Rebelettes retain All-Ireland title

Cork 2-11 Mayo 2-6, Croke Park

Cork 2-11 Mayo 2-6, Croke Park

An inspirational performance by Cork ensured that they maintained their unbeaten championship run and collected their third All-Ireland Ladies SFC title in succession following a 2-11 to 2-6 dismissal of Mayo at Croke Park.

Despite just five points separating the teams at the finish, this was a facile win for the Rebelettes and both of Mayo's goals came in the closing minute, as Cork let their foot slip off the pedal.

Goals either side of the interval from Valerie Mulcahy proved the ultimate difference between the sides, as Mayo were simply outclassed by their opponents for the majority of the hour.

Cork led by two points after 12 minutes and from then on, they really caused the Mayo defence major problems. Juliet Murphy scored a fine close range point, before a Geraldine O'Flynn score rounded off a move which began in the backline.

Murphy almost added another point immediately, but saw her effort fall into the hands of the Mayo goalkeeper. Nollaig Cleary landed a point of her own as Mayo began to look in real trouble. Cleary was involved again barely a minute later, as a hard challenge on Diane O'Hora left the Mayo forward needing treatment on her ankle.

Cora Staunton hit a poor wide, as Mayo began to find space extremely tight in and around the Cork goal. Angela Walsh and Brid Stack were particularly unmerciful.

A further bad wide followed from McHale before Staunton finally broke through the Cork defensive wall to land a massive point from long range. Two further points followed before the game changed direction.

Kelly burst into the Mayo defence and was flattened as she attempted to round two Mayo defenders. After a long wait for treatment, Mulcahy stepped up to slam the penalty past Byrne for a commanding Cork lead of 1-6 to 0-3 at the break.

The second half was barely underway when Mulcahy pounced again. With more time and space than she possibly needed, the corner forward cut in from the left to power the ball past Byrne and into the roof of the net.

Heffernan responded with a point for Mayo, cancelled out immediately by an Angela Murphy white flag for Cork. Beyond Mulcahy's goals, the third turning point of the game came minutes later, as Mayo had three goal chances in the space of a minute, but only came away with a point.

Firstly, Fiona McHale came storming through only to see her shot blocked down by an instant flurry of red shirts. Mayo came right back again and Staunton saw a powerful goal-bound effort tipped over the bar by Harte in the Cork goal.

From the kick-out Mayo found themselves in a good goalscoring position yet again, but the attack was broken up. The Connacht side began to wilt after that as Cork sent over three points without reply.

With the clock ticking but the contest well over, Staunton cemented her status as Mayo's best player by driving a free kick into the roof of the net past three Cork defenders and the goalkeeper, before McHale made put a gloss on the score line right at the end, by tucking the ball home after a rebound fell invitingly for her inside the square.

CORK: E Harte; C Walsh, A Walsh, Rena Buckley; L Barrett, B Stack, B Corkery; J Murphy (0-1, 1f), N Kelly; G O'Flynn (0-3), L McMahon, N Cleary (0-2); V Mulcahy (2-1, 1-0 pen, 1f), A Murphy (0-3), D O'Reilly (0-1).

Subs used: Rhona Buckley for N Kelly (half-time), Mairead Kelly for McMahon (48 mins), S O'Reilly for Barrett, A O'Shea for Cleary (both 57), C Foley for C Walsh (58)

MAYO: Y Byrne; S McGing, H Lohan, N O'Se; M Heffernan, M Carter, C McGing (0-1); C Egan, C O'Hara; F McHale (1-0), C Staunton (1-2, 1-0f), C McDermott; A Herbert, C Heffernan, D O'Hora (0-2, 2f).

Subs used: L Cafferky for Herbert (30 mins), M Kelly for O'Se (half-time), J Moran for McDermott (48).

Referee: Eugene O'Hare (Down)

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