Lethal forward Valerie Mulcahy scored the crucial goal as Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 champions Cork opened their 2014 campaign with a 1-10 to 1-08 victory against Mayo in Mallow on Sunday afternoon.
Mulcahy, matchwinner in last September’s TG4 All-Ireland final victory over Monaghan, finished with 1-05 as the Rebelettes got the defence of their League title off to a winning start.
Rockbán All Star Mulcahy netted with seven minutes left to hand the Leesiders a 1-10 to 0-08 lead before Cora Staunton responded with a consolation goal for visitors Mayo just before full-time.
Staunton, an All-Ireland club winner with Carnacon before Christmas, contributed all 1-08 of Mayo’s tally against Cork, who finished with 1-10.
Experienced Helena Lohan made a welcome return to Mayo colours but with Mulcahy giving a master class in long-range shooting, Cork opened up a 0-10 to 0-03 half-time lead.
Mayo were also hampered by an injury to Martha Carter but with the aid of the breeze in the second half, they launched a revival and had cut the deficit to just two points, 0-8 to 0-10 with 15 minutes remaining.
Meanwhile, Laois opened their campaign under new manager Des Cooney with an impressive 2-18 to 3-05 victory over Donegal in Crettyard.
Noirin Kirwan’s penalty goal helped Laois to lead by 1-08 to 1-02 at the break and the Leinster outfit went on to complete a comfortable win.
Elsewhere, Munster champions Kerry beat Tyrone by 1-16 to 1-06 in Killarney, with Patrice Dennehy finishing a brilliant team move for the decisive second half goal.
Kerry dominated possession in the first half but were just three points clear at half-time, 0-07 to 0-04.
But the Kingdom, beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists last year, came good in the second half to pick up maximum points on their return to the top flight.
The eagerly-awaited clash between Monaghan and Dublin in Aughnamullen fell foul of the weather.
In Division 2, there were victories for Down and Clare against Meath and Fermanagh respectively.
In Division 3, meanwhile, Tipperary hurling legend John Leahy got his reign in charge of the county’s ladies footballers off to a winning start with a 2-12 to 1-09 victory over hosts Wexford.
Also in Division 3, Waterford beat Offaly and Leitrim overcame Sligo in an all-Connacht clash.
And in Division 4, there were victories for Limerick, Antrim and Roscommon on the opening day.
Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 1
Cork 1-10 Mayo 1-08
Laois 2-18 Donegal 3-05
Kerry 1-16 Tyrone 1-06
Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 2
Down 1-12 Meath 2-08
Fermanagh 1-05 Clare 3-19
Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 3
Wexford 1-09 Tipperary 2-12
Waterford 3-14 Offaly 1-05
Sligo 6-06 Leitrim 9-09
Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 4
Limerick 2-11 Louth 1-05
Antrim 8-19 Derry 1-06
Roscommon 1-10 Wicklow 1-04