Emma Duffy reports from Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon
CORK’S EYE FOR goal was the difference as they saw off Donegal to keep their quest for a 12th All-Ireland title in 14 years firmly on course.
Orla Finn and substitute Saoirse Noonan both raised green flags as Ephie Fitzgerald’s Munster champions booked their ticket back to Croke Park for All-Ireland final day.
While they finally put the hurt of last year’s semi-final exit at the hands of Mayo to bed, the wait goes on for Donegal as their first-ever All-Ireland senior semi-final appearance ended in disappointment.
Doireann O’Sullivan was influential throughout for the Rebels, kicking three monster scores, while their defence — led by Roisin Phelan — was solid throughout.
Donegal on the other hand looked mainly to Geraldine McLaughlin and Karen Guthrie, who finished with 0-9 between them.
Proceedings were quite cagey from the get-go at a sun-kissed Dr Hyde Park, both the Ulster and Munster champions opting to start defensively.
On the scoring front, the Rebels opened brightest through Eimear Scally and Finn before Termon’s McLaughlin got the Tir Chonaill side off the mark after 10 minutes.
Saoirse Noonan fires home.
Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO
The crucial moment in the first half came with 18 minutes on the clock as Cork raised their first of two green flags through Finn. The in-form Ciara O’Sullivan powered towards goal and as she was surrounded by a sea of yellow, cleverly offloaded to the Kinsale ace who palmed home to make it 1-3 to 0-3.
There were some uncharacteristic mistakes and wides on show as the first period progressed but Guthrie — who scored three from play, one from a free — was one shining light before the posts as Donegal stayed in pursuit of the Munster kingpins.
Moments before half time, she almost found the back of the net but the Glenfin star’s rocketed effort clipped just over the bar.
On the restart, Maxi Curran and Damien Devaney’s outfit looked to stage a comeback, driven mainly by McLaughlin, who hit four of their six second-half points.
Cork kept the scoreboard ticking over however, with 18-year-old sensation Noonan sprung from the bench in the 36th minute to contribute a vital 1-2.
The closest Donegal could get was three points despite valiant efforts as they chased down a much-needed goal. They looked more intense in the latter stages, but Cork had done enough and always looked like they could step up a gear.
Cork celebrate at the final whistle.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
With two minutes remaining Noonan put the gloss on Cork’s win, firing home to ensure their Croke Park date with either holders Dublin or Connacht champions Galway.
Scorers for Cork: Orla Finn (1-4, 4f), Eimear Scally (0-2), Doireann O’Sullivan (0-3), Saoirse Noonan (1-2, 2f).
Scorers for Donegal: Karen Guthrie (0-4, 1f), Geraldine McLaughlin (0-5, 2f), Katy Herron (0-1), Yvonne Bonner (0-1)
1. Martina O’Brien
of the team
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2. Eimear Meaney
3. Roisin Phelan
4. Melissa Duggan
5. Maire O’Callaghan
6. Shauna Kelly
7. Emma Spillane
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8. Aisling Hutchings
9. Hannah Looney
10. Ciara O’Sullivan
11. Libby Coppinger
12. Eimear Scally
13. Áine O’Sullivan
14. Doireann O’Sullivan
15. Orla Finn
24. Saoirse Noonan for Áine O’Sullivan (36)
17. Orlagh Farmer for Orla Finn (36)
15. Orla Finn for Aisling Hutchings (47)
1. Laura Gallagher
2. Treasa Doherty
3. Nicole McLaughlin
4. Deirdre Foley
5. Therese McCafferty
6. Ciara Hegarty
7. Anna Maria McGlynn
8. Katy Herron
23. Kate Keaney
10. Karen Guthrie
11. Niamh Hegarty
12. Sarah Jane McDonald
13. Geraldine McLaughlin
14. Yvonne Bonner
24. Olive McCafferty
9. Aoife McDonnell for Olive McCafferty (22)
15. Eilish Ward for Niamh Hegarty (43)
19. Amy Boyle Carr for Kate Keaney (48)
11. Niamh Hegarty for Anna Marie McGlynn (51)
Referee: Brendan Rice (Down)
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