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Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald following Sunday's dramatic win over Dublin at Nowlan Park.
Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald following Sunday's dramatic win over Dublin at Nowlan Park.

Ephie Fitzgerald: 'It was some spectacle'

By Daragh Small

Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald believes his young team has the potential to return to past glories, as they clung on for an inspirational victory over champions Dublin in the Ladies Football League Division 1 semi-final.

Cork haven’t contested a League final since they won five-in-a-row between 2013 and 2017, but they returned to another decider after a gruelling encounter in the sweltering heat at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny.

Orla Finn scored 0-13 and Melissa Duggan’s goal was crucial in the end. Niamh McEvoy and Sinéad Aherne scored the Dublin goals. The teams were level 2-9 to 1-12 at the end of normal time but Cork eventually prevailed.

Cork had already defeated Dublin in the last round of the league, but in the league semi-finals it took two periods of extra-time to separate the two heavyweights of Ladies Football. “It was some spectacle,” said Fitzgerald.

“I am very, very proud of the girls. We beat Dublin two weeks ago and people were telling us they were short (of players).

“At the end of the day, we will probably be meeting them later on in the Championship, but this is a big lift for our girls.

“We are in another national final in two weeks’ time, and that is something for our girls to look forward to.

“Dublin are a very formidable side, with top class players, particularly in the forward line. So from our point of view, it’s a confidence builder as much as anything else.”

Dublin manager Mick Bohan says this loss has hurt his side. “The last defeat wouldn’t have bothered me, but today bothered me,” said Bohan.

“But there is nothing between the two teams and we would have known that going into the All-Ireland final last year. A kick of a ball and on another day the kick of the ball could have gone our way.”

Dublin had to do without Sinéad Goldrick who pulled out with a broken hand that she suffered during a tackling drill in training. Bohan says she will be back fit in four to six weeks.

“She is a huge player and has been a warrior for this team for many a year. On a day like today she would have made a huge difference, but that’s the nature of sport,” said Bohan.

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