Cork 2-19 Dublin 4-9
Full-forward Saoirse Noonan bagged 2-5 as Cork retained their All-Ireland minor A ladies football championship crown, writes Jackie Cahill.
The Leesiders ran out four-point winners over Dublin at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford – with the Irish international soccer star netting twice in the first half.
Cork had other stars on the day as Sadhbh O’Leary scored five points from play while midfielder Ciara McCarthy chipped in with three from midfield.
Captain Laura Cleary, daughter of team manager and former playing star John, showed real leadership at crucial times, as did Grace Culloty, and Cork held off a late Dublin comeback to claim a 9th crown in the minor A grade.
Dublin were chasing success in this competition for the first time since 2012 but looked down and out inside the final ten minutes as they trailed by nine points.
But two goals in three minutes from Erica Byrne, a penalty, and Julia Buckley brought Dublin to within three points of the winners.
Jade Sweeney Knott’s point had Dublin just two behind but McCarthy stormed forward for a brilliant solo point to steady Cork nerves with six minutes left.
O’Leary kicked her fifth and final point in the final minute as Cork brilliantly worked a score after playing keep ball for the best part of 90 seconds.
In an entertaining fixture, Cork were five points clear at half-time, 2-7 to 1-5.
But it was Dublin who got off to the ideal start within a minute as Rachel Douglas struck for the first of four goals for the Sky Blues.
Cork hit back in the eighth minute through Noonan, however, and added a second midway through the half as the lethal Nemo Rangers player was on target again.
That second goal put some daylight between the sides – Cork ahead by 2-5 to 1-2 – and they were five clear at the interval.
Seven minutes after the break, Buckley claimed the first of her two goals for Dublin, tapping the ball home at the far post after Hannah O’Neill forced an excellent save from goalkeeper Mairéad O’Sullivan.
Cork’s response was emphatic as they registered the next four scores to move clear of danger again, now 2-14 to 2-6 clear.
Cork were content to keep the scoreboard ticking over but after Dublin sub Clara O’Sullivan was fouled by Aisling O’Sullivan with 12 minutes, the Jackies had a lifeline.
Byrne netted the penalty and when Buckley completed her brace, Dublin were in the ascendancy.
Sweeney-Knott’s point had Dublin 4-9 to 2-17 adrift but Cork showed the necessary composure to close the game out.
Having come through a classic semi-final against Galway, Cleary’s charges ensured that it’s two out of three from finals in 2014, 2015 and again today.
Scorers for Cork: S Noonan 2-5 (0-2f), S O’Leary 0-5, C McCarthy 0-3, L Cleary & G Culloty 0-2 each, C Ryan & A Scannell 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dublin: J Buckley 2-1, R Douglas 1-3 (0-3f), E Byrne 1-0 pen, J Sweeney Knott, M Jennings, H O’Neill, D Lawless & C O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
CORK: M O’Sullivan; E Spillane, A O’Sullivan, S Phelan; C Hughes, B Casey, A Lynch; N Murphy, C McCarthy; C Ryan, L Cleary, A Scannell; G Culloty, S Noonan, S O’Leary.
Subs: J Brew Dinan for Lynch (46), L O’Neill for Scannell (50), S Hurley for Phelan (50), C Moran for McCarthy (60).
DUBLIN: K Ronan; S Hannigan, T O’Sullivan, S Moran; E Flannagan, L McGinley, M O’Gorman; J Sweeney-Knott, E Byrne; M Jennings, H O’Dea, H O’Neill; D Lawless, J Buckley, R Douglas.
Subs: J Dunne for Jennings (h.t.), C O’Sullivan for Douglas (43), S Murtagh for Flannagan (43), A McGrath for Lawless (46), H Bolger for Moran (50).
Referee: M Farrelly (Cavan).