Galway’s bid to claim a hat-trick of All-Ireland underage titles – having already triumphed in the U-14 and U-16 grades this Summer – was unceremoniously quashed by a Cork outfit who produced a devastating display of pace and precision to retain their All-Ireland LGFA minor crown in Monday’s All-Ireland decider at O’Connor Park, Tullamore.
In doing so, Cork, themselves, completed their first ever three-in-a-row at minor ladies football level – having previously been denied by Galway and Dublin – and they now lead the roll of honours list at this grade with 10 titles – double the amount of their nearest challengers, Galway and Waterford.
For the Tribes girls part, they simply had no answer to Cork’s power and pace, which was reflected in a full-forward line that accounted for an incredible 5-8 of the Leesiders’ total of 5-11.
All three – Grace Culloty, Saoirse Noonan and Sadhbh O’Leary – had lined out in the exact same positions in last year’s final victory over Dublin and, 12 months on, they brought an even greater intensity and cut to proceedings.
Galway had no answer and once O’Leary, who finished with 2-3, netted her first goal on 14 minutes to put her side 1-2 to 0-2 ahead, you sensed the momentum of the contest had changed utterly. By half-time, Cork would be 3-5 to 0-2 in front. It was difficult to see a way back for Galway.
Cork’s second and third goals came within a 60-second spell and both came from Galway’s inability to cope with a physically stronger side. Centre-half back Jenny Brewdinan made the running for their 27th minute major, after turning over a Galway attack, and she set up Noonan for a clinical finish.
On the restart, Galway again were unable to keep the ball in hand and when Cork won a free just outside the ‘D’, wing-forward Laura O’Mahony took it quickly, picked out Noonan and she turned on her heels and headed for goal. It was a killer blow for the Connacht champions.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.