by Anthony Newman
Two frees from Katie Quirke proved crucial as Cork got the better of Armagh in their TG4 ladies football championship quarter-final tie at the Box-It Athletic Grounds.
It was a close battle all through but in the end Cork, inspired by Ciara O’Sullivan, came out on top to advance to the semi-finals.
Armagh were dealt a blow before the game when star forward, Aimee Mackin, was unable to start due to a hamstring injury, a huge loss to her side.
Doireann O’Sullivan opened the scoring two minutes in from a free before Blaithin Mackin replied for the home side.
A sweeping team move, which started in their own half, saw the visitors back in front when Ciara O’Sullivan scored. But again, their lead didn’t last long as Armagh worked the ball straight down the pitch to see Aoife McCoy equalise.
She added her second to put Armagh in front as they led 0-3 to 0-2 after 12 minutes.
Daire Kiely scored a magnificent point from out near the sideline to see the sides level again, before Mackin had the first goal chance.
She burst past several defenders but her effort went across the goal and wide.
Ciara O’Sullivan put Cork back in front as there was nothing between the sides in the first 15 minutes. Doireann O’Sullivan increased Cork’s lead to put two between the sides for the first time.
Libby Coppinger had a great chance to extend it to three but her close-in effort went narrowly wide.
It took a brilliant save from Anna Carr to stop Cork going further in front when she stopped a shot from Anna Ryan which looked destined for the back of the net.
Kelly Mallon pointed from a free for Armagh to make it 0-4 to 0-5 with 23 minutes played.
Another Mallon free had the sides level and it remained that way to the break and all to play for in the second-half.
Ciara O’Sullivan restored Cork’s lead on the restart and Hannah Looney made it 0-7 to 0-5, with a fisted point with her back to goal.
Armagh regained the lead in the 37th minute when they raised a green flag. A shot from Mackin was blocked by Roisin Phelan but the loose ball fell to Niamh Coleman and he found the back of the net.
Again Cork responded with Doireann O’Sullivan equalising from a free with her sister, Ciara, putting them back in front, 0-9 to 1-5.
Another Doireann O’Sullivan free restored Cork’s two point lead with 43 minutes gone but the lead didn’t last long.
Emily Druse and Shauna Grey combined to play Mackin in and she gave Meabh O’Sullivan no chance of saving as she made it 2-5 to 0-10.
Aoife Healy made her presence felt not long after coming on as a sub as she equalised for Cork.
With 45 minutes gone Cork were down to 14 when Doireann O’Sullivan was sin-binned as the momentum started to swing in Armagh’s favour.
Katie Quirke took over the free taking duties when O’Sullivan off the pitch and she made sure with her first effort to restore Cork’s lead.
She added another free to make it 0-13 to 2-5 with nine minutes remaining.
Armagh had another goal chance with Mackin clean through but this time she couldn’t find a way past Meabh O’Sullivan as Cork managed to keep them scoreless until Doireann returned.
Ciara O’Sullivan put the visitors three up with three minutes remaining before Blathnaid Hendron made it a two point tie.
But Cork held on for the win to see the through to the semi-finals.
Scorers - Cork: D O’Sullivan 0-4 (4f), C O’Sullivan 0-5, K Quirke 0-2 (2f), D Kiely, H Looney A Healy 0-1 each.
Armagh: B Mackin 1-1, N Coleman 1-0, K Mallon (2f), A McCoy 0-2 each.
CORK: M O’Sullivan; M Duggan, E Meaney, R Phelan; A Ryan, S Kelly, L O’Mahony; M O’Callaghan, H Looney; D Kiely, L Coppinger, C O’Sullivan; O Cahalane, D O’Sullivan, E Cleary. Subs: A Healy for A Ryan (40), K Quirke for O Cahalane (44), D Kiniry for L O’Mahony, B O’Sullivan for D Kiely (both 50).
ARMAGH: A Carr; S Grey, C McCambridge, L Kenny: G Ferguson, L McConville, C Towe: N Coleman, E Lavery; B Mackin, C O’Hagan, E Druse; N Reel, K Mallon, A McCoy. Subs: N Marley for L Kenny (40), B Hendron for C O’Hagan (50).
Referee: Margaret Farrelly (Cavan).Tweet