The result may be a setback from a Cork perspective, but in the greater scheme of things, a significant step forward in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday as Cork’s ladies footballers got to share the stage with their male counterparts for the first time.
They say that “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it” and there were plenty of young footballers from Cork and Tipperary present to see two teams very comfortable both in their own skin, and in their new environment. It left you wondering how so simple a thing took so long to happen.
Cork’s Orla Finn was aware of the game’s significance beyond the 3-13 to 1-18 win for the Premier. “It’s fantastic and there’s been a great buzz coming into this game. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted but at least it’s going in the right direction. The profile of the game is getting bigger, there’s more exposure for ladies’ football and people are beginning to see what great games ladies football games can be. It’s brilliant that we’ve two more double headers here in Cork between now and June.”
As for the game itself, Cork will wonder how they lost given their control after 40 minutes. They led by 1-13 to 0-10. Orla Finn, Áine O’Sullivan and Sadhbh O’Leary impressed for Cork while Niamh Cotter bagged the goal. For Tipp, Aisling Moloney was irrepressible and got good support from Róisín Howard and Anna Rose Kennedy.
Moloney then turned the game on its head with a quickfire 1-1, and while Cork responded well with scores from Finn, O’Sullivan and Orla Farmer, Tipp had exposed a weakness at the heart of the Cork defence.
Moloney was again on hand to exploit that weakness when she spectacularly punched a Róisín Daly delivery to the net to leave Cork with the dreaded two-point advantage with nine to go.
Farmer then traded points with Moloney before the Aherlow player turned provider, launching a long ball into the Cork square where Caitlin Kennedy was on hand to score Tipp’s third goal and give them the lead for the first time
“We were quietly confident coming up that we had a good chance,” said Tipperary manager Shane Ronyane.
“We put Caitlin Kennedy up front, today was her first start and she is just 16-years-of-age and it was a huge boost for her to get the winning goal.”
Meanwhile Mayo manager Peter Leahy insisted his side have not gone away after they pushed the Lidl NFL and TG4 All-Ireland champions close at Croke Park.
With Rachel Kearns and Fiona Doherty on song Mayo fired three early goals against Dublin, but Mick Bohan’s side registered a strong second-half under pressure to kick on to the win.
But Leahy said he was happy that his inexperienced side pushed them hard and they will continue to fight with the top teams.
“We had six or seven players who were making their Mayo debuts on the soil that is Croke Park. That’s exciting for those players and it’s exciting for the county. But it’s going to take time. Mayo are not finished. We have not gone away. We are still there fighting away,” said Leahy.
“The result itself is not the end of the world. It’s a building process for us.”
Donegal maintained their perfect start to their campaign as the Ulster champions soared to victory over Monaghan in Letterkenny yesterday. Roisin Friel’s early goal saw Donegal lead 1-8 to 0-2 at half-time with the hosts well in command.
Midway through the second half, Julie Trearty drilled in a second Donegal goal, and manager Maxi Curran was pleased to earn the win.
“We kicked 1-8 on the bounce and that was the winning of the game for us,” said Curran.