Goals win games, Dublin’s first-half storm and a mouth-watering All-Ireland final set

1. A mouth-watering All-Ireland senior final ahead

AFTER TODAY’S CLASHES at Dr Hyde Park, we now know our 2018 TG4 All-Ireland senior championship semi-finalists — Cork and Dublin.

Dublin and Cork are back in the All-Ireland final.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The two forces will go head-to-head once again on the biggest day in the ladies football calendar as they lock horns for the Brendan Martin Cup in Croke Park on Sunday, 16 September.

They met in the showpiece in 2014, 2015 and 2016 with the Rebels coming out on top by the narrowest of margins on each occasion. With that elusive crown firmly in their grip after they beat Mayo in the 2017 decider, Dublin will be hoping that they can finally exact sweet, sweet revenge on Cork on the biggest stage after years of heartbreak.

Ephie Fitzgerald’s side on the other hand, will be gunning for glory after their absence on last years big day, as they bid for their 12th All-Ireland title in 14 years.

2. Goals win games

Dublin fired four goals past Galway, while Cork hit two on their way to knocking Donegal out of the 2018 championship. The Tribeswomen raised just one green flag — and it was almost just a consolation at that stage — while fellow losing side Donegal failed to rattle the net.

Action from Cork-Donegal earlier.

Source: Eóin Noonan/SPORTSFILE

It is a cliché but goals do win games and that was evident today in Roscommon. When Orla Finn palmed the ball into the net in the 18th minute, it sent Cork into a 1-3 to 0-3 lead and from there, they never looked back. The difference from there was never less than three.

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In the second semi-final, Nicole Owens set the tone early on with an absolutely superb individual effort. With every goal Dublin fired home — Sinead Aherne added a first-half penalty and another from play, while Lyndsey Davey palmed home a fourth — they took more and more confidence from them, upped the ante and Galway heads dropped further.

3. Galway and Donegal fall just short again

So close but yet so far. Ailbhe Davoren told The42‘s Ladies Football Show this week that Galway were sick of being a ‘nearly team’ but they’ll have to wait until 2019 to try and cross that line again.

Looking at last year, they beat Mayo in the Connacht final but they were hammered out of the All-Ireland quarter-final by Cork while Mayo reached the decider. This year, they were the only side to have beaten Dublin in a competitive fixture, but they were pipped at the death in the league semi-final — then there was today.

Galway’s Tracey Leonard dejected.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Donegal likewise. Last year, Cork edged them in the league final. They crashed out of the All-Ireland championship quarter finals that season too and today was their first-ever All-Ireland senior semi-final. Falling just short once again.

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4. Dublin’s first-half storm

The half-time score was 3-5 to 0-3. Sinead Aherne was the leading light in Dublin’s massive first half and finished with an individual tally of 2-4 as the interval whistle sounded.

As Mick Bohan alluded to afterwards, Galway started brightest in their two encounters this year and the Sky Blues knew that they needed a strong opening few minutes to get a foothold on the game.

The opening exchanges were very intense and Owens’ fifth-minute finish was exactly what the reigning champions needed to settle themselves and lay down a marker. From there, they just blew Galway away as they built up an 11-point half-time lead.

And although Stephen Glennon’s side reacted well on the restart and perhaps dominated for parts, Dublin had the groundwork done and the result was pretty much settled.

5. Cork’s strength all over 

Over the last two years, there has been a lot of talk about transition surrounding Ephie Fitzgerald’s charges. Yes, they lost some stalwarts and yes, they failed to reach the All-Ireland final last year after what felt like a lifetime at the top table — but younger players have well and truly matured and helped established Cork as serious contenders again.

Hannah Looney celebrates at the final whistle.

Source: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

The Rebels’ forward line fired home their 24th and 25th goals in six championship outings earlier today as they racked up a tally of 2-11. Doireann O’Sullivan must be singled out for her huge performance, immense running and three influential points to spur her side on. Eimear Scally was another to find scintillating form while Saoirse Noonan’s impact from the bench was hugely effective once again.

But while their attacking display may grab the headlines, their defensive one was probably most impressive. Full-back Róisín Phelan showed real leadership as she marshalled her troops and they shut down one of the most prolific inside forward lines in the country.

– Updated 22.32

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