A late free from Orla Cotter saw Cork retain their crown.
Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park
CORK BROKE KILKENNY hearts in injury-time on All-Ireland final day for the second year in succession as Orla Cotter’s fifth free of the day proved the winner.
With the sides locked at 0-13 apiece in the 61st minute, Cotter won a debatable free near the sideline and held her nerve to slot it over and seal Cork’s fourth title in five years.
Kilkenny lost last year’s final in equally devastating manner when injury-time scores from Gemma O’Connor and Julia reWhite stole the 2017 title for Cork.
The latest edition of this of this riveting rivalry produced another heart-stopping encounter but late frees from the excellent Chloe Sigerson and Cotter saw Cork retain the crown.
Kilkenny arrived into this game as the three-in-a-row league champions and won all five games on their way to the final with an average winning margin of over 10 points, but Cork’s ability to see out a tight encounter proved the difference once again.
21,467 was today’s official attendance in Croke Park, marginally up on last year’s crowd of 20,037 but still well short of the 46,500 that attended the 2017 Ladies football final.
There were some misgivings over the defensive nature of last year’s decider amid worry the game was becoming too negative. Both defences were on top once again this afternoon in a cagey affair where the majority of scores came through frees.
A tactical battle saw Cork flood midfield with bodies as Kilkenny withdrew a forward to utilise Claire Phelan as sweeper, with Katie Power and Anna Farrell their a two-woman full-forward line.
Grace Walsh, sister of Tommy and Padraig Walsh, formed part of an impressive Kilkenny defence that kept Cork’s talented attack quiet. It was at the far end where Kilkenny struggled to trouble the scoreboard and they had just four different scores with only 0-4 from play.
The movement in Cork’s front six was excellent and they raced out of the blocks into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead. They’d have been further in front had goalkeeper Aoife Murray dispatched her seventh-minute penalty into the net, but instead she drilled it over the bar.
Denise Gaule dragged Kilkenny back into the game with her accurate free-taking. It took Cork until the 23rd minute to score from play, which was a good indication of the stop-start nature of this contest.
Near the end of half things started to warm up and we were finally treated to some free-flowing camogie. Gaule’s fifth score of the day was a stunning point from play near her own 65, but Cork ensured they were level at the interval after two fine Orla Cronin scores.
A brace of frees from Cotter pushed Cork two ahead but Kilkenny were back on level terms through a long-range Meighan Farrell score and a placed ball from Gaule.
Five-time All-Star Cotter put a scoreable free from inside the 45m well wide and at the far end Kilkenny forced two good saves out of Murray. She denied Anna Farrell and Miriam Walsh from close-range but Gaule floated over the 65 to push the Cats clear.
Amy O’Connor hit Cork’s first score from play in 23 minutes to level the game at 0-12 apiece with three minutes left on the clock. Sigerson sent over a bomb from 70m but Kilkenny equalised immediately through another Gaule free.
As the game ticked into stoppage-time, Cotter was deemed to have been fouled as she was surrounded by Cats defenders. After missing a very scoreable free 10 minutes earlier, she made no mistake from the pressure free to seal the title.
Scorers for Cork: Orla Cotter 0-5 (0-5f), Chloe Sigerson 0-3 (0-3f), Orla Cronin and Katrina Mackey 0-2 each, Amy O’Connor and Aoife Murray (0-1 pen) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: Denise Gaule 0-10 (0-7f, 0-2 45), Meighan Farrell, Julie Ann Malone and Michelle Quilty 0-1 each.
1. Aoife Murray (Cloughduv)
17. Leanne O’Sullivan (Glen Rovers)
3. Laura Treacy (Killeagh)
4. Pamela Mackey (Douglas)
15. Hannah Looney (Killeagh)
5. Libby Coppinger (St Colums)
7. Chloe Sigerson (Killeagh)
6. Gemma O’Connor (St Finbarrs)
9. Ashling Thompson (Milford)
10. Amy O’Connor (St Vincent’s)
11. Orla Cronin (Enniskeane)
12. Orla Cotter (St Catherines)
13. Katrina Mackey (Douglas)
8. Julia White (Douglas)
20. Linda Collins (Courcey Rovers)
19. Lauren Homan (St Vincents) for Collins (50)
14. Niamh McCarthy (Inniscarra) for Amy O’Connor (63)
1. Emma Kavanagh (Rower-Inistoge)
4. Grace Walsh (Tullaroan)
3. Catherine Foley (Windgap)
2. Collette Dormer (Paulstown/Goresbridge)
5. Claire Phelan (Lisdowney)
6. Anne Dalton (St Lachtain’s Freshford)
19. Edwina Keane (St Martins)
7. Davina Tobin (Emeralds)
9. Meighan Farrell (Thomastown)
12. Denise Gaule (Windgap)
10. Julie Ann Malone (Mullinavat)
14. Michelle Quilty (Mullinavat)
13. Shelly Farrell (Thomastown)
11. Katie Power (Piltown)
8. Anna Farrell (Thomastown)
15. Miriam Walsh (Tullaroan) for Quilty (35)
Referee: Eamon Cassidy (Derry)
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