Cork 2-9 Kerry 0-11: Valerie Mulcahy scored 2-3 as champions Cork advanced to an eighth TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football championship final in nine seasons with victory over Kerry in Thurles on Saturday afternoon.
All-Star forward Mulcahy bagged two first-half goals as Cork won by four points in what was a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland decider against Kerry.
The neighbours had met twice already in this year’s championship – with Kerry winning twice in Munster, including the provincial final.
But Cork had too much know-how for the Kingdom at Semple Stadium as they set up another final meeting with Monaghan on September 29th.
The Rebelettes beat Monaghan in the 2008 and 2011 finals – and in last year’s semi-final – and their eyes are on three-in-a-row as another September showpiece looms.
Cork took the game to Kerry from the start at Semple Stadium and built up a 1-3 to 0-1 lead within 12 minutes.
Doireann O'Sullivan and Annie Walsh were involved in the build-up for Mulcahy's first goal in the eighth minute, as the Rockbán attacker finished clinically from close range at the Killinan End.
But after Cork moved five points clear, Munster champions Kerry replied with four unanswered points to move back into contention.
Geraldine O’Flynn, brilliant once again in the Cork half back line, kicked a point from play before Mulcahy struck again in the 28th minute, finishing from close range with a palmed effort from Ciara O’Sullivan’s pass.
Kerry hit back with two of the last three points of the first half and at the break, Cork led by 2-5 to 0-7.
In the second half, Kerry twice got to within three points of the Rebelettes.
But frustratingly, the Kingdom could never quite get close enough to threaten another upset against the pre-match favourites.
Cork called upon all of their reserves of experience and in the second half, Mulcahy kicked two classy points from play to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Despite only kicking four points in total during the second half, Cork kept Kerry comfortably at arm’s length, with Briege Corkery and O’Flynn both excellent in defence.
At midfield, Deirdre O'Reilly enjoyed some good moments as quarter-final player of the match Juliet Murphy, who started at wing forward, provided an extra body around the middle third.
As an attacking force, Cork were relatively non-existent in the second half as they sat back and soaked up the Kerry pressure.
At times, there were eight, nine and even ten Cork players behind the ball and that cluster of players formed an impenetrable wall for Kerry.
And once again, the Kingdom suffered big game heartbreak against a Cork team that just keeps on rolling.
SCORERS – Cork: V Mulcahy 2-3 (0-1f), G O'Flynn 0-3 (2f), Annie Walsh 0-2, N Cleary 0-1. Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-4f, D Corridan & P Dennehy 0-2, B Breen, S Houlihan (f) & M Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
CORK: M O'Brien; AM Walsh, B Stack, D O'Reilly B Corkery, R Buckley, G O'Flynn; J Murphy, Angela Walsh; N Cleary, C O'Sullivan, Annie Walsh; V Mulcahy, D O'Sullivan, R Ní Bhuachalla. Subs: O Farmer for Ní Bhuachalla (37), O Finn for C O'Sullivan (40), A Barrett for AM Walsh (53), E Farmer for Annie Walsh (56), V Foley for D O'Sullivan (57).
KERRY: E Murphy; C Lynch, A Desmond, A Lyons; B Lane, C Kelly, D Hallissey; E Sherwood, B Breen; S Houlihan, D Corridan, A Brosnan; P Dennehy, L Galvin, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh. Subs: M Fitzgerald for Brosnan (ht), S.J. Joy for Lane (34), M O'Connell for Corridan (50).
Referee: M Farrelly (Cavan).