Cork complete clean sweep of Munster titles from U14 to senior
NOEL HORGAN REPORTS
THE gulf in class was glaringly obvious as Cork romped to victory over Kerry in the inaugural Munster U21 Ladies Football final at Mallow.
Dictating matters from the outset, the Leeside girls built up an insurmountable lead, 4-7 to 0-1, in the first half, the goals coming from Aisling Healy (2), Ciara Hartnett and Christine Moran.
Healy and Moran caused major problems for the Kerry rearguard before the break when Hartnett, who lined up at midfield, also made a laudable impact at wing forward.
Katie Horgan and Annaliese Muphy ruled the roost around the middle, while Jenny Drew-Murphy and Sarah Hayes backboned a commanding defence in which corner back Sophie Hurley regularly caught the eye in front of flawless custodian Caoimhe Forde.
With Cork, aided by a goal from Aisling Healy, leading by 1-3, Forde proved her worth with a fine save in the 13th minute from Kerry’s Jadyn Lucey, who had shaved the butt of the upright with a cracking drive earlier, and looked very threatening at corner forward during the opening exchanges.
Sarah Leahy was another to impress at centre back for the losers, but Cork were by far the better-balanced outfit, with every player putting a shoulder to the wheel over the hour.
Kerry’s first score didn’t arrive until Cliona Coffey pointed in the 14th minute, and Cork were 3-5 to 0-1 to the good before Jadyn Lucey added to the loser’s tally from a free.
Cork’s first-half return was completed when Annaliese Muphy and Jenny Drew-Dinan bagged points at either side of a second goal from Aisling Healy, who made the most of a golden opportunity resulting from great work by lively centre-back Drew-Dinan.
There was to be no significant change in the trend of the play after the interval, although erratic shooting prevented Cork from transferring their superiority to the scoreboard until Aisling Healy was fouled in the square and expertly converted the resultant penalty to make it 5-10 to 0-5 in the 52nd minute.
Christine Moran fired home two goals for Cork to complete her hat-trick in the closing stages when Fiona Nelligan and substitute Mollie O’Carroll both found the net for Kerry, making the scoreboard look a little more respectable at the finish of what, in the final analysis, was a grossly lopsided encounter.
Cork: A Healy 3-0 (1-0 pen), C Moran 3-0, C Hartnett 1-2, E Cleary 0-3 (2f), S Dinan, A Murphy 0-2 each, J Drew-Dinan, K Horgan 0-1 each.
Kerry: F Nelligan, M O’Carroll 1-0 each, S Lucey 0-3 (2f), C Coffey, K O’Mahony, N O’Connor 0-1 each.
Cork: C Forde (Kanturk); S Hurley (Bandon), S Hayes (Rosscarbery), E Fitzgerald (Watergrasshill); S Leahy (Aghada), J Drew-Dinan (Donoughmore), C Ní Murchu (Naomh Abán); K Horgan (Knocknagree), C Hartnett (Douglas); A Murphy (Glanmire), E Cleary (Eire Óg), S Dinan (Glanmire); S Finnegan-Deane (do.), A Healy (Kilshannig), C Moran (Aghada).
Subs: E McAndrew (Douglas) for Fitzgerald (ht), L Coakley (Bantry Blues) for Leahy (ht), Fitzgerald for Cleary (45).
Kerry: R Mulvihill; G O’Connor, R Fitzgerald, A Murphy; K O’Connor, S Leahy, N O’Connell; F Nelligan, E McCarthy; S Kilgallan, K O’Mahony, C Coffey; J Lucey, M Egan, N O’Mahony.
Subs: A Walsh for N O’Mahony (14), L Barrett for O’Connor (23), N O’Connor for Egan (48), M O’Carroll for Walsh (49), C Horgan for Coffey (56).
Referee: K O’Brien (Limerick).