Galway 3-21 Cork 4-13
Galway’s minor ladies footballers showed all the sharpness and accuracy in front of goal that their senior men failed to deliver in Croke Park on Sunday, as they recorded a five-point win over Cork in an enthralling All Ireland A final on Monday evening in Birr.
Ciana Ní Churraoin came off the bench to score two crucial second half goals as Galway retained their title and claimed a fifth crown in all.
Olivia Divilly, Louise and Nicola Ward and Megan Glynn were also in superb form and their power and athleticism around the middle of the field overwhelmed the Rebelettes, ensuring that the majority of the play was down the Cork end of the field.
That incessant pressure eventually wore down the Munster champions and substitutes Ní Churraoin and Ciara Burke took full advantage as they kicked five scores against a tiring back line to clinch the victory.
Cork’s forwards did an excellent job with scant rations in this game and three first half goals, two close range efforts from Saoirse Moore and a tidy finish from Eimear Scally, ensured that the two sides ended the first half deadlocked at 3-6 to 1-12.
A couple of wonderful saves from Méabh O’Sullivan also prevented Galway from building up too big a lead, and ten minutes into the second half the sides were still deadlocked.
Ni Churraoin struck her first major in the 41st minute to give Galway a lead they never relinquished and the last ten minutes saw them drive at the Cork goal repeatedly.
Olivia Divilly kicked two frees that were won with powerful attacking moves down the left wing and Ciara Burke picked off a close range point after excellent approach play from Shauna Hynes.
When captain Louise Ward scythed through the Cork defence and set up Ní Churraoin for their third green flag with just three minutes remaining, Cork’s task was gargantuan.
Eimear Scally produced a stunning goal to reduce the lead to four, but the Galway defence held firm and kept Cork at arm’s length until the final hooter.
Scorers for Galway: O Divilly 1-5 (0-4f), C Ní Churraoín 2-1, E Reaney 0-6, L Ward 0-3, N Ward, C Burke 0-2 each, A Joyce, S Hynes 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: E Scally 2-7 (0-5f), S Moore 2-0, H Looney 0-2, E Casey, A Heffernan, A Kelleher, E Ní Dheasmúnaigh 0-1 each.
GALWAY: S Burke; S Hynes, E Gavin, M Joyce; K Dowd, N Ward, O Murphy; M Glynn, M Heneghan; O Divilly, L Ward, S Gavin; E Reaney, A Joyce, K Carter.
Subs: C Ní Churraoín for Carter (HT), E Glynn for Murphy (45), C Burke for Gavin (50),
CORK: M O’Sullivan; A Kelleher, M Ambrose, A Nic A’Bhaird; C Hickey, E Meaney, M Duggan; N Duggan, A Heffernan; S Moore, M Corkery, E Casey; J Dennehy, H Looney, E Scally.
Subs: N Cotter for Nic A’Bhaird (HT), E Ní Dheasmúnaigh for Corkery (36), L Coppinger for Dennehy (45), S Cronan for Moore (54)
REFEREE: Terence McShea (Donegal).