Cork advance to Division 1 final after goalfest with Donegal
Cork 5-10 Donegal 3-13
Cork and Donegal scored a feast of goals at Tuam Stadium as defending champions Cork held their ground to advance to the Lidl National Football League, Division 1 final after a relentless victory.
Six first-half goals saw the teams even at the break, with Donegal being much happier of both teams to have played against the strong wind.
Cork got off to a perfect start and scored 2-2 in the first four minutes with Bríd and Ciara O’Sullivan shooting at the net.
But Donegal responded in style, scoring two goals 30 seconds apart.
The first came from Katy Herron after a good game from Niamh McLaughlin and Karen Guthrie. On the restart, Guthrie regained possession of the ball and finished coldly ahead of Martina O’Brien, bringing the score to 2-2 to 2-0 with eight minutes of play.
Goals continued to flow with Cork passing the ball to the other end and Mayor O’Callaghan applied the finishing touches. Ciara O’Sullivan and Finn added points for Cork, before Donegal got his third goal, with Guthrie scoring his second of the half.
But Donegal finished the stronger half of the two teams, with clearances from Geraldine McLaughlin and Guthrie helping put one between the two teams. Geraldine McLaughlin pointed at the halftime whistle to see the teams tie at the break, 3-5 to 3-5.
Guthrie got the first score of the second half with half-time substitute Eimear Scally responding for the Munster squad. Geraldine McLaughlin put Donegal back in the lead, but once again Finn equalized on the other end.
With 38 minutes remaining, Hannah Looney recovered the ball for Cork, played it to Melissa Duggan and her pass was knocked back to the net by Finn, giving Cork a crucial one-goal cushion.
Finn added a point to the restart, with Guthrie raising the white flag on the other end. Cork’s fifth goal came just before the break when Meabh Cahalane intercepted a pass from Donegal, played it to Sadhbh O’Leary who leapt forward and found Bríd O’Sullivan. O’Leary accepted the return pass and it exploded in the back of the net.
Geraldine McLaughlin struck out a point for Donegal before a double save denied them what looked like a certain goal. O’Brien initially refused Niamh McLaughlin and when Guthrie recovered the rebound she looked like she found the net, only to be refused by Róisín Phelan.
Two points from Finn saw Cork lead 5-10 to 3-12 as time went on, but Donegal with Kate McClenaghan’s shot barely crossing the bar, the full-time whistle was a welcome blast as Cork advanced to the final.
Cork: M O’Brien; S Kelly, R Phelan, E Meaney; E O’Shea, A Hutchings, M Duggan; M O’Callaghan (1-0), H Looney; O Finn (1-8, 4f), C O’Sullivan (1-1), E Spillane; S O’Leary (1-0), B O’Sullivan (1-0), L Coppinger.
Subscribers: E Scally (0-1) for Coppinger (top), D Kiely for Spillane (top), M Cahalane for Meaney (top), C O’Shea for Kelly (45).
Donegal: A McColgan; N Carr, E McGinley, E Gallagher; AM Logue, Nicole McLaughlin, R Rodgers; K Herron (1-), S Twohig; B McLaughlin, Niamh McLaughlin, N Boyle; N Hegarty, K Guthrie (2-3, 3f), G McLaughlin (0-8, 4f).
Subscribers: T Jenkins for Logue (40), K Keaney for Boyle (42), K McClenaghan (0-1) for B McLaughlin (49).
Arbitrator: Garryowen McMahon (Mayo).