Fantastic Foxes earn All-Ireland final spot

by James Hendicott

FOXROCK Cabinteely captain Sarah Brophy says her team’s personalised approach to the abundant Mayo stars in All-Ireland semi-finalists Carnacon’s side saw them through to a first ladies football final.
Her side prevailed on a 4-9 to 2-11 scoreline in Bray and were in control for much of the tie.
But a rough period early in the second half saw the legendary Cora Staunton – assisted by four other regular Mayo starters – push on.
The full forward eventually notched 1-7 but the Dublin side were composed and smart enough to accelerate away in a frantic encounter in spite of a sin-binning.
“We went out to play as a team knowing she’d be their biggest threat,” Brophy said of Staunton, the ten-time All Star.
“Niamh Collins did a great job on her and, in the middle of the field, Laura Nurney took out Fiona McHale.
“We felt if we had those two players under control, the rest of our team would step up around that.”
“The pressure’s quite high,” Brophy admitted of the game.
“But you learn from the games before to get your mind in the right place. Once your mind is in the right place, we’re physically fit enough and have the talent. It’s just about getting the mind right.
In the first half, Amy Ring’s consistent free taking was keeping things balanced as both sides threatened.
Amy Connolly scored the goal to give Cabo a half time lead at 1-5 to 1-2, with goalkeeper Laurie Ahern having made a stunning point blank save just before the break to keep the lead.
The second half was a compelling affair, with Cabo stretching their lead through a neatly slotted goal from Laura Nerney, before Carnacon enjoyed a period of dominance, topped off as an Amy Dowling pot-shot was fumbled into her own net in a misjudgement by Ahern.
When Lorna Fusciardi was sin-binned for the Dubs, they looked in trouble, but not so, as two fantastic forward moves saw them took control a girl down, after the Dubs had dragged themselves level. First Connolly played in Sinead Goldrick, who blasted under Mayo keeper Michelle Higgins.
A couple of minutes later, Fiona Claffey was the provider, as she looped a ball across the face of Higgins’ goal for Anne-Marie Murphy to fist powerfully in.
There were to be flashes of hope for Carnacon, who briefly closed the gap back to three points, but Cabo stretched the lead to beyond a score and then played out time. They held possession as the clock ran out for Staunton’s side in an exceptional contest, with Cabo taking a 4-9 to 2-11 win.
“Amy Connolly was unreal,” Brophy added afterwards. “Every time there’s a ball to go for she gets on the end of it, and normally gets a score out of it.
“It’s unusual what lifts you in the game,” the captain reflected.
“I think when we got a yellow card, that really lifted us, and I think we ended up getting two goals when we down a player.
“It was the same when their second goal went in. I think we responded quite well today when adverse things happened to us.
“It’s very high intensity and if we create opportunities, we have excellent forwards who can finish them.
“The girls really made a difference to us today.
“They’re all such good finishers that you can give the ball to whoever’s in the best position, and it doesn’t matter who’s on the end of it, it doesn’t matter who’s there once someone gets it.”
Foxrock Cabinteely go on to face Monaghan side and reigning All Ireland champions Donaghmoyne in the All Ireland final on December 4.
“It means everything after last year,” she concluded. “We fell at this hurdle and we were kicking ourselves because we thought we had what it takes. Fortunately this time we did.”

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