Brendan Martin becomes obsession for Cork ladies

Winning pretty, winning ugly. It doesn’t matter to them at this stage. So long as Brendan Martin is sitting at the front of the bus on the journey home to Cork on Monday afternoon, they’re a content bunch.

They’ve done shoot-outs, 14-point annihilations and 10-point comebacks.

Sunday was a struggle, a grind, an exercise in outliving the opposition rather than outclassing them.

“We’ve an addiction,” remarked Valerie Mulcahy shortly after securing her 10th All-Ireland medal.

And it was this obsession with winning that saw them fall over the finishing line at GAA headquarters on Sunday evening.

Twelve red shirts were stationed inside the Cork square when Dublin’s Sinéad Goldrick pulled the trigger on goal with less than 15 seconds remaining.

No, it certainly wasn’t pretty, but this Cork team are too long in the tooth to agonise over the manner of victory.

“There was a sin-bin there at the end and that was a very good tackle,” said Deirdre O’Reilly of Doireann O’Sullivan cynically pulling Lyndsey Davey to the ground as the clock ticked into the final minute.

“It was a tackle that needed to be made. There was another tackle straight after that probably could have been another yellow card.

“We did what we needed to do in the last minute. We wouldn’t exactly be a dirty team, but we want to win. At the end of the game things had to be done.

“It was hectic there at the end. We gave away the ball three times in the last 30 seconds or so. They could have got a penalty there had we had a rush of blood to the head.

“Everyone stood up, no one dived in or fouled [Sinéad Goldrick]. The ball popped up and we blocked it. There was no penalty, thank God.”

Having watched team-mate Bríd Stack foil Goldrick’s kick, it was the centre-back who carried the ball to the safe confines of the corner-flag as the crowd counted down the final five seconds.

“Winning by two is scary. I don’t know how we won that game, again. It is the same feeling as last year, just pure shock.

“The rush at the end, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I just can’t believe we have won this year again.

“All the time people have been saying 10 (in a row), but we had just been looking forward to this game. We just wanted to win this game. Now it is 10 and it is unbelievable.

“Every year the heart is in your mouth for about 10 minutes after the game. I don’t know how we do it to ourselves year after year. Can I do it to myself for another year? It is just hectic. It is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.” Further along the corridor underneath the Hogan Stand, Rena Buckley is asked if she needs to pinch herself. Is this all real, a 16th All-Ireland medal at the age of 27? Unfathomable, almost.

“It is unbelievable,” exclaims the Cork midfielder.

“It is nothing you dwell on or think of at the start of the year.

“When we hang up the boots it is something we will look back on. Today, it is all about the team and the team had a great win. We are delighted.

“Football has been such a huge part of all of our lives. We’ve got so much out of it. We are just so grateful to have such a great run.”

Buckley insists there was no special ingredient to this latest All-Ireland triumph. Hard-work, she says, returned Cork to the summit for another year.

“Dublin came in droves, they came at pace and they came at angles. They were very difficult to stop. Thankfully, they just didn’t quite get enough runs and that goes down to the team-work throughout the team.

“There has been a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people. Thanks be to God we came out on top.

“We have had great success over the years. Croke Park is a terrible place to lose and when you win here it is fantastic. We came here to do a job, we did it and we are happy out.”


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