Cork’s hoodoo when it comes to big games against Galway continued at Croke Park tonight as the Tribeswomen, six points down, started the second half in a four-point win and their Littlewoods Ireland National Camogie League title Division One defended.
The All-Ireland champions have now won five consecutive big league and championship games against Cork, dating back to the 2019 All-Ireland semi-finals, and it wasn’t just on the scoreboard that this was the most sovereign of them all.
When Amy O’Connor capped off an excellent close-range attack early in the second half, the Rebels held a 1-10, 7-0 lead and it looked like their added variety and reach in the sector should see them win .
Galway’s bench, led by Carrie Dolan, was to change that game. Dolan, Catherine Finnerty and Sarah Spellman added tremendous energy and panache to the westerners, while Sabina Rabbitte also landed the insurance point at the end of the competition to confirm the win.
It was all a far cry from the early days when a young Cork side took the ground under their feet and drew Galway point for point in the first quarter before stepping in to build a three-point interval lead.
Fiona Keating had caused Galway captain Sarah Dervan some near-goal problems at full forward position, quashing pre-game rumors that she would be out with a hand injury, but it was from half-back and midfield that the Rebels really were taking control. Ashling Thompson fired from three wonderful first-half points while full-backs Saoirse McCarthy and Laura Hayes were also in great form, pushing forward and delivering another trio of goals.
Laura Tracey was fictionally decked out as a full-back, but with Méabh Murphy dropping low, Tracey absorbed a world of the ball from a sweeping roll, consistently putting Cork on the front foot.
Galway had good early results from Niamh Kilkenny and Áine Keane but really only Ailish O’Reilly offered a consistent offensive threat as she finished the game with five points, four in the first half.
Stunning work from Laura Hayes and Katrina Mackey set O’Connor up for an easy goal less than a minute after half-time and it looked like Cork would win their first league title in nine years.
Crucially, Galway responded with the next two points through Orlaith McGrath and O’Reilly before a joint substitution brought Carrie Dolan and Catherine Finnerty into play.
The duo made an instant impression, winning a free-kick together which Dolan converted and with just a minute from the three-quarter mark, Finnerty took a pass from Niamh Hanniffy and slammed two defenders with a single side step before slipping the ball under Amy Lee to shut the game level.
Cork responded well initially when Saoirse McCarthy fired her third point from a pre-planned puckout move, but by then they had lost all control of the middle third.
With Dolan immediately at the center of the attack, Galway soon hit the front line. The Clarinbridge player finished the game with a free kick, then threw up a good diagonal ball and shot past her marker to score an important second goal.
Again Cork tried to reply but a glorious scoring opportunity was missed by Emma Murphy just off the post and they were unable to mount another attack. Two free-kicks from Dolan widened the gap to five, Katrine Mackey responded with two dead ball cork points in added time, but now Galway only needed to defend their goal to retain their league title, with Rabbitte’s late goal icing on the cake, again a national one Title.
Goalscorers for Galway: C Dolan 1:4 (0:3f), A O’Reilly 0:5 (0:2f), C Finnerty 1:0, N Kilkenny 0:1, Á Keane 0:1, A Donohue 0 :1, O. McGrath 0-1, S Rabbitte 0-1
THROWER FOR CORK: A. Thompson 0:3, S. McCarthy 0:3, K. Mackey 0:3 (0:2f), A. O’Connor 1:0, F. Keating 0:2, L. Hayes 0:1, C .Sigerson 0:1f.
Galway: Sarah Healey; R Hanniffy, S Dervan, Shauna Healy; R Black, E Helebert, D Higgins; A Donohue, N. Kilkenny; N. Hanniffy, A. O’Reilly, Á Keane; O McGrath, R Hennelly, S McGrath.
Subtitle: C Finnerty for Keane (38), C Dolan for S McGrath (38), S Rabbitte for O’Reilly (59), S Spellman for Hanniffy (60+2), T Kenny for Black (60+2).
CORK: A Lee; Coppinger L, Tracey L, Cahalane M; S McCarthy, M Murphy, L Hayes; K O’Mahoney, A Thompson; K Mackey, C Sigerson, I O’Regan; C Healy, F Keating, A O’Connor.
Subtitle: E Murphy for Healy (30), M Ring for Sigerson (52), A Smith for Keating (60+2).
REFEREE: John Dermody (Westmeath)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/camogie/galway-fight-back-from-six-points-down-to-beat-cork-and-secure-division-one-title-41538333.html Galway fights back from six points to beat Cork and secure the Division One title