Cork showed once more not just why they are queen-pins of the game and Dublin’s bogey team but also the best second-half team in the business as they hit Dublin for 1-4 and restricted them to one point from play and what was, in essence, a consolation penalty goal in the final minute.
Analysing this latest reverse to Cork, Dublin should really look to the amount of scoring opportunities that went a-begging for them. Excluding the controversial Carla Rowe wide, they registered 12 wides and left five short. Such inaccuracy was always going to pay on a changeable autumnal day when scores were at a premium in front of a record 34,445 Croke Park crowd.
Yet Cork’s continuing reign of the game was not the talk in the capital last night. Instead, the decision not to award Dublin a score seemed the only story. Rowe, asked by Dublin’s 98FM afterwards, was livid. “It just shows the difference, we’re after losing by a point. Could be a drawn match, we could have went on and kicked on to win the game at the end. It just shows the difference, I asked for the HawkEye, I know it’s not in the women’s football. It just shows the sheer difference. I think it’s a disgrace.
“Myself and Lyndsey Davey went up and we said, ‘that went over the bar, they need to look back at it’. We went up to the referee but sure they make their decision, there’s nothing they can do. As I said, I just think it’s a disgrace. It’s just summed up in one word.”
Rowe was of the mind the game should be replayed although she wasn’t too optimistic. “Absolutely, if there’s anything there that Dublin would appeal anything that we can. I don’t know if it will happen now again if we can’t get HawkEye and stuff like that and we can’t go back and look through cameras that are standing right in front of our faces, to see if it’s a point or not, I can’t see how an appeal is going to go ahead but hopefully it does.”
Given Dublin had another 38 minutes in which to beat Cork — it was 0-3 to 0-2 in Cork’s favour at the time — the sense among the winners was their opponents had enough time to rectify the situation but didn’t.
Instead, Cork were focusing on how they came out the second half a different team from the one that faltered in a first half that should have finished more in Dublin’s favour than the 0-4 to 0-3 scoreline.
“Our first-half performance was terrible,” said Cork selector/coach James Masters. “Couldn’t get the ball up, when we were getting it up we were dropping it, Rhona (Ní Bhuachalla) got the goal and in these conditions it’s very hard to score.
“I know now I’ll look back at the game, I think ye’ll probably agree Dublin didn’t look like scoring much in the second half, Dee (O’Reilly) was our anchor there and they really needed to get something special. Sineád Aherne was obviously brilliant but she wasn’t able to get the ball in the positions that she’s used to; in the first half she did and she got a few points. But we’re thrilled.”
Apart from that Ní Bhuachalla goal in the 35th minute goal, Cork had other chances of finding the net through Orlagh Farmer in the first half and Briege Corkery midway through the second half. Ní Bhuachalla’s sharp finish finished a move where captain Ciara O’Sullivan had provided the spade work in assisting her fellow forward.
Between Niamh McEvoy’s 40th-minute point and Aherne converting that last-minute penalty, Dublin were held scoreless whereas Cork were raising white flags, Doireann O’Sullivan sending over three scores, one from a free, which defied the difficult conditions.
“It’s funny because Doireann’s back was bad,” said Masters. “She had a bulging disc, so bad now that we were worried about her. She did treatment and she was flying, the first time she was properly able to kick a point without arching her back we brought her down Wednesday and we did about 20 balls kicking it over the bar.”
Dublin manager Greg McGonigle could only laud the work of the Cork backs although he wasn’t wholly magnanimous. “The Dublin men’s wides last week was accredited to the pressure from Mayo’s defence and let’s give Cork credit — they hassled and they blocked but from our point of view I felt we worked ferociously hard.
“We took the game to Cork and I believe possibly on the day had we converted we would have been champions because we were possibly the best team performance-wise out there.”
That may have been true in the first half but when it mattered most, Cork were best. That record won’t be changing for another 12 months at least.
R. Ní Bhuachalla (1-0); O. Finn (2 frees), D. Sullivan (1 free) (0-3 each); O. Farmer (0-1).
S. Aherne (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free); N. Healy, L. Davey, N. McEvoy (0-1 each).
M. O’Brien; R. Phelan, B. Stack, M. Ambrose; S. Kelly, D. O’Reilly, V. Foley; A. Walsh, B. Corkery; R. Buckley, A. O’Sullivan, O. Farmer; C. O’Sullivan (c), D. O’Sullivan, O. Finn.
R Ní Bhuachalla for A. O’Sullivan (h-t); E. Scally for A. Walsh (inj 44).
C. Trant; O. Carey, D. Murphy, L. Caffrey; S. Goldrick, S. Finnegan, N. Collins; L. Magee, M. Lamb; N. Healy (c), N. Owens, C. Rowe; N. McEvoy, S. Aherne, L. Davey.
S. Woods for N. Owens, M. Ní Scanaill for L. Caffrey (both 44); S. Furlong for M. Lamb (50); L. Collins for D. Murphy (53).
B. Rice (Down).