Na Fianna made a number of positional and tactical changes early in the game, playing Sue Hannon as an extra defender in front of the ever-dangerous Mayo full-forward line, including high-scoring forwards Denise Dunnion and Cathy McKenna. This move left Mayo halfback Imelda Mularkey free to hit her inside forwards and her excellent distribution created numerous scoring chances for the side.
Dunnion opened the scoring with a close-range free after five minutes; this followed three early wides from the Mayo forwards. McKenna then registered her first score with a good effort from 20 yards. This was closely followed with her second point, as she displayed her potent ability in front of the posts.
Na Fianna, with their defense under serious pressure but coping well, were finding it difficult to find their half forwards and as soon as one Mayo attack was broken down, another ensued. Mayo were failing to take advantage of their possession in the Na Fianna half of the field and kicked six wides, including a goal chance as Dunnion sent her shot to the left of the post and wide.
Nancy Donohue, who just returned from injury, finally got Na Fianna on the scoreboard after 14 minutes. This score came courtesy of a free, with Paula Barrett adding a fine score moments later. Mayo’s Dunnion found the back of the Na Fianna net just before halftime, after a scrappy piece of play in front of goal, to put six points between the sides at halftime.
The second half saw a rejuvenated Na Fianna take complete control of possession and the inspirational Paula Barrett pointed a fine long-range effort after 4 minutes. Within minutes, Barrett added a goal from a quickly taken free and put just three between the sides. Na Fianna were fighting hard with Lorriane Lacey, Brenda Furlong and Michelle Fahy to the fore in attack, while Mags Ryan, Katriona Lynch, Finola McConnell and Grace Kelly were doing their best to contain the Mayo forwards.
While Mayo were guilty of kicking eight wides in the first half, Na Fianna contributed five in the second half. This was to prove their major downfall as Mayo failed to score until the final minutes of the game. Lynda Donnelly had a goal disallowed midway through the half as referee Mick Murphy deemed it to have beem a square ball.
The Mayo defense were under immense pressure in the second half, but Eleanor Fox and Fiona Ward held the centerback and fullback positions well. Na Fianna, however, leveled the game in dramatic form with 11 minutes to play: Monica Slevin found the in-form Barrett, who drilled a shot past the Mayo keeper. Na Fianna showed great heart, but Mayo came alive again to the dying minutes and scored two consecutive points, from McKenna and Donnelly, to see them retain the Annie Kearney Cup in exciting fashion.
Mayo: Patti McGrail, Elaine O’Donovan, Eleanor Fox, Tina Foy, Joanne Monaghan, Fiona Ward, Imelda Mularkey, Ellen McGrail, Louise McMahon, Karen Henry, Lynda Donnelly, Louise Fox, Denise Dunnion, Cathy McKenna, Nora McGrail. Subs: Mary Toolan for Nora McGrail (53 mins.).
Na Fianna: Rose Dunican, Monica Slevin, Katrina Lynch, Mags Ryan, Finola McConnell, Lorraine, Grace McClafferty, Michelle Fahy, Mary Melly, Sue Hannon, Paula Barrett, Marie Melly, Patricia Reddington, Nancy Donohoe, Brenda Furlong. Subs used: Jeannine Heinsohn for Reddington (49 mins.), Megan Parcells for Marie Melly (59 mins.).
1 p.m., Na Fianna vs. Kerry D Gold, Paddy’s Field
2:30 p.m., Rockland vs. Fermanagh, Paddy’s Field