By Jackie Cahill at St Brendan’s Park, Birr
Cork 1-15 Dublin 0-11
A dominant second-half display by Ephie Fitzgerald’s Cork has seen the holders qualify for a ninth successive Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 final – and within touching distance of the four-in-a-row.
Cork, with the breeze in the second half, came from two points down at the break to win by seven against Dublin at St Brendan’s Park in Birr.
Half-time substitute Eimear Scally made a fine impact off the bench, scoring three points, while Orla Finn collected a total of seven points for the rampant Rebelettes.
In a repeat of the last two All-Ireland senior finals, and the 2014 League decider, Cork had the upper hand on their big city rivals again to storm through to a Parnell Park decider in a fortnight’s time.
Cork outscored Dublin by 0-11 to 0-2 in the second half but the Sky Blues were unhappy that Cork’s Deirdre O’Reilly avoided punishment for a high challenge on Lyndsey Davey that saw the Skerries Harps player require lengthy treatment before being forced off late in the second half.
Despite conceding a 15th minute goal to Cork captain Ciara O’Sullivan, Dublin rallied to lead by 0-9 to 1-4 at the break, but they failed to score from play in the second half.
Defending tenaciously and executing a number of blocks as Cork players tried to get shots away, Dublin managed to keep the Rebelettes at bay for the most part in the opening half before falling away.
Dublin lined out from the start without established stars like Sinead Goldrick and Carla Rowe, with boss Gregory McGonigle making five changes in personnel from the team named to start.
Cork made two switches, with Eimear Meaney and Aisling Hutchings coming in for Marie Ambrose and Orlagh Farmer, and they were a point down within two minutes as Sinead Aherne opened the scoring for Dublin.
Cork rallied with an Orla Finn point but Niamh Ryan responded for Dublin before O’Sullivan’s goal midway through the half, converted from close range as the Leesiders finally found a way through.
The sides were level twice before Dublin bagged four unanswered points to move 0-8 to 1-2 in front, Niamh McEvoy and Davey very much to the fore.
Finn hit back with a badly needed Cork score before Davey and O’Sullivan traded points approaching half-time, leaving the game delicately poised ahead of the second period.
But Cork, with Scally adding real impetus, blitzed Dublin after the restart and a run of seven points without reply turned a 1-5 to 0-10 deficit into a 1-12 to 0-10 lead.
Dublin managed just two pointed frees from Aherne in the second half as Cork advanced to their 12th League decider in 13 seasons.
Scorers for Cork: O Finn 0-7 (4f), C O’Sullivan 1-1, E Scally 0-3, R Buckley, B Corkery, A Walsh & H Looney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dublin: S Aherne 0-5 (4f), L Davey 0-3, N McEvoy 0-2, N Ryan 0-1.
CORK: M O’Brien; E Meaney, B Stack, R Phelan; V Foley, D O’Reilly, S Kelly; R Buckley, B Corkery; A Hutchings, C O’Sullivan, A Walsh; Á O’Sullivan, H Looney, O Finn.
Subs: M Ambrose for Kelly (h.t.), E Scally for Hutchings (h.t.).
DUBLIN: C Trant; O Carey, M Ní Scanaill, L Collins; C Barrett, S Finnegan, N Collins; A Connolly, N Healy; S Woods, L Davey, N Ryan; O Leonard, N McEvoy, S Aherne.
Subs: L Caffrey for Collins (43), S Goldrick for Barrett (45), A Conroy for McEvoy (53), S Furlong for Leonard (57), C Ruddy for Davey (60+1).
Referee: G Carmody (Mayo).