Captain & Cup! Aoife Prendergast with the O’Duffy

Cats claim O’Duffy title in Croker epic

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final

Croke Park, Dublin
Cork 1-12 Kilkenny 1-13

The O’Duffy Cup is back on Noreside for the 15th time following an epic final between old foes Kilkenny and Cork. Just one-point separated the sides at the final whistle, and thankfully it was those in black & amber that were joyous when Kildare referee Ray Kelly brought proceedings to a close in front of just under 25,000 spectators.

It would be one of the ‘old guard’ that struck the winning point in the 62nd minute. Windgap’s Denise Gaule stepped up and rifled over the pressure free after the excellent Miriam Walsh had been fouled.

Those in attendance and watching at home were expecting another titanic battle, but Kilkenny’s fast start to the game might have thrown those predictions.

Cork made one change to their starting line-up with attacker Cliona Healy missing out and Ciara O’Sullivan getting the nod and lining out in defence. This allowed Killeagh’s Laura Treacy to play the sweeper role for the Leesiders, while Lisdowney’s Claire Phelan did likewise for the Cats.

Kilkenny came out of the blocks fast, winning the throw-in and going on the attack. The ball was worked to corner-back Tiffanie Fitzgerald who showed great composure to split the posts after just 15 seconds. The Rebel’s thought they had equalised three minute later, through ex-Down star Sorcha McCartan, but her cracking effort was adjudged to have missed the target after intervention from Hawk Eye.

Some nice play from Mullinavat’s Julieann Malone saw her slip the ball to the supporting Katie Nolan who pointed to double the Noresider’s lead in the 5th minute. Piltown’s Katie Power sent two efforts wide in the opening minutes, but her team was soon four ahead, thanks to two carbon copy points from Tullaroan’s Miriam Walsh. The No.14 outmuscled her marker, Libby Coppinger and struck two sumptuous points.

Denise Gaule then struck over a brace herself, both beautifully executed points from the Hogan Stand side of Croker. Denise showing that there’s more to placed balls in her locker. Fifteen minutes played at headquarters and Brian Dowling’s team had notched 6-points without reply.

The first real scare for the Stripey Women came shortly after. Douglas’s Katrina Mackey burst through the centre of the Kilkenny defence and looked certain to raise a green flag until a timely intervention from Tullaroan’s Grace Walsh, who appeared from nowhere to somehow prevent the Cork player’s effort from troubling netminder Aoife Norris. Grace appeared to hurt her shoulder while making the challenge and required some medical attention on two occasions following her last-ditch heroics.

There was to be no denying Cork on their next sortie into the Cats defence. Courcey Rovers Fiona Keating picked up the ball and stepped on the gas to get away from the Kilkenny rearguard. The centre-forward steadied herself before striking a hard low shot across Aoife Norris and into the Cats net. That green flag was the first raised in the decider by the Rebels.

From the puck-out, Kilkenny moved the ball up field and Katie Nolan took possession before slipping a nice pass to Michaela Kenneally who struck a fine point. This was to be the Noresider’s last score of the opening half.

The direct running of Cork’s forwards was causing problems for Dowling’s defence. The powerful Mackey was then halted illegally by Claire Phelan and St Vincent’s Amy O’Connor slotted over the placed ball to eat into the Kilkenny lead. Another foul, this time by Denise Gaule saw O’Connor repeat the dose on 28 minutes to leave just two between the sides. Goal scorer Keating then emerged with the ball following a skirmish before splitting the posts to make it a 1-point game. Then deep into first-half injury time Sorcha McCartan found the on-running Mackey who notched her first point of the game to leave the side’s deadlocked at the break, Cork 1-4, Kilkenny 0-7.

Cork started the second period like they finished the first and took the lead for the first time in the final when Amy O’Connor slotted another placed ball after Aisling Thompson was fouled.

Kilkenny broke their scoring drought just a minute later, when Miriam Walsh outwitted Libby Coppinger before pointing from over her shoulder. Walsh was roaming round the cork defence like a wrecking ball, you could sense the fear when the Tullaroan woman was on the ball. Cork’s Meabh Murphy was next up to try and halt Miriam, but like those before her, she failed and also saw yellow for her troubles. St Martin’s Katie Nolan duly popped over the placed ball to give the Cats the lead again.

Fiona Keating was proving to be a real handful for the Kilkenny defence. The centre forward was getting on a lot of loose ball and again penetrated the Cats line and rifled over a good score. Katrina Mackey then took one of the best scores of the day from out near the touchline to edge the Rebel’s ahead again. Piltown’s Katie Power was then upended and the other Katie fired over the free awarded.

Another Courcey Rovers player, wing-back Saoirse McCarthy then went on one of her trademark runs before striking a lovely point. Kilkenny’s No.9, Power was becoming an increasingly influential figure and confirmed this when she showed great skill to win the ball and feed the supporting Katie Nolan who applied the finish that the move deserved. St Catherine’s Laura Hayes was then adjudged to have been impeded and Amy O’Connor fired over the free to nudge Matthew Twomey’s team ahead.

Brian Dowling then introduced The Village’s Sophie O’Dwyer for Windgap’s Michaela Kenneally, a move that pay huge dividends some ten minutes later. Katie Nolan was then fouled and converted the free herself. The same player had the chance to add another moments later, but her free was off-target.

