Dublin 3-11 Cork 1-12
For the third year in a row, the ladies football final broke the record for the most attended women’s sporting event in Europe.
50,141 came through the gates of Croke Park today to watch Limerick, Tyrone and Dublin be crowned All Ireland champions. In the senior final, Dublin retained the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time in their history, recording their first championship victory over Cork.
Cork dominated possession in the opening five minutes but couldn’t translate that on the scoreboard. When Dublin got their chances, they took them. Captain, Sinead Aherne pointed a free before adding another immediately from play. It took until the 10th minute for Cork to get on the scoreboard through a free from Orla Finn. Although the pace and movement of the Dublin forwards got the better of their opponents on a number of occasions, their decision making under pressure often let them down and allowed Cork to overturn the ball.
Finn kicked them the Rebelettes ahead through frees but her opposite number, Nicole Owens soon levelled up the game. The Dubs took this game by the scruff of the neck when Niamh McEvoy was deemed to have been brought down in the box, resulting in a penalty which Aherne buried. They almost had another goal moments later only for a miscalculated final pass once again. Áine O’Sullivan replied well with her side’s first point from play in the 18th minute but Cork’s forwards struggled to gain possession against the determined Dublin defence.
A period of confusion in the Dublin box brought the 2016 champions right back into the game. Referee, Garryowen McMahon appeared to signal a free out after a Dublin defender was fouled but Cork played on and the ball was passed to O’Sullivan who expertly aimed it past Ciara Trant and with no objection from the referee, the goal stood and levelled the game for the third time.
Cúl!! Críoch den scoth ag Áine O'Sullivan do @CorkLGFA
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) September 16, 2018
Dublin, led by Aherne, responded like experienced champions. After the St Sylvester’s club woman pointed a free, Carla Rowe brilliantly buried a goal effort. A further point from McEvoy left the reigning champions four points ahead at the break.
The opening of the second-half proved to be just as tight an affair as the first. Owens and Finn traded points before Eimear Scally sent a shot at goal from a difficult angle. The goalkeeper was beaten but Niamh Collins had trotted back onto her line to make a magnificent last-ditch save. Dublin’s forwards were still proving to be a handful for the Cork defence but found themselves surrounded on a number of occasions with no opportunity to shoot. The referee awarded them two relatively easy frees, one of which Aherne pointed to stretch their lead to three points.
Cork were guilty of being wasteful with possession, sending three efforts in-a-row, into the arms of Trant. However, they exploited the poor discipline in the Dublin defence, allowing Finn to bring the game back to within one point. But this only spurred the Dubs on once again. Some excellent movement in the Cork box allowed Rowe space to guide the ball past O’Brien for her second goal.
Carla Rowe le cúl eile do @dublinladiesg!
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) September 16, 2018
As Cork began to tire, Dublin found that their scoring opportunities came easier. Finn and Aherne traded frees before Noelle Healy grabbed her first point of the game. To the delight of the sizeable Dublin crowd, Aherne eased over an excellent point to but them six points up. Doireann O’Sullivan managed to reduce the gap to five but it was Dublin’s day. Mick Bohan’s side retain the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time in their history.
Cork: Martina O’Brien; Eimear Meaney, Róisín Phelan, Melissa Duggan; Maire O’Callaghan, Shauna Kelly, Emma Spillane; Ashling Hutchings, Hannah Looney; Ciara O’Sullivan (0-1), Libby Coppinger, Eimear Scally; Áine O’Sullivan (1-2), Doireann O’Sullivan (0-1), Orla Finn (0-8, 8f).
Substitutions: Saoirse Noonan for Coppinger (HT) Orlagh Farmer for Looney (54) Chloe Collins for Spillane (54)
Dublin: Ciara Trant; Martha Byrne, Sinead Finnegan, Leah Caffrey; Sinead Goldrick, Siobhan McGrath, Niamh Collins; Lauren Magee, Olwen Carey; Carla Rowe (2-0), Noelle Healy (0-1), Lyndsey Davey; Sinead Aherne (1-6, 3f, 1 pen), Niamh McEvoy (0-1), Nicole Owens (0-2).
Substitutions: Jennifer Dunne for Owens (52) Hannah O’Neill forMcEvoy (53) Amy Connolly for Healy (59)