Donegal may have lost by six points but no way were the All-Ireland champions, Cork, a six points better team in yesterday’s clash in Castlefin.
It took a Cork goal and point in the closing minutes to ease jangling Rebel nerves as Donegal, through an Aisling Cunningham goal, came within two points of the All-Ireland champions with just four minutes remaining. Cunningham pounced for the second of her goals when she drove to the Cork net to make it 2-10 to 2-12. Cork vstarted eight of the team that defeated Monaghan in last year’s All-Ireland final and introduced another three of the All-Ireland championship team in the course of the game.
After Cunningham’s second three pointer the All-Ireland champions showed their undoubted class with the late goal tucked away by Emma Farmer and followed up with a pointed free from Geraldine O’Flynn to close out the game. This was a game that the Rebels always had the look of winners about them. But if they had, they were pushed all the way by Donegal who had big performances from Kate Keaney, Ciara Hegarty, Geraldine McLaughlin, Karen Guthtrie, Rose Boyle and Katie Herron.
It was all square at half-time, Donegal 1-7, Cork 2-4, Aisling Cunningham scored the Donegal goal and Geraldine McLaughlin (2), Karen Guthrie, Eilish Ward (2) and Kate Keaney scored the points.
Cork pulled away in the second half and led 2-12, to 1-10 and with the clock ticking, looked to have enough done, but Cunningham’s goal reduced the gap to two and the door open for Donegal.
Donegal: Niamh Mailey; Orla Carr, Nicole McLaughlin, Kelly Wilson; Rose Boyle, Katie Herron, Therese McCafferty; Ciara Hegarty, Kate Keaney (0-1); Niamh Carr, Geraldine McLaughlin(0-2), Karen Guthrie (0-5, 2f); Rachael McGee, Aisling Cunningham (2-0), Eilish Ward (0-2,2f). Subs: Emer Gallagher for K Wilson (23); Roisin McFadden for N Mailey (h/t, inj); Kaneshia McKinney for O Carr (43); Lucy Murphy for E Ward (56).
Cork: M O’Brien; A Marie Walsh, A Walsh, S Harrington; V Foley, B Stack, G O’Flynn (0-6, 5f); B Corkerry (0-1), C O’ Sullivan(0-1); A Walsh (0-1), G Kearney, O Finn (1-0); V Mulcahy, E Farmer (2-2), S Kelly (0-1). J Barry for V Mulcahy (13); D O’Sullivan (0-1) for S Harrington (37); R Buckley for S Kelly (49).
Referee: G Chapman (Dublin).