By Daire Walsh
The outstanding Orla Finn scored 0-12 at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar as Cork kickstarted their All-Ireland SFC Group 1 campaign with a convincing win over Cavan.
Eimear Scally, Saoirse Noonan and Libby Coppinger also stood out on a day when Ephie Fitzgerald’s charges issued a strong statement of intent in their quest to reclaim the Brendan Martin Cup.
Following an initially tight opening, the Leeside challenge pushed into gear. Finn (two), Aine O’Sullivan and Eimear Scally added points, before an O’Sullivan shot squeezed underneath Elaine Walsh for a Cork goal in the 12th-minute.
The league champions remained in control, until Cavan responded with a brace of goals to force their way back into contention.
After Aisling Sheridan superbly fired beyond the reach of Martina O’Brien, Aisling Maguire unleashed a powerful penalty into the top left-hand corner of the net.
A Scally point settled Cork and Coppinger then linked up with Noonan to grab her side’s second major on 25 minutes. Donna English added an additional point for Cavan but with Finn in sparkling form, Cork ended the half nine points in front on a scoreline of 2-13 to 2-4.
Within 60 seconds of the restart, the impressive Kinsale attacker contributed her fifth point from play to move the Cork lead into double digits.
Cavan gained brief respite through Aisling Sheridan, only for the Munster side to re-assert their authority.
Having been denied by an outstanding Walsh save at the beginning of the half, Noonan finally got the better of the Killygarry netminder at the end of a sweeping move.
Coppinger got her second goal and Cork’s fourth before team captain Doireann O’Sullivan was introduced for her first appearance of the championship.
Finn continued to do the bulk of the damage for Cork and Scally’s successful penalty enhanced their tally inside the closing-quarter.
Doireann O’Sullivan capped a fine cameo with a point on 53 minutes, in advance of swapped goals between Cavan substitute Geraldine Sheridan and Orlagh Farmer.
Aisling Sheridan and Lauren McVeety were on target late on for the Breffni county, who are still in line for a quarter-final place should Armagh fail to beat Cork at O’Connor Park, Tullamore next weekend.
Scorers - Cork: O Finn 0-12 (6f), L Coppinger 2-0, E Scally (1-0 pen), S Noonan 1-2 each, A O’Sullivan, O Farmer 1-1 each, D O’Sullivan 0-1. Cavan: A Maguire (1-0 pen), A Sheridan 1-2 each, G Sheridan 1-0, A Gilsenan (f), M Sheridan, D English, L McVeety 0-1 each.
Cork: M O’Brien; S Kelly, H Looney, E Meaney; M O’Callaghan, M Duggan, E Spillane; A Hutchings, A O’Sullivan; L Coppinger, C O’Sullivan, O Finn; O Farmer, S Noonan, E Scally.
Subs: E Kiely for Looney (h-t), R Ni Bhuachalla for Noonan, D O’Sullivan for Coppinger (both 40), D Kiely for O’Callaghan, M Ambrose for Meaney (both 52).
Cavan: E Walsh; S Reilly, R Doonan, S Greene; N Byrd, S Lynch, M Sheridan; D English, S O’Sullivan; C Finnegan, A Sheridan, A Gilsenan; L Fitzpatrick, A Maguire, L McVeety.
Subs: E Lonagair for Finnegan, J Moore for Doonan, N Keenaghan for M Sheridan (all 43), K McIntyre for Lynch, G Sheridan for Maguire (both 49).
Ref: Gus Chapman (Sligo).Tweet