Eamonn Ryan’s all-conquering Cork claimed a seventh Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 title in nine seasons today when defeating Mayo by 0-14 to 0-07.
Cork lost last year’s final to Monaghan but regained the title with a solid if unspectacular win against 2012 Division 2 champions Mayo at Parnell Park.
Defensively, the Rebelettes were in no mood to concede scores as in-form Cora Staunton, scorer of 1-10 against Monaghan in the semi-final, was bottled up.
Staunton did manage four points but the Carnacon star was restricted to just a pointed free in the second half.
And Mayo managed just two points in the entire second half as Cork finished with a flurry of scores to claim national silverware once more.
Mayo shot themselves in the foot by registering ten wides in the first half but they were always up against it, having failed to build up a lead after playing with a breeze.
Mayo were level at half-time at 0-5 apiece and went in front for the first time in the game when captain Fiona McHale kicked the opening score of the second half.
But All-Ireland champions Cork responded with a run of five unanswered points to gain a firm grip on proceedings, as Mayo went 17 minutes without a score.
Mayo also had player-of-the-match Yvonne Byrne to thank for an inspired performance as the Hollymount net minder pulled off a string of fine saves.
Two were particularly memorable as Byrne dived full length to keep out Valerie Mulcahy in the fifth minute – and again after half-time as the ace Cork corner forward fired in left-footed shots.
And Byrne rushed from her line to deny Cork sub Emma Farmer with five minutes remaining as the former All-Ireland winning shot stopper preserved a clean sheet.
Overall, Cork never had to hit the heights they are capable of during the course of a well-attended League decider.
Bríd Stack and Geraldine O’Flynn were outstanding in defence, with Orla Finn the pick of Cork’s attack.
Ultimately, it was Cork’s strong second half performance that got the job done as they outscored Mayo by 0-9 to 0-2.
The Westerners managed just one point from play after half-time – scored by McHale.
Playing into the teeth of a stiff breeze, that was never going to be enough against Cork, who bided their time before picking off their opponents in clinical fashion.
CORK: E Harte; A.M. Walsh, B Stack, A Barrett; B Corkery, D O’Reilly, G O’Flynn; Annie Walsh, R Buckley; O Farmer, Angela Walsh, O Finn; V Mulcahy, R Ní Bhuachalla, D O’Sullivan.
Scorers: V Mulcahy 0-4 (3f), O Finn 0-3, G O’Flynn 0-3 (2f), R Ní Bhuachalla 0-2 (1f), D O’Sullivan & Angela Walsh 0-1 each.
Subs: N Cleary for Mulcahy (48), E Farmer for O’Sullivan (54), V Foley for Barrett (56).
MAYO: Y Byrne; M Corbett, N Tierney, K Sullivan; Ciara McManamon, M Carter, L Ryder; C Egan, C McManamon; A Gilroy, D Doherty, F McHale; L Cafferky, C Staunton, S Rowe.
Scorers: C Staunton 0-4 (1f), S Rowe 0-2, F McHale 0-1.
Subs: A Bell for Ryder (19), G Kelly for Cafferky (45), N Kelly for Doherty (45), C Connelly for Ciara McManamon (45).
Referee: K Delahunty (Tipperary).