BY NIALL SHERRY
Dowling will demand more in Galway clash
Very Camogie League Division 1A
TEG Cusack Park, Ennis
Clare 2-7 Kilkenny 0-11
All-Ireland champions Kilkenny will host reigning league champions Galway tomorrow, knowing that they will need to up their game following a surprising first round loss to Clare last weekend.
As the cliché goes, goals win games, and this certainly proved the case in Ennis last Sunday when The Bannerwomen came out 2-point winners against Brian Dowling’s charges. The Kilkenny manager will no doubt put his team through their paces this week, in advance of the westerners, who also fell at the first hurdle to the Tipperary ladies. Perhaps this is a sign that the gap between the counties is closing.
John Carmody’s side got off to a flyer and had 1-1 on the score board before the Cats got off the mark. A point from the talented Chloe Morey, was quickly followed by a fortuitous goal courtesy of Caoimhe Carmody’s whose early long-distance effort deceived Kilkenny’s All-Star netminder Aoife Norris.
Player of the year, Miriam Walsh slotted over a nice point to settle the visitors’ nerves, but goal scorer Carmody rifled over a fine point to restore Clare’s early 4-point lead. The next score would also come from the home side, this time corner forward Ziyan Spillane raising a flag. With 14 minutes on the clock, Windgap’s Denise Gaule popped over a free to move Kilkenny onto 2 points, but again the hosts hit back with a well taken score from centre-forward Lorna McNamara.
Michaela Kenneally registered the Stripeywomen’s 3rd point of the day on 18 minutes, and the game got a little scrappy until Clare full-back Clare Hehir got the first score some seven minutes later. The ever-reliable Denise Gaule rifled over her second free of the game just before the short whistle sounded, leaving the score at the break, Clare 1-5, Kilkenny 0-4.
Brian Dowling must have let his side know that the opening 30 minutes wasn’t acceptable, as the All-Ireland champions had more spring int their step in the opening stages of the second period.
Dicksboro’s Aoife Prendergast got the first score when play resumed and this was followed by further Cats scores from Denise Gaule and Miriam Walsh, who notched a brace each to leave the Noresiders with a 1-point lead after just five minutes of second half action. Another hiatus in scoring followed, and this lull was broken with a point from Clare midfielder, Caoimhe Kelly half-way through the second period.
The Bannerwomen then pounced for their second major, this time from No.14 Aine O’Loughlin which gave the home side a 3-point lead. Cats boss Brian Dowling made a double change, replacing Grace Walsh and Sophie O’Dwyer with Lisdowney’s Claire Phelan and young Thomastown star, Sarah Barcoe.
Piltown’s Katie Power then split the posts to reduce the gap, but the home side then controlled the game during another lull in scoring. Two more scores came in additional time, one from goal scorer Aine O’Loughlin and the other from Cats substitute Sarah Barcoe. When the long whistle sounded the home side had deservedly taken the spoils on a scoreline of Clare 2-7, Kilkenny 0-11.
>> SHERRY SAYS…
Not the start that the players or management would have wanted, but better to get that performance out of the system now. Round one of the league done and dusted, the last week spent preparing for the visit of league champions Galway. Brian Dowling will know that if his side hurl like they did in Ennis, it could be a long afternoon at UPMC Nowlan Park against the Tribeswomen.
Kilkenny had the wind in the second half and clawed back the half-time deficit and actually took the lead but failed to kick-on and secure the win they wanted. We must remember that it’s only February, but like their hurling counterparts, condensed season’s leaves little room for error.
As the match fitness and sharpness improves, we will then hopefully see the true quality and form from our senior camogs.
We need to talk about the 2023 PwC Camogie All-Stars tour. It was announced last week that the tour would take place between 19th & 25th May in Calgary, Alberta. According to the provisional dates for championship fixtures, that would leave just around one week for players to prepare for the biggest competition. This year’s tour see’s All-Stars from both 2021 and 2022 heading to Canada, with some TEN Kilkenny players eligible to travel. The GPA has contacted the Camogie Association to seek alternative dates and hopefully common sense will prevail. Players shouldn’t feel that they have to choose between the All-Star trip and inter-county championship preparation.
Congratulations to Loreto Kilkenny on their fantastic All-Ireland title last weekend. The girls claimed a record equaling EIGHT All-Ireland title as they proved much too strong for Derry side St Pat’s Maghera. Loreto had an impressive 14-ppints to spare over their Ulster opponents at the final whistle, with Dicksboro’s Amy Clifford hitting 1-5 in her side’s final victory.
The Kilkenny side had ten different scorers on the day, while only Carla Collins registered for the beaten finalists.
As mentioned, that’s an 8th national title, meaning Loreto have now drawn level with St Raphael’s Loughrea, and no doubt will be keen to go one better next year.