Ladies dethrone the champions

Photo: @ColmGannon

The Mayo ladies took the field in their LGFA Senior All-Ireland semi-final against Cork at Breffni Park this afternoon as rank outsiders.  They produced a stunning performance at the Cavan venue, however, to dethrone the long-standing champions and set up an All-Ireland final meeting with Dublin in three weeks time.

The ladies won in the finish by two points in what was from start to finish and tough and tight affair. Tight was how Mayo needed to keep it early on as it would have been fatal to let a team of Cork’s vast experience to get a run at them from the off.

Instead, it was tit-for-tat in a cagey opening spell, the teams trading points and the lead changing hands a few times. We led by two early on, they pegged us back, we went one ahead again, back they came to lead by one, level again, then Cork up again by one.

Then came the game’s first decisive breakthrough, a goal for us scored by the peerless Cora Staunton. A real belter it was too and she followed it up with a point to push her team three clear. By half-time, the gap was back to two but already it looked like Mayo were more than a match for the champions.

Cork upped their game after the break. More point-trading followed but when Cork’s Orla Finn knocked over her tenth point of the game it put her side back in front and her eleventh one soon after stretched Cork’s lead to two.

There was a danger then that the game could slip from their grasp but any such doubts were quickly dispelled when a flowing move ended with Mayo’s second goal. Fiona Doherty created the chance with some strong running at the heart of the Cork defence before offloading to Aileen Gilroy who drove forward and smashed the ball to the net.

We suffered a major blow soon after when Fiona Doherty picked up what looked to be an extremely harsh yellow card, which meant she was consigned to the sin bin for a crucial ten-minute spell of the second half. By now, the large Mayo following was getting increasingly incensed at the many reffing calls going against us.

But the team responded superbly by launching another attack, which ended in a third goal. Sarah Rowe was fouled as she got her shot away but the high dropping ball was met in the square by sub Amy Dowling who fisted it to the net to push Mayo four clear.

From there to the end it was increasingly tense as Cork, sensing that their incredibly long reign as champions was on the line, attacked again and again. Two points for Cork, with a shot cannoning off the crossbar between those scores, left this game on a knife-edge as it entered the final ten minutes.

A point from play by Cora – her eighth of the day – helped to calm the nerves but this was quickly cancelled out at the other end. It was clear this contest was going to go right down to the wire.

With five minutes left to play, Fiona Doherty was back on but Cora missed a relatively straightforward free and so the gap remained at two points.

Soon after Cork were awarded a penalty in controversial circumstances. Orla Finn appeared to back into Mayo ‘keeper Yvonne Byrne before losing her footing in the square but the ref adjudged it to be a penalty.

A goal for Cork then would surely have been fatal.  Yvonne Byrne got down, however, superbly to paw away the spot kick and preserve the Westerners’ narrow advantage.

Orla Finn kicked her thirteenth point of the game soon after to cut Mayo’s lead to the minimum margin with just two minutes left on the clock. It was, though, left to Cora Staunton – a full 18 years after her first All-Ireland final appearance – to notch the game’s final score, bringing her personal tally to 1-8 as Mayo won out by 3-11 to 0-18.

It was a super win, hewn out of a hard-working and utterly determined way of playing. Much like the lads this year, the ladies went about their business today with a single-minded focus and a clear will to win. It was a victory – their first over Cork in the championship in thirteen years – they thoroughly deserved.

Photo: @LadiesFootball

So it’s onto the final they now go. Back to Croke Park for their first final appearance since 2007, aiming to capture the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time since the glory days around the start of the new Millennium.

Incredibly, Cora Staunton was the leading light of the team when they won four All-Ireland titles between 1999 and 2003 and she’s still the spiritual leader of the team all these years later. What a crowning achievement it would be for Cora to play a leading role in winning the county’s fifth LGFA title should they overcome Dublin in the final three weeks from now.

Two Mayo/Dublin All-Ireland finals in two weeks. September sure is going to be fun. Up Mayo.

19 thoughts on “Ladies dethrone the champions

  1. Fantastic game from start to finish… had to watch it deferred after the Ireland game as I was over ruled on which we should watch live! Omg after what was a painful almost 2 hours of paint drying viewing it was so good to watch an exciting game of Gaelic! We are so lucky to have a decent national sport, and as Mayo people we are doubly blessed to have such incredible teams with never say die attitude!

