By Mark Jones
Mayo 3-6, Waterford 0-14
DUBLIN — An All-Ireland title in the last millennium, an All-Ireland title in the new millennium. The women of Mayo proved that football is not, and will never be, exclusively a man’s game, as they edged out Waterford in last Sunday’s final at Croke Park.
The holders never had it easy, and Waterford had the chance to equalize in the closing seconds when Marion Troy’s shot narrowly missed the target. But Mayo’s ability to score goals proved to be the difference between the teams and in terms of hitting the net, Cora Staunton was in a class of her own.
Mayo’s star forward picked off the first of her two goals in the 22nd minute when she fired a loose ball past Sarah Hickey in the Waterford goal, while her second came six minutes from the end when a looping shot which looked as if it was going over the ball deceived Hickey.
That effort by Staunton, who had been well policed for the most part by Mary O’Donnell, gave Mayo a four-point advantage, and even though Waterford launched a stirring fightback with points by Mary O’Rourke, Geraldine O’Ryan and Rebecca Hallahan, Mayo were able to hold out for a second successive All-Ireland triumph.
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"If you picked two games in the past year we started well, they’d be the two All-Ireland finals," said Mayo’s manager, Jonathan Mullin. "That’s an indication of the focus and concentration that the players give to the game."
Meanwhile, his counterpart, Michael Ryan, couldn’t hide his disappointment at the result.
"We’re absolutely devastated, we’ve put in 78 training sessions this year and we’ve nothing to show for it," he said.
Nemo Rangers won their 11th Cork county football title with a convincing 1-14 to 0-7 final victory over Carbery at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, while Fr. Casey’s claimed a first Limerick championship since 1945 when they edged out Dromcollogher-Broadford by 0-9 to 0-8 at the Gaelic Grounds.
The Sligo title went to Bunnanadden, who were 2-7 to 0-11 winners over Coolera-Strandhill, and there was success for St Anne’s of Rathangan, who claimed the Wexford crown with a 0-7 to 0-4 victory against Starlights. In Roscommon, Kilbride bridged an 86-year gap with their first county title since 1914 when they defeated St. Brigid’s by 1-11 to 1-8 at Hyde Park.
On the hurling front, Castletown won their fourth Laois title since 1995 with a 3-9 to 2-5 final success over Camross at Portlaoise.