Bord Gáis Energy Ladies NFL Division 1 Final – Monaghan 1-13 Cork 2-7

Monaghan 1-13 Cork 2-7

By DECLAN ROONEY

Monaghan denied Cork the five-in-a-row with an outstanding second-half display in the Bord Gáis Energy Division 1 Ladies Football final at Parnell Park yesterday (SUN). Claiming their first league title since 1999, Monaghan dominated Cork throughout the second period but were kept on the edge of their seats when Nollaig Cleary found the net for Cork with ten minutes remaining.The worry was doubled four minutes later when Valerie Mulcahy  stroked home a penalty after a foul on Juliet Murphy to reduce the deficit to three points, but the superb Cathriona McConnell step up with the late point to seal the win.

Entering the tie as underdogs, Monaghan tore into the Leesiders from the first whistle with their high intensity play and tenacious tackling upsetting the Rebelettes. Making a switch from the off that saw Laura McEnaney start in the half-forward line brought immediate dividends for Monaghan as Niamh Kindlon slotted an early free that McEaney earned. That lead was soon two points when Cathriona McConnell pointed after a quick free unlocked the Cork  defence nine minutes in.

The intensity that Monaghan was showing at the back was a feature of the early exchanges, but 11 minutes in Nollaig Cleary finally made the Cork breakthrough with a well-taken point. But that score proved a brief interlude as Monaghan pushed on with their best spell of the half that produced three points in five minutes. The first arrived from McEnaney – daughter of Meath manager Seamus – after the ball broke kindly off full-forward Kindlon in the 11th minute. Kindlon added two more in quick succession, including an excellent point from more than 30 metres after McConnell battled well to gain possession to push the lead out to four points.

However, slowly but surely Cork began to pull themselves back into the game and they could have pulled within one point, but Monaghan goalkeeper Linda Martin pulled off a splendid save to deny Rhona Ni Bhuchalla a certain goal. Juliet Murphy gained some consolation for Cork from the quickly-taken ensuing 45 and after McEnaney kicked her second point in reply for Monaghan, Cork took control. Orlagh Farmer started the good run for Cork with a point to cap a fine run from Ciara O’Sullivan and further scores from Cleary and Murphy ensured that Monaghan led by just 0-6 to 0-5 at half-time.

Kindlon carried on where she left off after the restart with a well worked score to push Monaghan two points clear, but the key score arrived in the 37th minute when Cathriona McConnell goaled for Monaghan. Cork keeper Elaine Harte did well to deny McConnell with her first effort, but after she regained possession, her rebound was deemed to have crossed the line after rattling the underside of the crossbar.

The goal swelled the Monaghan belief and a run of points from the outstanding McConnell pushed them into a 1-12 to 0-6 lead. But it was never going to be easy for Monaghan and when Cleary’s goal was quickly followed by Valerie Mulcahy’s penalty the lead was whittled down to three points. But McConnell stepped forward again and her fourth point of the day sealed Monaghan’s first division 1 title for 13 years.

Scorers

Monaghan: C McConnell (1-4); N Kindlon (0-4, 1f); C Mohan (0-3); L McEnaney (0-2)

Cork: V Mulcahy (1-1, 1-0pen, 1f); N Cleary (1-2); J Murphy (0-3, 2fs); O Farmer (0-1)

Monaghan: L Martin; G McNally, S Courtney, C Reilly; T McNally, N Fahy, A McAnespie; A Casey, I Kierans; C McAnespie, L McEnaney, C Courtney; C McConnell, N Kindlon, C Mohan.

Subs: E McElroy for Kierans, h-t; E McCarron for McEnaney, 56; L Connolly for Fahy, 58.

Cork: E Harte; A.M. Walsh, D O’Reilly, R Buckley; B Corkery, B Stack, G O’Flynn; J Murphy, N Kelly; A Walsh, C O’Sullivan; G Kearney, N Cleary, R Buckley.

Subs: V Mulcahy for Kearney, 40; L McMahon for A Walsh, 40; D O’Sullivan for Farmer, 45; A Sheehan for AM Walsh, 58.

Referee: Gavin Corrigan (Down)

Match Preview

Cork, who have won six of the last seven All-Ireland titles, are going for a fifth consecutive league win, and Elaine Harte says that the desire for success remains as strong as ever.

“It’s never tough to motivate yourself for a league final,” the goalkeeper says, “especially against a team as good as Monaghan. There has never been much between the sides, including in last year’s All-Ireland.

“It looks like the hunger is still there, training is going well, we’re trying to up the ante now and this will be a great match for us to make sure that we’re still there or thereabouts.”

Based in north Tipperary, Harte faces a journey for every match and training session, but does not find it too taxing.

“It’s not too bad, an hour and 20 minutes or whatever. Geraldine O’Flynn comes from Portlaoise so we meet up and go down together. You wouldn’t call it a struggle.”

Aiming to deny Cork are the Farney County, whose only league loss was to the Rebels, but their captain Sharon Courtney maintains that revenge for that defeat or the All-Ireland is not an issue.

“I don’t think it is,” she says. “Yeah, grand, Cork beat us last year, but we’ve put in work this year and done well and the final is the reward, the focus is all on this year.

“We’re still in the league and you don’t get properly ticking over until the championship, but girls are either playing the same as they are last year or better. We’re definitely not playing well.”

 

Bord Gáis Energy Division 1 National League Final

4.45pm, Saturday 12th May. Parnell Park

DESPITE scoring 1-8 against Laois in last year’s decider, Cork forward Valerie Mulcahy must be content with a place on the bench for Saturday’s Bord Gáis Energy Division 1 final showdown with Monaghan.

Mulcahy is expected to feature at some point at Parnell Park, however, having come off the bench to score Cork’s third goal in their semi-final victory over Meath.

Cork have made one change in personnel from the team that started against the Royal County, with Annie Walsh replacing Laura McMahon at wing-forward.

Monaghan, appearing in a first Division 1 final since 2001, are unchanged from the team that beat Dublin in their semi-final.

Cork are chasing a seventh Division 1 title in eight seasons and if they win, the All-Ireland champions will become the first team since Kerry (1987-91) to complete five-in-a-row Division 1 crowns.

Monaghan would dearly love to stop them in their tracks in what is a repeat of last year’s TG4 All-Ireland senior final, won by Cork at Croke Park.

Cork’s starting line-up features ten survivors from the team that started last October, with Monaghan going three better.

Cork will start as favourites but can expect stiff opposition from free-scoring Monaghan, who were impressive 2-9 to 0-7 winners against Dublin in the last four.

Monaghan’s starting full-forward line – Catriona McConnell, Niamh Kindlon and Caoimhe Mohan – scored all but one point of that semi-final tally, with McConnell and Mohan bagging 1-3 apiece.

CORK: E Harte; A.M. Walsh, D O’Reilly, R Buckley; B Corkery, B Stack, G O’Flynn; J Murphy, N Kelly; A Walsh, C O’Sullivan; G Kearney, N Cleary, R Buckley.

MONAGHAN: L Martin; G McNally, S Courtney, C Reilly; L McEnaney, N Fahy, A McAnespie; A Casey, I Kierans; T McNally, C Courtney, C McAnespie; C McConnell, N Kindlon, C Mohan.

Verdict: Cork