‘We might have been underdogs but within our own camp we didn’t feel like that'

June 8th, 2023 12:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Cork dual star Libby Coppinger breaks past Kerry goalkeeper Ciara Butler to score a goal in the early stages of the 2023 Munster football final. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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CORK 5-14

KERRY 2-17


THE king is alive, long live the current king who has no intentions of relinquishing their throne.

A four-goal first-half blast inspired Cork to TG4 Munster LGFA senior football championship final victory over Kerry in Mallow.

The Rebels captured their fourth consecutive provincial senior title thanks to a marvellous first-half performance that yielded four unanswered goals.

St Colum’s dual star Libby Coppinger twice found the net with Ciara O’Sullivan and Katie Quirke also raising green flags as Shane Ronayne’s side built an unassailable 4-10 to 0-7 interval lead.

Last year’s All-Ireland finalists and current Division 1 champions, Kerry, had no answer to Cork’s swift movement and accurate kick-passing.

Despite a poor third quarter, Cork had enough left in the tank to hold off the Kingdom’s attempted comeback with Orlaith Cahalane’s second-half goal confirming victory.

The contrast in each teams’ top scorers was another talking point from a Munster final played out in front of a large attendance.

Doireann O’Sullivan looked back to her marauding best and finished with 0-11. Kerry’s Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh contributed 0-6, but missed two second-half penalties, one wide and one saved. To be fair to the Kerry stalwart, those spot-kick misses mattered little by the time the final whistle had sounded.

The manner of Cork’s comprehensive victory was the main headline grabber however, as Ronayne’s side produced their best performance in over a year.

‘Doireann O’Sullivan has been outstanding the last few weeks and didn’t miss a shot at training the other night,’ Ronayne said.

‘It was an unbelievable display from Doireann and our inside forward line. They worked so hard and there was great movement from the three of them (O’Sullivan, Katie Quirke and Orlaith Cahalane). They are very clever footballers.

‘Our half-forwards too, were able to run at Kerry and open them up. I just think that everything we have been working on for the last while came to fruition today.’

Cork's Orlaith Cahalane battling with Kerry's Ciara Murphy.



It was 2-5 to 0-1 after the opening ten minutes as Cork blitzed Kerry from the first whistle. Four Doireann O’Sullivan points and another from Eimear Kiely were added to by a brace of Libby Coppinger goals. Both of Coppinger’s goals were created by Orlaith Cahalane.

Anna Galvin offered a bewildered Kerry’s only response after Cork netminder Meabh O’Sullivan denied Hannah O’Donoghue a certain goal.

The second quarter saw Aishling O’Connell, Niamh Ní Chonchúir, Lorraine Scanlon, Danielle O’Leary and a closely marked Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (two) efforts take the Kingdom’s total to 0-7.

Solid at the back, Cork continued to pour forward during that same timeframe. Ciara O’Sullivan slalomed through for her team’s third goal after kicking a point and Orlaith Cahalane also raised a white flag.

The tireless Katie Quirke was rewarded with Cork’s fourth goal on the stroke of half time.

Down 4-10 to 0-7 at the break, Kerry overcame a missed Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh penalty to kick four consecutive points during the third quarter. Then Hannah O’Donoghue found the net to further reduce the deficit.

Orlaith Cahalane extinguished any Kerry hopes of building on their attempted comeback with a superbly taken goal.

The last quarter was a scrappy affair, Ní Mhuircheartaigh seeing a second penalty saved by Meabh O’Sullivan. It was fitting that the game’s standout player, Doireann O’Sullivan, had the final say, kicking Cork’s last three points in a 5-14 to 2-17 triumph.

Cork captain Maire O'Callaghan lifts the cup.



‘We were coming in as underdogs even though we didn’t feel that way ourselves,’ Cork boss Ronayne explained.

‘That’s the reality of it as Kerry have been one of the top teams in the country for the last couple of years and won the national league.

‘We might have been underdogs but within our own camp we didn’t feel like that.

‘We know ourselves we can be better than what we were today, and still looking for that complete performance. It was very hard to keep going, at full pace for 60 minutes, even though we played some unbelievable football.

‘We are delighted. There is a brilliant bunch there and they are very committed. They have put in phenomenal work since the league finished. Four games in five weeks, tough going.

‘We move on but I have a feeling we might meet Kerry again before the end of the year.’

Cork’s reward for firing five goals past Kerry and claiming a fourth Munster SFC title in a row is an All-Ireland series championship grouping with Galway and Tipperary. Based on Sunday’s performance, Cork have every right to look forward to those upcoming clashes with renewed confidence.

Things Cork football fans like to see: scoreboards like this.



Cork: D O’Sullivan 0-11 (6f); L Coppinger 2-0; C O’Sullivan, O Cahalane 1-1 each; K Quirke 1-0; E Kiely 0-1.

Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-6 (4f); H O’Donoghue 1-2; F Tangney 1-0; D O’Leary 0-3; A O’Connell 0-2; A Galvin, N Ní Chonchúir, L Scanlon, L Galvin 0-1 each.

CORK: M O’Sullivan; A Ryan, E Meaney, R Phelan; M Duggan, S Kelly, S Leahy; A Healy, H Looney; L Coppinger, D O’Sullivan, E Kiely; O Cahalane, K Quirke, C O’Sullivan.

Subs: L O’Mahony for S Leahy, E Cleary for A Ryan (both 48), L Fitzgerald for L Coppinger (54), D Kiely for O Cahalane (56), D Kiniry for R Phelan (59).

KERRY: C Butler; E Lynch, K Cronin, A Dillane; A O’Connell, E Costello, C Murphy; L Scanlon, C Lynch; N Carmody, N Ní Chonchúir, A Galvin; H O’Donoghue, D O’Leary, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh (captain).

Subs: L Galvin for A Dillane (18), A Harrington for N Carmody (48), S O’Shea for N Ní Mhuircheartaigh (54), N Broderick for A O’Connell (57).

Referee: Shane Curley (Galway).

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