Cork 1-13 Down 0-9
After experiencing bitter disappointment in Croke Park at this level over the past two years, Cork were finally crowned All Ireland intermediate champions after a brilliant win over Down this afternoon.
There was much talk before the game about Down’s route to the final. A poor league campaign, a relegation battle and a change of management before steadily making their way through the championship, winning Ulster and beating Tipperary to reach their first All Ireland intermediate final.
And it was the Ulster women who enjoyed the perfect start. Sara-Louise Carr got their first point, quickly followed by Saoirse Sands while their half-back line, Dearbhla Magee in particular, cut out any chance of a Cork attack. As Niamh Mallon scored an incredible point to put Derry 0-5 to 0-2 ahead, Magee departed with a blood injury and the game swung entirely in Cork’s favour.
Saoirse McCarthy was plucked from the minor set-up but was far from out of place at this level. The youngster grabbed three points from play as the Rebelettes scored five points without reply. It could have been much worse for Down had a substantial amount of ball not dropped short into the hands of Maria McNally. Ill-discipline allowed Cork to gain a foothold in the game and on her fourth attempt, Caroline Sugrue pointed to leave her side two points ahead at half-time.
D0wn opened the second half as they did the first with Mallon and Sands grabbing early scores. But once again, Cork came back at them. Caitriona Collins was gifted two points through frees before Sugrue put the Rebelettes three points in front. The pivotal moment in the game came in the 41st minute when Siobhan Hutchinson fielded a brilliant ball in her half-back line before it was eventually fed to Finola Neville who showed great vision to find Collins who eventually buried the ball past McNally.
Down responded brilliantly through Mallon with an immediate point but the Cork defence tightened to slow up any further threat. Matters only worsened for Down when Sara-Louise Carr was deemed to have charged, resulting in her second yellow and a subsequent red. Her sister Fionnuala who was one of Down’s best players, brilliantly knocked away a Cork challenge before scoring a free. But the comeback was always unlikely and when substitute, Cliona Healy pointed a free, it was game over for Down and Cork finally put their intermediate final nightmares to bed.
Earlier today in Croke, Dublin were crowned All Ireland junior camogie champions with a 1-12 to 0-6 win over Kerry. Aoife Bulger grabbed the game’s only goal in the 15th minute and from there, the win was never in doubt with Kerry too reliant on Patrice Diggin’s free’s.
Derry: Maria McNally; Clare McGilligan, Allannah Savage, Nicole Kelly; Bláinaid Savage, Fionnuala Carr (0-1, 1f), Dearbhla Magee; Catherine Rocks, Paula Gribben (0-1); Deirbhile Savage, Aimee McAleenan, Sara-Louise Carr (0-1); Saoirse Sands (0-2), Niamh Mallon (0-4, 2f), Orlagh Caldwell.
Substitutions: Orla Magee for Caldwell (29) Clara Cowen for McGilligan (51)
Cork: Amy Lee; Leah Weste, Sarah Harrington, Niamh Ni Chaoimh; Siobhan Hutchinson, Jennifer Barry, Lauren Callanan; Sarah Buckley, Katelyn Hickey; Laura Hayes, Finola Neville, Saoirse McCarthy (0-4); Caroline Sugrue (0-2), Maeve McCarthy, Caitriona Collins (1-6, 5f).
Substitutions: Cliona Healy (0-1, 1f) for M McCarthy (43)