with midfielder and captain Caroline O’Hanlon also prominent for Armagh, who were All-Ireland intermediate champions last year.

Armagh, resigned to at least another year in Division 3, had established a 0-6 to 0-1 lead with 13 minutes on the clock but the remainder of the first half was scoreless.

Scorers for Armagh: S McCleary 0-6 (2f), C O’Hanlon & F McKenna 0-2 each, K Mallon 0-1.

Scorers for Down: K Trainor 1-1, H Jordan 1-0, L Cunningham & N Ferris (2f) 0-2 each, G McClean 0-1f.

ARMAGH: K Daly; C Morgan, L Brown, S Marley; S Reel, N Marley, C McCann; C Malone, C O’Hanlon; M McGuinness, F McKenna, M Tennyson; N Henderson, S McCleary, K Mallon. Subs: S Grey for Tennyson (47), C Lennon for Mallon (51), M McAlinden for McKenna (56).
DOWN: E Joyce; C McKibben, L Sharvin, O Boyle; E Keane, N McGowan, S Fegan; C Fitzpatrick, M Doherty; G McClean, G Kelly, O Fegan; L Cunningham, K Trainor, N Ferris. Subs: S McNamee for Kelly (41), C McArdle for Doherty (51), H Jordan for O Fegan (53).

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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