A tally of 1-09 from star attacker Cora Staunton helped Carnacon of Mayo to win the All-Ireland Senior Ladies’ Football Club Championship for a fourth time at Ballymahon, Co Longford.
Carnacon only trailed when Orlagh Egan got the game’s first score for Na Fianna in the fourth minute. The Mayo team were very strong across the pitch and the ability to call on Staunton at full-forward was a huge boost. Captain Fiona McHale also chipped in strongly, getting three first-half points.
Wing-back Caroline McGing and Claire Egan at midfield were both very impressive, while a very good effort from the full-back line denied the Na Fianna attack on numerous occasions. However, the Dublin champions did well to get back to within four points, 2-8 to 2-4, after Laura Walsh’s 47th-minute goal.
That was to prove to be their last score as Staunton responded with four late points to ensure that Carnacon would not be denied, despite losing Egan to a yellow card in the 57th minute.
Some poor wides when they were on top in the middle period of the second half were costly for Na Fianna, but nevertheless they had good performances from Walsh and midfielder Ciara McDermott, while sub Nora Stapleton also did well.
After two points by Staunton and one from McHale in response to Egan’s opener for Na Fianna, Carnacon struck for a well-worked goal. Martha Carter played a great ball to Staunton, she beat Lorraine O’Sullivan before handpassing to Aoife Brennan in space, the corner-forward finishing emphatically.
McHale could have added another goal straight after that, but her shot flew over. After Staunton added a super point she had a superb goal chance from the penalty spot, following a foul on Michelle McGing. Her low shot was wide, but at half-time they remained in a strong position, leading by 1-7 to 0-2.
Staunton and McDermott exchanged points upon the resumption, before Staunton struck for Carnacon’s second goal. After Caroline McGing’s surging run, she passed to Staunton just outside the D and she weaved through three challenges before sending a shot to the top corner for a 2-8 to 0-3 lead.
After that, Na Fianna began to enjoy the bulk of possession, but registered four consecutive wides. They were given some hope in the 43rd minute, however, when Stapleton’s ball-in bounced dangerously in the goalmouth and Egan nipped in to touch the ball home.
The corner-forward then added a point before the second goal, when Walsh got her fist to a Mary Nevin delivery, and while Carnacon looked to have cleared the ball off the line, referee Michael John O’Keeffe awarded the goal after consultation with his umpires.
It was as close as they came though, as Staunton’s calming influence ensured that Carnacon pulled clear again. The Mayo side running down the clock with excellent possession-retention to ensure they took the title.
Scorers for Carnacon: C Staunton 1-9 (0-4f), F McHale 0-3, A Brennan 1-0.
Scorers for Na Fianna: O Egan 1-2, L Walsh 1-0, A O’Donnell, C McDermott 0-1 each.
CARNACON: M Higgins; N Hurst, N Tierney, S McGing; M Corbett, C McGing, A Loftus; C Egan, M Carter; M McGing, F McHale, D Hughes; N Beegan, C Staunton, A Brennan.
NA FIANNA: S Turnbull; E Cassidy, L O’Sullivan, S Quinn; A Cushen, B O’Donnell, C O’Hara; A O’Donnell, C McDermott; M Nevin, N Doherty, L Walsh; M O’Gorman, B Finlay, O Egan.
Referee: MJ O’Keeffe (Cork).