Sinead Cafferkey proved to be the heroine for Mayo as they booked their place in the Division 1 Final for the first time since 2016 with a two point win over reigning league champions Cork.
Cafferkey got to the end of a Fiona McHale pass to coolly shoot past Cork keeper Martina O’Brien in the 51st minute. The wing-forward also denied Cork a goal in the final minutes blocking down Aine O’Sullivan’s goalbound effort.
The Rebelettes had to play the final minutes with 14 players after Chloe Collins was sinbinned. They had chances but Mayo defended excellently.
In an entertaining game of football Mayo put in a fine display and fully deserved their win. The goals kept Cork in the game but they lacked a real cutting edge with Mayo’s defence superb when called upon.
The sides were level twice in the opening exchanges before Cork took the lead for the first time in the fifth minute through Orla Finn. One minute later and Cork got their opening goal when Libby Coppinger finished to the net.
Mayo replied and points from Sarah Rowe (2) and Sinead Cafferkey cut the lead to three in the 11th minute. One minute later and Cork had a chance to extend their advantage further when Coppinger was fouled by Emma Lowther. Mayo keeper Sorcha Murphy pulled off an excellent save to deny Eimear Scally.
That save spurred on Mayo. Points from Grace Kelly and Niamh Kelly left just one between them. Finn kicked over a free in the 17th minute but Mayo replied with five points in a row to lead by four in the 24th minute.
Despite being out of the game Cork were back in it again in the 28th minute when Finn grabbed their second goal to cut Mayo’s lead at the break to one point; 0-14 to 2-6.
Aileen Gilroy’s effort curled over the bar to put Mayo ahead by two in the 32nd minute but Cork came back at them with a point from Finn (free) and then a goal from Coppinger, her second and her side’s third, to edge the Rebelettes in front by two in the 34th minute.
Just like before Mayo responded well to the goal and they were level in the 40th minute with a point from Fiona McHale. A pointed free from Grace Kelly restored the lead for Peter Leahy’s side in the 46th minute.
Cork weren’t letting up and another free from Finn drew the sides level again in the 48th minute. In the space of two minutes Mayo went four points ahead with a point from Sarah Rowe and then the goal from Cafferkey.
Grace Kelly got Mayo’s final point in the 54th minute. Cork got late scores to make it a nervy final minutes for both sides. They lost Chloe Collins through a yellow card in the 59th minute and in the final minute they had two goal chances with Mayo forward Cafferkey denying Aine O’Sullivan a dramatic winner as Mayo held on for the win and set-up a Division 1 Final meeting with All-Ireland Champions Dublin on May 6th.
Mayo: Sorcha Murphy; Orla Conlon, Sarah Tierney, Saoire Ludden; Danielle Caldwell, Emma Lowther, Doireann Hughes; Clodagh McManamon, Aileen Gilroy (0-1); Fiona McHale (0-1), Fiona Doherty, Sinead Cafferkey (1-1); Niamh Kelly (0-1), Sarah Rowe (0-9,4f), Grace Kelly (0-7,3f)
Subs: Rachel Kearns for Murphy, Marie Corbett for Ludden, Shauna Howley for Doherty.
Cork: Martina O’Brien; Marie Ambrose, Eimear Meaney, Emma Spillane; Maire O’Callaghan, Melissa Duggan, Shauna Kelly; Ashling Hutchings, Brid O’Sullivan; Ciara O’Sullivan (0-2), Chloe Collins, Orlagh Farmer; Libby Coppinger (2-0), Eimear Scally (0-1), Orla Finn (1-9,5f).
Subs: Aisling Barrett for Kelly, Aine O’Sullivan for Kelly.
Referee: Brendan Rice (Down)