  2. What a year for Mayo football. It will be some party if Mayo do the Double. Cora is some player. While Andy should be named As Footballer of the year, Cora should be given Sportsperson of the Year. The ladies were brilliant against Cork today. Well done to all involved. Oh what an exciting few weeks we have ahead.

  3. Well said w j. It was great viewing today. Yvonne is a superb goalie. Cora is certainly player of the year. You could say years 1999 to2017. Lets hope the men can bring Sam on parade on 24th. What a month we might have. Up mayo

  4. Fantastic win, the ladies deserve huge support in the final, a credit to themselves, their families and their clubs! The double is on!

  5. Fantastic Mayo Ladies. How similar to the men’s is their path to the final : Losing to Galway in Connacht but them beating the team who beat Galway in the All Ireland series. And then meeting the same opponents as the men in the final. Here’s to a glorious Double.

    One question to the LGFA: Are they trying to discourage spectators/supporters from attending games? Picking Breffni as a venue for Cork Mayo seems to indicate nothing else. How many attended todays games? What is the point in choosing a major stadium like Breffni for such an attendance. There are many stadia equal to Breffni in all standards which would be more appropiate and have a much better atmosphere.

  6. Cora really is some athlete. To compete at that level for this long is some achievement. Mayo have tended to rely too heavily on her in recent years but she had plenty of help today.

    Still scored 1.09 though. Ridiculous really!

  7. Well done to the Mayo ladies. While all the talk for the next two weeks will be about the Mayo men, it was great to hear the Mayo chant in Cavan today for our women. It needs to be much louder for the final.

  8. In 1996 I was playing for the London u14 team in the Féile Peil na nÓg in Mayo. We were hosted by families in Ballyhaunis and played a warm-up game against them before the tournament proper started. We were all a bit surprised when Yvonne Byrne lined out for them outfield that day (there wasn’t much/if any girls football in London at the time). We weren’t surprised for long. She had a great game and more than held her own against one of our better forwards. Was so happy to see that she made a game-changing penalty save today. Brilliant result. If I don’t manage to get a ticket for the men’s final I think I’ll head over from London to cheer the ladies on the week after!!

  9. Well done, great heart on top of the abundant skill. Like the lads, when we got running from our 45 they looked dodgy. Ref was dodgy, a mix of niggly and blind.
    A little better return from goal chances and a double is on.
    The masses may be there (for the replay- Tom)

  10. We salute you, ladies, this is some turn around in their season, and who’s to say they won’t go on and win it now.
    And for Cora, one of the greatest footballers ever to grace a football pitch, how fitting it would be for her to bring the cup home again.

  11. Super performance from the girls ..Cora was super but by no means a one woman show ,great warriors all over the pitch ..well done !!!

  12. Amazing Mayo. Superb gutsy passionate football. Never give up and such a talented group. Well done mayo. Again I am so proud and blessed to come from such a brilliant county. The colours are stuck out on the fence in Carlow and flying high on my car. Maigheo…mo chroi!!

  13. It’s such a pity that Mayo Ladies’ great win will be overshadowed by the hurling All-Ireland Final. Cork’s remarkable record combined with their annihilation of Galway means this win by Mayo should have been the sporting story of the weekend! Only Jackie Cahill’s basic report in the national media is all the attention it received. Such a pity. Looking forward to more comprehensive coverage in the Mayo News, the Western etc

  14. A hell of a performance by our girls! Am I the only one who thought the ref was awful? He seemed intent on punishing us at every opportunity.

  15. He did give a lot of frees against us diehard but to be fair we were doing a lot of fouling. It appeared to be a tactic of ours to hit hard and often and theres nothing wrong with that, there was nothing malicious in it but a lot of the frees were legit.
    However he did seem to give Orla Finn any free she wanted, there was one stage where she just wrapped up the ball and stood there and waited for him to blow the whistle so she could tap it over, which he duly did. The penalty you could look at like he was conned, or that Orla Finn used all of her experience once Yvonne Byrne put her arms around her (same difference I suppose). I think WJ’s use of the phrase “lose her footing” was fairly kind but if she was one of ours you wouldn’t blame her.
    It was a combination of us getting the rub of the green at times but also really taking the game to them when the opportunity arose, that second goal was as good as you’ll see at any level.
    Hopefully our men will get a bit of long overdue luck in the final as well, that combined with applying themselves as well as the ladies did for the entire match will put them along way to winning it.

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