Cork 1-9 Dublin 2-4
Cork are Ladies NFL Division One champions once again, but they had to win a mighty battle to hold on to their crown in today's Parnell Park thriller.
Eamonn Ryan’s side came from behind to defeat a courageous Dublin side appearing in the final for their first time.
For long spells, it looked as if the challengers could cause a shock, but in the end, the Munster side’s vast experience carried them to an eighth title since 2005.
It took Dublin some time to get going, but they exploded into action in spectacular fashion with a brilliant tenth minute goal.
Noelle Healy opened up the Cork defence with a weaving run along the left, before slipping the ball inside with perfect timing to Linsday Peat, who gave Martina O’Brien no chance with a bullet-like finish.
But Cork responded four minutes later with an even better goal, Orlagh Farmer sending a screamer to the net after Ciara O’Sullivan and Annie Walsh had combined smartly in the build-up.
Dublin full-back Sorcha Furlong intervened with a vital interception as Valerie Mulcahy and Farmer conspired to create an opening
Roisin Phelan and Angela Walsh remained solid at the back for Cork, forcing wind-assisted Dublin to shoot from difficult positions.
Defending in numbers and breaking at pace, the Rebelettes absorbed a spell of pressure, but they too were denied clear-cut scoring opportunities by the tenacious Furlong and Sinead Finnegan.
Lyndsey Davey levelled for Dublin in the 23rd minute, and they struck at devastating pace for a second goal in the 26th minute.
Once again, Healy got the play going from deep, linking with Davey, and it was Peat once again who got on the end of the move to crash her shot past O’Brien.
Wing back Carla Rowe was a constant creative force for a Dublin side that was performing with passion and intensity, and went into the break leading by 2-1 to 1-2.
Davey continued to torment the Cork rearguard, scoring the opening point of the second half and creating a score for Sinead Aherne as the Metropolitans went four clear.
But Cork, with Ciara O’Sullivan running at the heart of the Dublin defence, began to get some momentum going.
O’Sullivan won a couple of frees which Mulcahy converted, and wing back Geraldine O’Flynn narrowed the gap to a single point.
Now Cork were using all their experience to turn over possession and support the ball-carrier, and the rewards came their way in the form of a string of scores.
Five points on the spin saw them take the lead in the 45th minute through Doireann O’Sullivan.
O’Flynn was immense during this highly productive spell for the defending champions, with skipper Briege Corkery also hugely instrumental in their revival.
Defenders Roisin Phelan and Vera Foley put their bodies on the line as the Dubs were held scoreless for 24 minutes, until Aherne converted a free to make it a one-point game with little over five minutes to play
But that was as good as it got for Dublin, as O’Flynn’s late free clinched it for the holders.
Cork: M O’Brien, A Walsh, B Stack, V Foley, AM Walsh, G O’Flynn (0-2, 1f), R Buckley, B Corkery, A Walsh, C O’Sullivan, O Farmer (1-0), E Farmer, D O’Sullivan (0-1), V Mulcahy (0-5, 4f).
Subs: D O’Reilly (0-1) for AM Walsh, E Scully for A Walsh, O Finn for Farmer, G Kearney for Farmer, N Kelly for Foley
Dublin: C O’Connor, S McGrath, S Furlong, R Ruddy, S Goldrick, S Finnegan, C Rowe, D Masterson, S McCaffrey, S Woods, N McEvoy, N Healy, L Davey (0-2), S Aherne (0-2, 1f), L Peat (2-0).
Subs: D Murphy for Woods, N Hyland for McEvoy, O Leonard for Masterson
Referee: J Niland (Sligo).