CORK were crowned All-Ireland minor A ladies’ football champions after a thrilling victory in Birr.
Tara Maguire scored a hat-trick of goals for Cork, who recovered from a sluggish start to win the minor crown for the first time since 2007, their seventh in all.
Maguire may have top-scored for the Leesiders but Emma Farmer received the player of the match award after a superb performance.
Farmer, wearing number 14, was superb at midfield and centre-forward as her hard running caused endless problems for the Dublin defence.
The Aghada star finished with five points from play and helped drag Cork back into contention after they fell no score to 1-2 behind after nine minutes.
Dublin were rampant at the start and goaled in the third minute when Aisling King netted a stunning effort. Four minutes later, the Leinster girls had the chance of a second goal but Lauren Ebbs struck the post from a penalty, with Aoife Gallagher also lashing the rebound against the woodwork.
Cork finally got off the mark in the 11th minute when Elaine Scally, who scored 1-3, pointed but Ebbs atoned for her earlier penalty miss with an 18th-minute goal.
Dublin were five points clear, 2-4 to 0-5, approaching half time before the tie swung dramatically in Cork’s favour.
Dublin corner-back Leah Caffrey couldn’t keep out Brid O’Sullivan’s 28th-minute goal for Cork before the Sky Blues netted again on the half-hour when Aoife Gallagher lashed home a magnificent strike.
But Cork’s response before half time was magnificent as an unanswered 2-1 established a 3-6 to 3-5 interval lead. Maguire scored both of those goals and the Rosscarbery corner-forward completed her hat-trick within a minute of the restart as the Munster champions moved 4-7 to 3-5 clear.
Cork were relatively comfortable from there until the final whistle but, approaching the finish, a goal from Dublin sub Shauna Garvin and the impressive Killeen’s fourth point from play brought the metropolitans to within two (4-10 to 4-12).
Scally, however, finally killed off the dogged Dublin resistance with Cork’s fifth goal on the hour mark and there was still time for Cork goalkeeper Lisa Crowley to deny Killeen and Ebbs with a breathtaking late double save.
Scorers for Cork: T Maguire 3-1; E Scally 1-3; E Farmer, K O’Dea (3f) 0-5 each, B O’Sullivan 1-0; J O’Shea 0-1.
Scorers for Dublin: A Gallagher, L Ebbs 1-1 each; S Killeen, S Woods (2f) 0-4 each; A King, S Garvin 1-0 each; C Ruddy 0-1.
CORK: L Crowley; A Barry, E Coakley, G O’Sullivan; S Kelly, J Barry, R Phelan; E Farmer, J O’Shea; K O’Dea, B O’Sullivan, A Allen; E Scally, A Cott, T Maguire.
Subs: M Dineen for Barry (36), F Neville for Cott (53), A O’Driscoll for Phelan (60).
DUBLIN: A Gillen; L Caffrey, E Keatley, C King; G Barrett, J Ward, A Nolan; O Smart, E McDonagh; E McGrath, S Killeen, A King; S Woods, A Gallagher, L Ebbs.
Subs: A Caffrey for King (ht), S McCaffrey for McDonagh (37), D Murphy for L Caffrey (42), S Garvin for McGrath (48), C Ruddy for Gallagher (57).
Referee: J Niland (Sligo).
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