BY NIALL SHERRY
Very Camogie League Division 1A
Piltown was the setting as our Senior camog’s brought the curtain down on a disappointing Very League campaign with a hard-fought 1-point win over Tipperary, who themselves missed out on a final berth following Galway’s win over Cork.
In what can only be described as a challenging league for our senior stripey women, Densie Gaule would once again prove the difference as Brian Dowling’s side edged The Premier County in Piltown.
In a low-scoring game, Julieann Malone got Kilkenny’s first score of the game after ten minutes, before The Village’s Sophie O’Dwyer levelled matters with a well-taken free just three minutes later. Tipperary duo Grace O’Brien and Eimear McGrath then added a pair of scores and there was one in reply from Windgap’s Gaule, to leave the visitors 1 point to the good, but the game was failing to spark.
The opening period only yielded two further scores, with Mullinavat’s Julieann Malone and The Village’s Sophie O’Dwyer notching points to leave the home side one ahead at the interval, 0-6 to 0-5.
Nenagh Eire Og’s Grace O’Brien drew the sides level in the opening stages of the second half with a nice point from play before Sophie O’Dwyer rifled over two more placed balls to punish some Tipperary ill-discipline. Bill Mullaney’s team knew that they needed to leave Piltown with at least a share of the spoils to make the league final and they responded in exactly that fashion, hitting three unanswered points in a devastating 8-minute spell.
Clonoulty Rossmore’s Cait Devine popped over a free to make it seven a-piece and this was built on with another placed ball effort, this time from Drom-Inch’s Eimear McGrath and a fine point from play by Burgess Duharra’s Caoimhe Maher to leave the visitors 2 points ahead coming down the straight. Tipp midfielder Carly Hennessy then joined her midfield partner Teresa Ryan in referee Justin Heffernan’s book for an over aggressive tackle.
Brian Dowling’s ladies needed to hit back, and they dug deep to get back on terms. The ever-reliable Denise Gaule fired over a free and the lively Julieann Malone tagged on another score from open play to leave the teams all-square with about 44 minutes played in Piltown.
Cait Devine and Sophie O’Dwyer then shared the next 3 points with the Premier woman edging that battle 2-1 to nudge the visitors ahead. With about 8 minutes of normal time remaining, Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams Eimear Heffernan struck over a lovely point as the away support started to plan for a league final at Croker!
Denise Gaule then split the posts with a placed ball before Eimear McGrath sent over what the Tipperary players and supporters thought would be the winning score. This Kilkenny side may have been struggling to spark, but when you have winners and warriors like Denise Gaule on the pitch, you always have a chance. The Windgap woman didn’t disappoint and showed her mettle, when she stood over two more placed ball opportunities, nailing both to secure just a second Very Camogie League win of the season for Brian Dowling’s side, on a scoreline of Kilkenny 0-14, Tipperary 0-13.
>> SHERRY SAYS…
I’d imagine that both players and management are glad to get that difficult Very league campaign put to bed. It was vital that we finished the group on a winning note, and that we did at Piltown last weekend.
Getting players back while suffering other injuries has been the order of the day so far this season, but now Brian Dowling and his management team can start to prepare for the business end of the season, and more importantly, the defence of the O’Duffy Cup.
Last weekend’s win over an in-form Tipperary side came about with a dogged display where the stripey women had to show character and resilience to emerge with maximum points. Denise Gaule, Julieann Malone and Sophie O’Dwyer were key figures in securing this win.
The real hard work can start now as our senior camogs look towards a Leinster Championship semi-final date with the winners of Offaly and Westmeath quarter-final on May 6th. The Provincial final is penciled in for the following weekend and once this campaign is completed, attention turns to the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Camogie Championship.
Kilkenny have been placed in Group 2 as they seek to defend their title.
Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Championship
Group 1: Cork, Galway, Clare, Down
Group 2: Kilkenny, Dublin, Tipperary, Wexford
Group 3: Waterford, Limerick, Antrim, Offaly
Brian Dowling’s team will begin their defence of the O’Duffy Cup on the weekend of 10/11 June against our Slaneyside neighbours, Wexford. Next up will be an encounter with the Ladies from the Capital on the weekend of 24th/25th June. The final group game for our senior ladies will be another meeting with Tipperary on the weekend of 1st/2nd July.
* Congratulations to our Intermediate camogs who qualified for the Very League Division 2B final, despite losing to The Rebelette’s in the opening game at Piltown last week. Seamus Kelly’s charges were well beaten by their opponents and finished 8 points in arrears, but like their senior counterparts, it’s all about building for the championship.
Our Kittens take to Leinster with a quarter-final match-up against Dublin, and if they successfully navigate that challenge, they will face Wexford in the semi-final. The intermediate provincial final is scheduled for May 20th.
Our Kittens have been drawn in group 1 of the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship, and no doubt have a tough test to progress.
Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Intermediate Championship
Group 1: Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny, Kildare, Galway
Group 2: Derry, Wexford, Carlow, Antrim
Group 3: Meath, Laois, Kerry, Westmeath
First up for the Kittens, it will be a tie against Dublin on the weekend of 27th/28th May. The next two weekends will see Seamus Kelly’s charges take on Cork & Galway and we’ll see how the group shapes up at this point, ahead of a final group match against Kildare on the weekend of 24th/25th June.