Cleary stars as classy Cork reign supreme

CORK retained their Bord Gáis Energy Ladies National Football League Division 1 crown with a devastating performance against Mayo in Saturday’s Kiltoom decider.

Jim McEvoy’s charges proved far too good for the outclassed Westerners as they ran out 1-20 to 0-11 winners at the superbly-turned out Roscommon venue.

The reigning Munster and All-Ireland kingpins collected the league title for the fourth time in five seasons and had 12 points to spare at the finish. The result of this tie was in no doubt from an early stage and Rhona Buckley’s first half goal helped to open up a comfortable 1-10 to 0-5 half-time advantage.

Buckley was a late change to the Cork line-up as she came in at full-forward for Amy O’Shea and more than justified her inclusion with a fine first half display.

A completely dominant Cork could even afford the luxury of ten first half wides while Mayo, chasing the game, registered eight wides in the second half.

Buckley forced Mayo goalkeeper Yvonne Byrne into a smart 12th minute save before the St Finbarr’s star netted in the 17th minute after taking a pass from Deirdre O’Reilly.

It mattered little to Cork that they were without the services of sin-binned Briege Corkery at that point and Buckley almost added a second goal when she drilled a shot off the top of the crossbar and over in the 18th minute.

Mayo had a chance to haul themselves back into contention in the 24th minute but top scorer Cora Staunton dragged her penalty wide of goal.

Mayo needed a good start to the second half to have any chance but after Staunton shot two points, Cork stepped on the gas and roared to victory.

Player of the match Nollaig Cleary was in scintillating form throughout and after collecting two first half points, the Gabriel Rangers star added four in the second-half. Cleary covered a huge amount of ground during the game while Cork also had sparkling performances from wing backs Geraldine O’Flynn and the remarkable Corkery, who both scored two points.

This was a scintillating overall performance and on this form, it’s hard to see who can stop the Rebelettes collecting a fifth successive All-Ireland title this year.

Five of the six starting forwards were on target from play while Mayo were restricted to just six points from play over the hour.

Emma Mullen kicked three wonderful points for Mayo and offered stout resistance while Staunton never stopped trying on a day when she was very tightly marked from start to finish.

Cork scorers: N Cleary 0-6, V Mulcahy 0-5 (3f), Rhona Buckley 1-1, G O’Flynn, C O’Sullivan & B Corkery 0-2 each, J Murphy & D O’Reilly 0-1 each.

Mayo scorers: C Staunton 0-7 (5f), E Mullen 0-3, K Sullivan 0-1.

CORK: E Harte; Rena Buckley, A Walsh, L Barrett; G O’Flynn, B Stack, B Corkery; J Murphy, N Kelly; N Cleary, M O’Connor (c), C O’Sullivan; V Mulcahy, Rhona Buckley, D O’Reilly.

Subs: A O’Shea for Rhona Buckley (50), C McCarthy for Barrett (54), R O’Sullivan for C O’Sullivan (57), A Sheehan for Corkery (57), L Cohalan for O’Flynn (60).

MAYO: Y Byrne; N Tierney, C McGing, M Corbett; S Hughes, C O’Hara, K Sullivan; C Egan, M Carter (c); F McHale, E Mullen, T McNicholas; L Cafferky, C Staunton, N Beegan.

Subs: N Hurst for Hughes (28), A Loftus for Corbett (ht), A Herbert for McHale (36), S Cafferky for L Cafferky (48).

Referee: Joe Murray (Dublin).

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