Two Thrilling Semi-Finals Pave the Way for a Mouth-Watering Final in September
Cork and Kilkenny both needed extra time to finally see off Wexford and Galway after a dramatic afternoon of Camogie which paves the way for a mouth-watering final on the 10th of September.
Cork 0-19 Wexford 0-15
At half time, full-time and half time of extra time it was all square between All-Ireland champions Cork and 2012 winners Wexford. On the resumption of extra time a massive free from midfield by Kate Kelly gave Wexford the lead but it was to be their final score in this titanic battle between two outstanding teams.
An Orla Cotter free was followed up in quick succession by points from Katriona Mackey, Hannah Looney and Briege Corkery as Cork’s superb fitness swung the game in their favour and they finished the strongest to see off a gritty Wexford side.The game began at an exciting pace with an Ashling Thompson point within a minute after she first blocked down Wexford defender Sara O’Connor. Paudie Murray elected to put experience defender Rena Buckley in full-back to mark the danger woman Una Leacy.
While Una always looked threatening Rena’s tight tenacious marking limited her to a single point. This meant Wexford were looking to their remaining forwards to come to the fore and they duly obliged with Una Sinnott, Katriona Parock and Linda Bolger all registering points in the first half along with a point from Emma Walsh in midfield and 3 points from Kate Kelly from placed balls. After an entertaining 30 minutes there was nothing to separate both sides with 8 points apiece.
Hannah Looney showed why she’s cemented her place in the Cork attack with 2 brilliantly taken points. Briege Corkery who this year is chasing her 7th senior All-Ireland Camogie medal also slotted over 2 points of her own in the 16th and 22nd minute. Despite the free flowing first half, the second half turned out to be low scoring affair with only one score from play. The intensity and excitement however never ceased and it took a point in the dying seconds of injury time from Katriona Parrock to send the game into injury time.
The first 10 minutes of injury time saw Mary Leacy switch to midfield and immediately exert her presence with a well taken point. Pamela Mackey who was making runs all day out of defence also pointed to leave the sides level again with 14 points each. Mags Darcy and Aoife Murray showed to everyone in attendance why they are two of the top keepers in the country with a number of great saves and well executed puck outs.
Wexford showed the same heart and determination that earned them a win over Tipperary in the quarter final but in the end they ran out of steam while Cork’s freshness and fitness gave them the momentum in the closing stages to claim victory. This was highlighted no more so by Briege Corkery who after 17 minutes of extra time had the energy to drop back into her own half and win possession and finish with a point at the opposite end. Gemma O’Connor was a stalwart throughout 80 minutes working tirelessly to sweep up everything that came her way while linking up with Orla Cotter and Ashling Thompson in midfield.
Her performance was awarded with a player of the match accolade and she along with her teammates can now look forward to another final in Croke Park on the second Sunday in September.
Kilkenny 3-15 Galway 1-19
Two goals in the opening half from Shelly Farrell and Michelle Quilty gave Kilkenny a 4 point lead at the break in the second semi-final in Semple Stadium. The second goal was a brilliant shot by Michelle Quilty who whipped on a dropping ball and fired to the top left corner to give Susan Earner no chance in the Galway goal. Kilkenny threatened to score more goals in the opening half by running straight through the heart of the Galway defence creating an overlap time and again.
Earner had to be at her very best to pull off two point blank saves to deny Kilkenny a third goal midway through the half. At the other end Ailish O’Reilly and Aoife Donohoe were causing trouble for the Kilkenny rear guard with 2 points each while the McGrath sisters Niamh and Orlaith also raised white flags in an action packed opening 30 minutes.
Both sides traded points at the beginning of the second half before the introduction of substitute Molly Dunne seemed to lift her side with Galway hitting 4 points without reply, 2 from Niamh McGrath and one each from Niamh Kilkenny and Dunne to reduce the gap to a single point. Denise Gaule who was excellent all day scored a free to extend Kilkenny’s lead to 2 points.
A nail biting final 10 minutes saw some great scores by both sets of forwards and when Denise Gaule pointed a monster free from midfield on the stroke of full time to put 4 between the sides Kilkenny looked to have one foot in the final.
Ollie Bergin’s side weren’t finished yet however and Ailish O’Reilly displayed real character to point in the 60th minute before finding the net in the 3rd minute of injury time to bring for the second time in a day a camogie semi-final to extra time. Niamh McGrath opened the scoring in extra time to move Galway into the lead. But then came the decisive score 2 minutes later as an Ann Dalton sideline deceived the Galway keeper and bounced under her outstretched hand and over the line.
This gave Kilkenny who at this stage had the advantage of a huge swell in support with the crowd building for the hurling game a two point cushion. Galway refused to lie down and Niamh Kilkenny who had grown in stature as the game progressed pointed to leave only 2 points between the sides at the break in extra time.
A Denise Gaule point her 9th of the day and first from play brought the gap back to 3 points and the remaining minutes saw Galway fight tooth and nail for a goal. But the Kilkenny defence led by Jacqui Frisby and Collette Dormer held strong and a pointed 45 from Rebecca Hennelly brought the curtain down on an exhilarating semi-final which saw Kilkenny claim victory on a final score of 3-15 to 1-19. After the game Kilkenny’s Denise Gaule was deservedly awarded player of the match for her brilliant accuracy from dead balls and fantastic display in midfield.