By Jackie Cahill
Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald hailed a "clinical" and "magnificent" attacking display as the TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football champions demolished Galway by 24 points in Saturday's quarter-final at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar.
Cork lost to Waterford and Kerry in Munster, and did just about enough to get past Monaghan in the qualifiers, but they opened up with a devastating display to dispatch Connacht champions Galway.
Even without injured 2016 Player of the Year Bríd Stack, Cork produced arguably their best display under Fitzgerald to set up a semi-final with Mayo on September 2.
Galway were buried under a six-goal avalanche and while Cork may have been written off after those provincial defeats left the threat of relegation hanging over them, reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Fitzgerald purred: "We were very clinical today and I think our forward play was magnificent at times.
"Obviously, the game was over at half-time - 12 points up with a gale force wind.
"The only worry was that we might slacken off a little bit and let them back into it, but we didn't."
When asked if that display was the best he's seen from his players during his reign, Fitzgerald responded: "It's hard to say. In terms of scoring, probably yes. "But it's in their locker. That forward line, it's probably the first time they've played together all year.
"We had Ciara (O'Sullivan) away and we had Doireann (O'Sullivan) injured for a long time.
"(Eimear) Scally had niggling injuries. Áine Terry (O'Sullivan) I thought was absolutely fabulous today.
"Hopefully that will do her confidence the world of good now.
"Look, we know we're in a semi-final and that's grand but we have a formidable task ahead of us now."
Fitzgerald added: "I suppose the pressure was off us today in the sense that, with the Monaghan game we had this relegation thing hanging over us.
"We're very proud, we didn't want to be involved in any relegation battles or anything like that so that was probably more pressure on us. Today they were able to express themselves a bit more."
That they did - and the quest for seven-in-a-row remains very much on track.