Two first half goals enabled Cork defeat Kerry in the TG4 LGFA Munster SFC final at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney.
The Rebels retained a provincial championship title last contested in 2019 due to Covid-19 thanks to Emma Cleary (penalty) and Orla Finn green flags.
Both teams were guilty of wasting early scoring opportunities before Orla Finn cancelled out Anna Galvin’s opener. Louise Ní Mhuircheataigh converted a free but five wides in the first quarter upset the Kingdom’s rhythm.
Libby Coppinger levelled matters for a second time after Kerry’s Ciara Butler produced a brave stop. Coppinger was brought down inside the square shortly after and Emma Cleary made no mistake from the ensuing penalty.
Lorraine Scanlon reduced the deficit to make it 1-2 to 0-3 after 15 minutes. Then, a flowing Kerry move ended with Louise Ní Mhuircheataigh firing into the net after Meabh O’Sullivan parried an initial effort.
A superb Roisin Phelan block saw an entertaining half end with Orla Finn collecting a Ciara O’Sullivan pass and billowing the net. Cork were full value for their 2-6 to 1-4 interval lead.
Danielle O’Leary got Kerry’s first score of the second period and a series of turnovers enabled the Kingdom enjoy a purple patch. Yet, the hosts failure to capitalise allowed Cork reassert control.
Doireann O’Sullivan and Louise Ní Mhuircheataigh exchanged frees as Cork maintained their four-point advantage heading into the final quarter.
Ní Mhuircheataigh (free) and Danielle O’Leary brought the Kingdom to within two but Laura O’Mahony responded with a fisted point and Orla Finn (free) quickly restored their team’s advantage.
Cork finished strongly with late Áine Terry O’Sullivan and Rachel Leahy scores cementing a deserved victory.
The Rebels’ provincial final success means Shane Ronayne’s side will contest Group D of this year’s All-Ireland LGFA qualifying phase. That means round-robin matches against Donegal and Waterford. As for Kerry, Galway and Westmeath await in Group C.
O Finn (1-3, 0-1 free), E Cleary (1-0, 1-0 pen), Á T O’Sullivan (0-3), D O’Sullivan (0-2, 0-2 frees), L Coppinger, L O’Mahony and R Leahy (0-1 each).
L Ní Mhuircheartcaigh (1-4, 0-3 frees), D O’Leary (0-2), A Galvin, L Scanlon and P McCarthy (0-1 each).
M O’Sullivan; R Phelan, E Meaney, S Leahy; M Duggan, M O’Callaghan (captain), L O’Mahony; A Hutchings, S Kelly; E Cleary, C O’Sullivan, L Coppinger; Á T O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, O Finn.
Subs: K Quirke for S Kelly (33), R Leahy for E Cleary (45), M Cahalane for S Kelly (45), E Scally for D O’Sullivan (51), A O’Mahony for L O’Mahony (57).
C Butler; C O’Brien, K Cronin, E Lynch; A O’Connell, E Costello, C Murphy; A Galvin (captain), C Lynch; D O'Leary, N Carmody, L Scanlon; N Ní Chonchúir, E McGlynn, L Ní Mhuircheartcaigh.
Subs: P McCarthy for E McGlynn (22), M O’Connell for C O’Brien (ht), K Brosnan for N Ní Chonchúir (43), S O’Shea for A O’Connell (56).
Referee P Smith (Waterford).