Hero Hayes rescues West Cork with last-gasp equalising point
WEST CORK 1-10
A PULSATING Cork ladies’ senior football county final ended in a draw following Sarah Hayes’ injury-time equaliser at CIT last Saturday.
Two evenly matched sides played out a thrilling encounter in which the five-in-a-row chasing and defending champions led 1-10 to 1-9 after nine minutes of injury-time.
Admirably, West Cork refused to accept defeat and worked the ball to corner-back Sarah Hayes wide on the right wing. The Rosscarbery player showed nerves of steel by immediately floating over a superb equaliser that ensured the teams will meet again to decide the county championship this weekend.
Although Mourneabbey appeared aggrieved at the length of injury-time allowed, the champions contributed much to a memorable encounter.
Midfielders Máire O’Callaghan and Bríd O’Sullivan got through a huge amount of work in front of a solid back six and behind the game’s standout player Doireann O’Sullivan. The Cork forward finished with 1-8 including six frees and without her, Mourneabbey would have lost.
West Cork had heroines all over the pitch, none more so than Beara’s Áine Terry O’Sullivan who once again topped her team’s scoring charts. Libby Coppinger, Daire and Eimear Kiely plus Fiona Keating also featured prominently.
‘Credit to Mourneabbey for coming back from two points down and there is no doubt that they are a great team but we are thrilled to have another crack off them,’ West Cork manager Brian McCarthy said.
‘It is about belief. A lot of our girls realise that this could be their final chance (to win a senior county), you just don’t know. We asked the girls to enjoy the game but realise that we are good enough to be on the field with any other senior team. Now we have to go and prove it all over again and learn from our mistakes. We will do that.’
The county final exploded into life with Niamh Terry O’Sullivan opening the scoring with a goal after five minutes, hammering in a rebound after Fiona Keating’s initial effort cannoned back off a post.
Mourneabbey are not county champions for nothing however and four Doireann O’Sullivan points plus a fine Ciara O’Sullivan effort made it 0-5 to 1-0 at the end of the opening quarter. Plenty of hard hits were going in before Doireann O’Sullivan evaded a couple of defenders and found the net to edge her side five points clear after 20 minutes.
Fiona Keating reduced the deficit but Niamh Terry O’Sullivan and Keating were denied goals by excellent Méabh O’Sullivan saves before the half-time whistle.
West Cork were much improved in the third quarter as Áine Terry O’Sullivan (two), Libby Coppinger and Eimear Kiely scores levelled matters at 1-7 apiece. Substitute Niamh Cotter and Eimear Kiely pushed the divisional side two ahead and the excitement reached fever pitch when Mourneabbey’s Ciara O’Sullivan rattled the crossbar ahead of Lisa Harte striking an upright at the opposite end.
Mourneabbey dug deep and took over in the closing minutes, appearing set for victory after Bríd O’Sullivan and two Doireann O’Sullivan frees made it 1-10 to 1-9.
Not even Bríd O’Sullivan’s late sending off appeared to deter the reigning champions but seven minutes of injury-time (due to a spate of second-half injuries) allowed Sarah Hayes an opportunity to send the final to a replay. The Rosscarbery player duly obliged.
Mourneabbey: Doireann O’Sullivan 1-8 (6f), Ciara O’Sullivan, Bríd O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
West Cork: Áine Terry O’Sullivan 0-4 (2f), Niamh Terry O’Sullivan 1-0, Libby Coppinger 0-2, Fiona Keating, Eimear Kiely, Niamh Cotter, Sarah Hayes 0-1 each.
Mourneabbey: Méabh O’Sullivan; Eimear Meaney, Anne Ryan, Aisling O’Sullivan; Sandra Conroy, Roisín O’Sullivan, Kathryn Coakley; Máire O’Callaghan, Bríd O’Sullivan; Eimear Harrington, Ciara O’Sullivan, Niamh O’Sullivan; Ellie Jack, Laura Fitzgerald, Doireann O’Sullivan.
Subs: Aisling Cronin for L Fitzgerald (45, inj), Kate O’Brien for S Conroy (52).
West Cork: Martina O’Brien (Clonakilty); Siobhan Courtney (Castlehaven), Melissa Duggan (Dohenys), Sarah Hayes (Rosscarbery); Eimear Kiely (Valley Rovers), Clare O’Shea (Beara), Daire Kiely (Valley Rovers); Áine Terry O’Sullivan (Beara), Máire O’Brien (Rosscarbery); Áine Hayes (Rosscarbery, captain), Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s), Clare O’Leary (Clonakilty); Laura O’Mahony (O’Donovan Rossa), Niamh Terry O’Sullivan (Beara), Fiona Keating (Courcey Rovers).
Subs: Niamh Cotter (Beara) for N O’Sullivan (ht), L Harte (O’Donovan Rossa) for F Keating (48).
Referee: AJ Cronin (Mayfield).