Cork maintained their stranglehold at the top of the Lidl National Football League Division 1 standings with a memorable 0-8 to 1-4 Croke Park victory over Dublin on Saturday night.
The ever-dependable Orla Finn kicked five points for the visitors, while Hannah Looney also chipped with 0-2 during an industrious display in very difficult conditions.
Carla Rowe led the way with 1-2 for Dublin but despite enjoying a late flourish, they fell to their first loss of the campaign.
Cork, after dropping some early shots into the hands of Dublin goalkeeper Ciara Trant, took the lead through centre-back Melissa Duggan’s fifth-minute point.
While they didn’t always capitalise on the opportunities that fell their way, a brace from the reliable Finn extended the lead for Ephie Fitzgerald’s charges. Rowe kicked the hosts into gear with a two-point salvo, but Cork subsequently reinforced their authority.
Finn registered 0-13 when the Munster side overcame Dublin in last year’s league semi-final and she split the posts at the end of an intricate attacking move before adding a routine free on 24 minutes to make it 0-5 to 0-2 for Cork at the break.
Maire O’Callaghan and Looney were combining to good effect in midfield, and it was the latter who took the charge when the action resumed.
The Aghada star landed points from play with side of another Finn free to give Cork a firm control of the proceedings.
Dublin, despite struggling to impose their attacking game against a watertight Cork defence, received a lifeline midway in the third quarter when Rowe slotted home a penalty into the bottom right corner of the net after a foul on Oonagh Whyte.
Five-time All-Star Lyndsey Davey was simultaneously introduced off the bench for her seasonal return as Mick Bohan’s side, who secured their sole league title in 2018, looked set for a big finish to the contest.
And they certainly ramped up the pressure on the league champions in a frenetic finish with Hannah O’Neill and Davey shooting points.
But they were unable to draw level with a free from Rowe in the dying moments drifting wide as Cork held on for victory.
With cancellations of matches happening right around the country, Galway kept pace with Ephie Fitzgerald’s side following their 3-12 to 4-5 win over Donegal, where a Tracey Leonard hat-trick was critical for the westerners in Letterkenny.
Nicole Gordon hit two goals for Donegal, while Amy Boyle Carr and Geraldine McLaughlin also found the net, but Maxi Curran’s side fell short of last year’s Lidl league finalists.
In Division 2 of the Lidl NFL Tyrone defeated Clare in the Saturday night fixture, where Gerry Moane’s side claimed a 3-7 to 1-7 victory, while Bridgetta Lynch’s goal early in the second half secured a 1-13 to 0-9 win for Meath against Monaghan.
In the same competition Kerry maintained the only 100 per cent record in the division as they held on to claim a 2-12 to 2-10 win against Armagh after the Kingdom had led by seven points at the interval.
Aoife McCoy and Blaithin Mackin goaled late on for the Ulster side but the Munster side had just enough in reserve to claim their third win and sole leadership at the top of the standings.
All four games in Division 3 fell foul to the weather, but in Division 4 there were wins for Louth, Offaly and Leitrim.
The Connacht outfit were the most comprehensive winners with Muireann Devanney’s late strike putting the seal on a big 7-10 to 0-2 victory in Ballinamore.
Offaly did the damage in their first half against Derry at Owenbeg. The visitors were 2-4 to 0-5 ahead at the break before they cruised to a 3-8 to 0-8 success.
The other game was much more competitive with Louth coming out on the right side of a 2-10 to 1-9 scoreline in Cooley.