Cork experience proved crucial, says Ciara O’Sullivan

Cork captain Ciara O’Sullivan said her side’s experience was a key factor in winning yesterday’s tight All-Ireland ladies football final over Dublin, particularly when Dublin got within a point of her side in the second half.

“There is a bit of worry but we’ve been in tight games, in tight situations, and you’d hope that experience would stand to you. You’d rather be one point up than one point down, so we were happy enough.” O’Sullivan was delighted with the win an “unbelievable battle” with Dublin.

“I’m very proud, and just relieved,” said O’Sullivan. “After a battle like that it takes a while to catch your breath and let sink in what happened.

“It was unbelievable, just as we knew it would be, and we were delighted to get over the line by a narrow margin.

Cork Ladies Football Team Crowned All-Ireland Champions. Video by Eddie O’Hare.

“We didn’t play as well as we could in the first half, and maybe Dublin would feel the same. I think in the first half of an All-Ireland final you’re never going to play as well as you can, there’s a lot of nerves around and the feeling out of the other team.

“Dublin play a defensive enough system and going in level at half-time, we were happy enough, not having played as well as we would have liked, to be still in there.” Within minutes of the final whistle there was talk that wing-back Geraldine O’Flynn, forced off injured in the first half, had given an inspirational half-time speech.

“Even when Geraldine isn’t injured, whenever she talks everyone has massive respect for her,” said O’Sullivan.

“She’s an unbelievable player and has given unbelievable service to Cork, so on an ordinary day everyone would have massive respect for her, but today she was devastated, and she just wanted us to go out and do what she couldn’t do.

“We had the chance to do it and everyone wanted to do it for Ger, with all the games she’s won for us — none more so than last year, with the winning point.” The attendance of 31,083 was the biggest in Europe this year for a women’s sporting event, and O’Sullivan was conscious of the crowd.

“You’d notice it when you hit a wide or a score. The crowd really gets behind you. It was unbelievable to run out onto Croke Park, in Dublin, and for the crowd from Cork to be as big as the Dublin crowd.

“It makes a big difference and we were glad we could repay the supporters who came all the way up.” She acknowledged that the period after the break was crucial for Cork: “The first ten minutes after half-time we popped over a few points, the kind of scores we’d missed in the first half with wides and bad choices for shots.

“That ten minutes was very important but we did sit back a bit and let Dublin come at us afterwards — if there were another match to play that’s what we’d be working on, but luckily we got over the line today.

“Dublin are a great team and we knew they’d come at us again and thankfully we just held out.” The Cork skipper wasn’t blaming windy conditions for her shooting.

“No, though with some of my shooting I should maybe say there was. It was an ideal day for football — no wind, no rain, no sun. Can’t complain.

“That (wayward shooting) comes with nerves. It’s the biggest day of the year, what you’ve been training for all year, and you’re going to be nervous. But there was great pressure from the backs too.”


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