End of an era as Red Hands crush Cork’s six in-a- row bid

TYRONE blew the race for the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC wide open at Banagher on Saturday as they claimed a sensational quarter-final victory against All-Ireland champions Cork.

The Red Hands ran out 3-11 to 0-13 winners against the Leesiders, who had claimed the last five championship titles.

Cork finished with just 13 players as defenders Bríd Stack and Aisling Barrett received yellow cards and were sin-binned in the closing minutes. With that numerical advantage, Tyrone bagged two late goals to clinch victory as full-forward Sarah Connolly (57) and inspirational midfielder Sarah Donnelly (60) netted for the Ulster outfit.

Remarkably, Cork had led 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time, having reeled off six unanswered points before the interval.

The sides had been level at 0-5 apiece with 15 minutes on the watch but Cork cut loose with a clinical run of scores.

The Munster champions, however, were rocked in the first half when centre-forward Ciara O’Sullivan and experienced defender Geraldine O’Flynn were forced off through injury.

And the rot really set in after half-time as Cork managed just two points in the second half – both from Valerie Mulcahy frees.

Tyrone set about closing the gap but didn’t appear to be making much headway until Aisling O’Kane goaled with 13 minutes of normal time remaining.

Mulcahy hit back with a Cork free, her side’s first score for 20 minutes, but points from Sarah Connolly and centre forward Gemma Begley brought Tyrone level (1-10 to 0-13) with five minutes left.

Then, Cork’s discipline left them down as first Stack and then Barrett were yellow-carded for fouls on Sarah and Joline Donnelly respectively.

Connolly took advantage to goal from close range with three minutes remaining after Sarah Donnelly’s shot struck an upright before Donnelly found the net in the final minute with an impressive finish past Elaine Harte.

Tyrone’s reward for this stunning win is a semi-final meeting with championship surprise packets Kerry, while Dublin and Laois will meet in the other semi-final.

The Dublin-Laois clash is a repeat of the Leinster decider, which Dublin won, and the Sky Blues are now the only remaining provincial champions left in the All-Ireland series.

Before Tyrone sent shock waves through the ladies game, Laois defeated Ulster champions Monaghan in the first game of a Banagher double-header. The O’Moore County, who have impressed through the qualifiers, secured a 0-12 to 0-9 victory against the beaten 2008 All-Ireland finalists.

At half-time, Laois led by 0-6 to 0-3 after the sides had been level three times in the opening 20 minutes. Then, scores from captain Angela Casey, Mary Kirwin and Tracey Lawlor helped Laois to a three-point half-time advantage.

It was a lead they would hold to the finish and Monaghan never looked like finding a way through a resolute Laois defence, with Lorraine Muckian and Aisling Quigley shining in the full-back line.

Three minutes from time, and with Laois leading by 0-11 to 0-7, top scorer Noirin Kirwan sensibly popped over a penalty after the 21-year-old forward was fouled by Gráinne McNally. Sub Caoimhe Mohan and a strangely subdued Ciara McAnespie hit points in the final minute but they were mere consolation efforts as the O’Moore County booked their place in the last four for the first time in three years.

Scorers for Laois: N Kirwan 0-4 (3f, 0-1 pen), T Lawlor 0-3 (2f), A Casey 0-2, M Kirwin 0-1, A Taylor 0-1, A O’Loughlin 0-1.

Scorers for Monaghan: C McConnell 0-3 (2f), G McNally 0-2, M Woods 0-1, T McNally 0-1f, C Mohan 0-1, C McAnespie 0-1.

Scorers for Cork: V Mulcahy 0-5 (4f), J Murphy 0-3 (1f), R Ní Bhuachalla 0-2, N Cleary 0-1, M O’Connor 0-1, L McMahon 0-1.

Scorers for Tyrone: S Connolly 1-2, A O’Kane 1-1, G Begley 0-4 (1f), S Donnelly 1-0, J Donnelly 0-1, C McGahan 0-2 (1f), S Quinn 0-1.

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC semi-final draw: Tyrone v Kerry, Dublin v Laois.

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