Cork 2-15 Monaghan 0-12
Eamon Ryan’s Cork side booked their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship final with a comfortable nine-point point victory over Monaghan at St Brendan’s Park in Birr this afternoon.
The holders will face Kerry in the All-Ireland final on September 30 – in what will be a repeat meeting of the Munster final between the counties in July, a game Cork won by six points.
Kerry boss William O’Sullivan was an interested spectator as Cork avenged their Bord Gáis Energy National League Division 1 final defeat against Ulster champions Monaghan by scoring an impressive All-Ireland semi-final win.
If Cork see off the Kingdom in the showpiece decider at Croke Park, they’ll have won the All-Ireland title in seven of the last eight seasons.
In a repeat of the 2008 and 2011 finals, Cork led by 1-9 to 0-6 at half-time and it was a devastating scoring blitz before the break that put the holders in a real comfort zone.
Monaghan, with the aid of the breeze in the first half, led by 0-5 to 0-4 in the 18th minute but Cork opened up with a run of 1-5 without reply to cruise into a seven-point lead.
Valerie Mulcahy, quiet until then, began to cause real problems for Monaghan captain and full back Sharon Courtney.
And after the superb Briege Corkery had kicked her second point of the game to bring Cork level at 0-5 apiece, the Leesiders scored the opening goal of the game.
It was a move instigated from inside the Cork half and finished by Rhona Ní Bhuachalla, who also netted against Monaghan in last year’s final.
Ní Bhuachalla was one of three late changes to the Cork starting line-up and the deadly forward justified her inclusion with a cool finish, rounding Linda Martin before slotting the ball into an empty net.
Mulcahy added three points on the trot, including two from play, before inspirational midfielder Juliet Murphy kicked a 27th minute point – her third of the half.
Shellshocked Monaghan responded through Ciara McAnespie before Murphy dragged a free wide with the final kick of the half when a score would have propelled Cork into a seven-point interval lead.
Monaghan opened the second half with three unanswered points to reduce the deficit to just three points but in typical fashion, Cork hit back with three successive scores of their own.
And for the remainder of a tie played out in front of a healthy attendance, Cork kept Monaghan comfortably at arm’s length.
Experienced defender Angela Walsh made a welcome return to the Cork colours in the second half, coming on as a second half sub for Ciara O’Sullivan.
Worryingly for Cork, O’Sullivan went off with a knee injury that must put her final participation in some doubt.
O’Sullivan suffered cruciate knee ligament damage against Tyrone in the 2010 quarter-final and Cork management will hope that the Mourneabbey player has not suffered a serious injury on this occasion.
Gallant Monaghan never gave up in the second half but any faint hopes of a comeback were snuffed out when Nollaig Cleary pounced from close range for Cork’s second goal near the end, after a long-range free had struck the Monaghan upright.
Cork will start as red-hot favourites to lift the Brendan Martin Cup again when they face Kerry in the final. A remarkable era of dominance shows no signs of ending just yet and whenever the questions are asked of this remarkable bunch of players, they just keep on responding.
Cork: N Cleary 1-2, V Mulcahy 0-5 (3f), J Murphy 0-4 (2f), R Ní Bhuachalla 1-0, B Corkery & O Finn 0-2 each.
Monaghan: C McConnell 0-4 (2f), N Kindlon 0-4f, C McAnespie, E McCarron, L McEnaney & C Mohan 0-1 each.
CORK: E Harte; A.M. Walsh, B Stack, D O’Reilly; B Corkery, R Buckley, G O’Flynn; J Murphy, N Kelly; O Farmer, C O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan; N Cleary, V Mulcahy, R Ní Bhuachalla.
Subs: L McMahon for Farmer (42), O Finn for Ní Bhuachalla (50), Angela Walsh for C O’Sullivan (51), A Hutchings for Kelly (54), Annie Walsh for Cleary (58).
MONAGHAN: L Martin; G McNally, S Courtney, C Reilly; T McNally, N Fahy, A McAnespie; A Casey, E McElroy; C McAnespie, L McEnaney, C Mohan; C McConnell, N Kindlon, C Courtney.
Subs: E McCarron for McElroy (25).
Referee: J Niland (Sligo).