Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Final Preview
Dublin v Kilkenny, Gaelic Grounds, Saturday 19th August @ 5.15pm
The first of Saturday’s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Finals sees the surprise package Dublin come up against the reigning All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in what is sure to be an intriguing battle. Dublin are worthy of their place in this year’s semi-final after taking 3rd spot in group 1 followed by a superb victory over Wexford in their quarter final. Few would have tipped Dublin at the start of the year but after witnessing their performance against Wexford in the quarter final (where they claimed victory on a score line of 1-16 to 0-12) it is clear to see that they have made great progress in 2017 under the guidance of former Kilkenny hurler David Herity. The way they recovered from a slow start against Wexford where they conceded the opening 3 scores to go on and dominate the game was most impressive. When Wexford began their fightback in the final quarter and started to eat into Dublin’s lead, Dublin never panicked but instead Ali Twomey goaled to seal their win.
Saturday’s game will pose an even bigger test as they pit themselves against current All-Ireland and League champions. Kilkenny who are managed again this year by Ann Downey have shown all the signs of a team determined to retain the title they captured in great fashion last September. They topped group 1 with three wins from four over Waterford, Dublin and Galway and a draw with Clare. The Clare result was their only blip in this year’s campaign when they needed a late Denise Gaule free to snatch a draw. However they got back on winning ways the following week with a win against Galway before recording a comfortable victory in their final group game against Dublin 3-13 to 0-8. When the sides met back in May in the Leinster championship it took Kilkenny extra time to finally see off the brave Dublin challenge. This wasn’t the case in their next meeting. The All-Ireland champions were never in trouble and first half goals from Miriam Walsh (2) and Danielle Morrissey put them in the driving seat as they led at the break 3-8 to 0-5. It was a difficult outing for Dublin as they struggled to break down the Kilkenny rear-guard. But with an impressive win over Wexford in the quarter-final Dublin will certainly be hoping to put up a much better showing on Saturday in the Gaelic Grounds.
Against Wexford the defence was led by goal keeper Faye McCarthy who pulled off a number of point blank saves along with stopping a penalty. In front of her full-back Eve O’Brien did an excellent marking job on Una Leacy while Hannah Hegarty starred at wing back scoring a great point from distance in the first half. The opposition on Saturday in the Gaelic Grounds will be a different class and will be firm favourites. With a forward line that includes the inform Danielle Morrissey, the talented Katie Power and the pacey Shelly Farrell the Dublin defence will have to be at their very best and limit the space for the Kilkenny attack. In midfield Dublin’s Eimear McCarthy dominated against Wexford picking off 2 long range points in the first half. Kilkenny’s Anne Dalton is likely to sit back deep in defence in front of her full backline with the Kilkenny midfield also dropping back. This will mean scores will be hard to come by and Eimear McCarthy will look to shoot from distance again on Saturday. Aisling Maher was a constant threat against Wexford. Operating at full forward she finished with 7 points, 5 of which came from frees. Expect Kilkenny to mark her very tightly on Saturday with Dalton sweeping up in front to cut out the supply. Dublin will need another big performance from Ali Twomey to have a chance of reaching September’s final. With Meighan and Anna Farrell, Julie Ann Malone and player of the year Denise Gaule also in their ranks it’s very hard to see past a Kilkenny win. They will be aware of the threat that Dublin possess and will have noted their hard working display in the quarter final. They will also have memories of their close encounter back in May. With only one win away from a return to Croke Park expect a professional and ruthless display from Kilkenny that will see them withstand the best efforts from Dublin and run out winners.