Ladies football heavyweights Dublin and Cork are on another collision course.
Dublin 4-15 Mayo 0-10
Dublin advance to a final showdown with old rivals Cork after seeing off Mayo’s challenge at LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
Mayo enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half, but it was the more decisive and productive Dublin side who deservedly found themselves eight clear at the break on a 3-3 to 0-4 scoreline.
Full-forward Niamh Hetherton caused Mayo all sorts of problems and got them off the mark after five minutes with their opening goal.
She was also heavily involved in their third goal, with captain Sinead Aherne finishing the ball over the line.
Those scores sandwiched a classy goal from Jennifer Dunne, who strode through onto a well-timed pass from Lyndsey Davey to blast home.
Davey was central to everything positive Dublin did in attack while the tenacious defending of the All-Ireland champions at the other end frustrated Mayo.
Niamh Kelly was Mayo’s biggest threat while Sinead Cafferky, Saoirse Lally and Grace Kelly were also prominent.
Mayo found it almost impossible to locate any gaps in the Dublin back division and Mick Bohan’s women soaked up pressure before breaking out decisively.
Dublin began the second half explosively with two points from Hannah Tyrrell as midfielders Lauren Magee and Dunne controlled matters.
Mayo almost found a way back into it after 36 minutes when Rachel Kearns got on the end of a Tamara O’Connor pass only to see her shot crash back off the bar and when the Crossmolina woman was sin-binned moments later, Mayo were in real trouble.
Dublin stretched their lead to 12, 3-10 to 0-7, at the start of the fourth quarter after points from Aherne, Davey and the impressive Tyrrell.
Mayo continued to try hard with Éiis Ronayne and Kathryn Sullivan trying to rally the troops, but Dublin were in complete control.
Ahearne moved the leaders completely out of sight when she slotted home a penalty eight minutes from the end as they booked their place in the final.
Cork 5-10 Donegal 3-13
Cork and Donegal delivered a feast of goals at Tuam Stadium as defending champions Cork held on to advance to the final after a hard-fought win.
Six goals in the first half saw the sides even at the break, with Donegal much the happier of the two sides having played against the strong wind.
Cork got off to the perfect start and struck for 2-2 in the opening four minutes with Brid and Ciara O’Sullivan shooting to the net.
But Donegal responded in style, with two goals of their own within 30 seconds of each other.
The first arrived from Katy Herron after some good play from Niamh McLaughlin and Karen Guthrie. From the restart Guthrie regained possession and coolly finished past Martina O’Brien, to make it 2-2 to 2-0 with eight minutes played.
The goals continued to flow with Cork working the ball down the other end, and Maire O’Callaghan applied the finishing touch. Ciara O’Sullivan and Finn added points for Cork, before Donegal got their third goal, with Guthrie scoring her second of the half.
But Donegal finished the half the stronger of the two sides, with frees from Geraldine McLaughlin and Guthrie helping to put one between the sides. Geraldine McLaughlin pointed on the half-time whistle to see the teams level at the break, 3-5 to 3-5.
Guthrie got the first score of the second-half with half-time substitute Eimear Scally replying for the Munster side. Geraldine McLaughlin put Donegal back in front, but once more Finn levelled matters at the other end.
With 38 minutes gone Hannah Looney picked up the ball for Cork, played it to Melissa Duggan and her pass was palmed to the net by Finn, which gave Cork a crucial one-goal cushion.
Finn added a point from the restart, with Guthrie raising the white flag at the other end. The fifth Cork goal came just before the water break when Meabh Cahalane intercepted a Donegal pass, played it to Sadhbh O’Leary who burst forward and found Brid O’Sullivan. O’Leary accepted the return pass and she blasted to the back of the net.
Geraldine McLaughlin pulled a point back for Donegal before a double save denied them what looked like a certain goal. First O’Brien denied Niamh McLaughlin and when Guthrie picked up the rebound she looked like finding the net, only to be denied by Roisin Phelan.
Two points from Finn saw Cork lead 5-10 to 3-12 with time running out but Donegal with Kate McClenaghan’s shot narrowly clearing the bar, the full-time whistle was a welcome blast as Cork move on to the final.
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