The Littlewoods Ireland Division 1 league got underway at the weekend with no major surprises as all 4 counties who contested the All-Ireland semi-finals last August namely Kilkenny, Cork, Galway and Wexford all recorded opening round victories.
Kilkenny 4.13 Tipperary 0-8
Kilkenny began their opening game of the year with the same superb form that they finished 2016 in with a comprehensive victory over near neighbours Tipperary. Tipperary travelled to Kilkenny hoping to put one over on the All-Ireland and League champions but the hosts showed that last year was no ‘flash in the pan’ as they stormed to victory with a devastating second half performance that Tipperary had no answer to. Tipp registered the first score of the game with a point from Orla O’Dwyer and it was point for point for the opening 20 minutes before points from Miriam Walsh and a goal from Jenny Clifford on the stroke of half time put Kilkenny 1-7 to 5 points in front at the break. On the restart Kilkenny found another gear and their ferocious attacking play put Michelle Quilty through for a goal. From there they never looked back and a second goal from Quilty and one from Katie Power gave them a commanding lead. Tipperary on the other hand could only manage 3 second half points 2 from Nicole Walsh and one from a Cait Devane free who made a welcome return to play after missing out all last year through injury.
Cork 1-7 Dublin 0-4
In a tight low scoring affair Cork took all 3 points on offer with a home victory over Dublin. The sides were level at 3 points apiece at the break before Cork went ahead with 3 points in a row in the second half. Dublin only managed a single point in the second half while a late injury time goal by Paudie Murray’s side sealed victory.
Galway 1-21 Clare 0-7
Galway got their league campaign off to an impressive start with a well-earned 17 point win over Clare. Clare opened the scoring with the first 2 points from Zoe McLnerney and Regan Conway but Galway after a slow start soon sprung to life and Ailish O’Reilly and Aoife Donohue found their scoring rhythm with 8 points in quick succession to leave Galway leading 8 points to 2 at half time. Despite being without the services off the Sarsfields contingent Galway fielded a strong side which included Rebecca Hennelly, Heather Cooney and Ann Marie Starr. Unfortunately for Clare the opposition was just too strong for them and the second half was no contest as Galway kept the score board ticking over with an impressive array of points before Ciara Murphy goaled in the 58th minute. Clare’s second half scores all came from frees by the accurate Chloe Morey.
Limerick 0-19 Meath 0-7
Limerick will be very pleased with their opening game of the league as they dominated division 1 league newcomers Meath at home. They led from the get go and took a 7 point cushion in at the break. Meath battled hard throughout and had some fine scores of their own but never looked like causing an upset as Nimah Mulcahy helped herself to 10 points to leave Limerick 12 points ahead at the final whistle.
Wexford 1 -11 Waterford 1-10
In by far the closest and most exciting game of the weekend Waterford showed tremendous spirit in the final quarter to fight back and almost snatch a late victory despite being reduced to 14 players earlier in the game. Playing against the wind in the first half Wexford had the better of the opening exchanges and led at the interval 7 points to 4. Soon after the restart Linda Bolger raised a green flag for the visitors and the game looked to be gone beyond Waterford’s reach when Ciara Whyte was shown a second yellow card. However with 9 minutes remaining Beth Carton led a Waterford fight back that yielded her and Waterford a goal and 4 points and bought the deficit down to a single point. She had an opportunity to level the game but her last minute long distance free trailed just wide and Wexford hung on for the narrowest of margins. For Waterford Beth Carton was the start with a personal tally of 1-8 in total while Chloe Foxe was in fine scoring form for Wexford who were pleased to go home with all 3 points in the bag.