ANTHONY NEWMAN REPORTS
A GOAL just before half-time from Brid O'Sullivan was crucial as Cork got their TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship campaign off to a winning start at Birr.
In a close and tense game the experience of Cork told in the end with Ciara O'Sullivan and Aine O'Sullivan superb in the second half ensuring Cork took the points.
Orla Finn was the first to score when she pointed from a free in the first minute, with Stacey Grimes replying for Meath. Sadhbh O'Leary got the first point from play for Cork, while a sweeping move out of defence saw Emma Duggan make it 0-2 apiece.
With nine minutes gone Meath had the ball in the net but referee, John Devlin, ruled it out for a square ball. Another Finn free had Cork back in front and just before the water break when they led 0-3 to 0-2.
Points from Finn and Ciara O'Sullivan increased Cork's lead, although around that time Meath missed a number of opportunities from frees, which proved crucial in the end.
Grimes landed a free in the 28th minute, while Aoibhin Cleary roamed forward to put one between the sides.
However just before half-time a crossfield pass from Hannah Looney found Melissa Duggan who burst in from the wing. She beat several defenders and her pass found Brid O'Sullivan who had the simple task of tapping into the empty net to see Cork lead 1-5 to 0-4 at half-time.
Both sides missed chances early in the second-half before Grimes pointed from a free, while Looney's protest saw her sin-binned for 10 minutes. Finn pointed from a free to keep four between them, but then had to go off injured, which was a huge loss to Cork.
Grimes landed a free, with Duggan replying for Cork, but Meath made the extra player count, with points from Lynch and Niamh O'Sullivan closing the gap to 1-7 to 0-8.
Late on, a brilliant one-two between O'Leary and Eimear Scally sent Scally in on goal, only for Meath keeper, Monica McGuirk, to save superbly when a goal looked certain.
Grimes pointed from another free with Scally replying for Cork. And in a tense finish Duggan scored for Meath but in the end Cork held solid to claim the spoils.
Scorers – Cork: O Finn 0-4 (3f), B O'Sullivan 1-0, E Scally 0-2 (2f), S O'Leary 0-1, M Duggan 0-1, C O'Sullivan 0-1. Meath: S Grimes 0-5 (5f), E Duggan 0-2, A Cleary 0-1, N O'Sullivan 0-1, B Lynch 0-1.
CORK: M O’Brien; M Cahalane, R Phelan, M Ambrose; E O’Shea, A Hutchings, M Duggan; M O’Callaghan, H Looney; L Coppinger, C O’Sullivan, O Finn; S O’Leary, B O’Sullivan, E Scally. Subs: E Kiely for O'Callaghan (15, inj), A O'Sullivan for Coppinger (ht), D Kiely for Finn (38, inj), K Quirke for B O'Sullivan (50), S Kelly for E Kiely (55).
MEATH: M McGuirk; E Troy, M.K. Lynch, K Newe; A Leahy, A Cleary, O Byrne; V Wall, M O’Shaughnessy; S Ennis, S Grimes, N O’Sullivan; O Lally, E Duggan, B Lynch. Subs: M Thynne for Leahy (38), N Gallogly for Byrne (38), S Melia for Lally (55).
Referee: John Devlin (Galway).