The Leesiders then retook the lead with ten minutes remaining when Fiona Keating combined with Hannah Looney to allow the midfielder to give her side the lead again. Kilkenny then replaced Clara’s Mary O’ Connell with county captain Aoife Prendergast. Referee Ray Kelly then deemed Grace Walsh to have fouled Chloe Sigerson and Amy O’Connor added to her tally to push the Cork lead to two points.

Denise Gaule then had an opportunity to make it a one-point game, but her free was ruled wide via Hawk Eye. From the puck-out Gaule went hunting for the ball. Denise won the ball before scanning to see Katie Nolan running into space. The Windgap player struck a pass to Nolan who turned Laura Treacy inside out before passing to Julieann Malone. Malone’s attempt was half blocked but Niamh Deely collected possession and struck her effort towards goal. Deely’s looping effort was batted down by Cork keeper Amy lee but the first person on the scene was the alert Sophie O’Dwyer who’s first-time shot hit the back of the Cork net. Two minutes of normal time remained; Kilkenny now led by 1 point.

Cork weren’t done yet. Katrina Mackey fired over a levelling score in the last minute. Surely a replay was now the most likely outcome? Kilkenny had other ideas.

The ever-dangerous Miriam Walsh was once again fouled. Denise Gaule stepped forward. She went through her normal free-taking routine before strike the ball sweetly between the Cork posts. We were almost 2 minutes into an additional four. The Game would go beyond the 65-minute marker. There was still time for Aisling Thompson to strike a late, late effort wide.

Then the moment of relief, joy and euphoria. Referee Ray Kelly sounded the long whistle.

Kilkenny were All-Ireland Senior Camogie champions for the 2nd time in three years. Cork beaten. The O’Duffy Cup was about to come home.


Scorers for Kilkenny: K Nolan (0-5, 0-3 frees), S O’Dwyer (1-0), M Walsh and D Gaule (0-1 free) (0-3 each), M Kenneally and T Fitzgerald (0-1 each).

Scorers for Cork: F Keating (1-2), A O’Connor (0-5 frees), K Mackey (0-3), S McCarthy and H Looney (0-1 each).

KILKENNY: A Norris; M Teehan, G Walsh, T Fitzgerald; N Deely, C Phelan, S Fitzgerald; L Murphy, K Power; M O’Connell, M Kenneally, J Malone; M Walsh, D Gaule, K Nolan.

Subs: S Dwyer for M Kenneally (47), A Prendergast (Capt) for M O’Connell (54).

CORK: A Lee (Capt); M Murphy, L Coppinger, M Cahalane; L Treacy, C O’Sullivan, L Hayes; H Looney, A Thompson; K Mackey, F Keating, S McCarthy; C Sigerson, S McCartan, A O’Connor.

Subs: E Murphy for S McCartan (50), C Healy for M Murphy (53), O Cahalane for C Sigerson (62).

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)


Wow. An All-Ireland final that delivered…. and then some!

Last weekend’s camogie final had a little bit of everything, sublime skill, excitement, drama, tension and of course, the right result!

A 15th O’Duffy Cup secured for the Stripey Women. The look on Brian Dowling’s face at the final whistle said it all. Mission accomplished.

Our ladies came out of the blocks so quickly, we had 6 points on the board before the Rebel’s registered a score. We were on top, both physically and mentally. It was like the semi-final, we hunted in packs, turned-over the opponent and were first to most breaking balls. But wait, wasn’t this game meant to be too close to call, potentially needing a replay to crown a champion? Yes, of course it was. Once Fiona Keating struck Cork’s first score with 20 minutes on the clock, the balance tilted in favour of the Leesiders.

Level at the interval, and several other times during the 65-odd minutes played, Sophie O’Dwyer’s goal in the 58th minute turned the tables again, this time in Kilkenny’s favour. Indeed, it would be a Densie Gaule free that saw the Cats home by one.

The Windgap players performance in Croker was everything that you would want from a legend of the game. Denise was everywhere and there as well. Blocking, hooking, tackling. Having been denied an earlier free with the intervention of Hawk Eye, Gaule showed incredible leadership to strike the winning score.

Miriam Walsh, scored three stunning points and was a nuisance throughout. Libby Coppinger will be seeing the Tullaroan forward in her sleep for weeks to come! Katie Nolan as like a little metronome, non-stop, popping up on every blade of grass at the Jones’s Road venue. The St Martin’s attacker also struck over some vital placed balls on the day too.

In defence, Grace Walsh put in another commanding display and was in good company as her No.6 Claire Phelan swept to great effect in front of the full back line.

Katie Power. Many words have been written about the Piltown player over the years. Katie was on crutches in 2020 when Brian Dowling’s team defeated Galway in the final. Just 2 years later Power is a crucial ingredient in the Cats recipe for success.

Some players have departed the scene since last year’s semi-final defeat to Cork, but those that remained and the new additions have blended together perfectly to create this winning group.

Congratulations to Brian Dowling, his entire backroom team and this magnificent panel of players.

O’Duffy could become an even more frequent visitor to Noreside over the next few years.

Enjoy the moment.




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