BY NIALL SHERRY
Stripey Women have plenty to ponder ahead of Tipp game
Very Camogie League
Division 1A, Round 4
UPMC Nowlan Park
Kilkenny’s sluggish start to the camogie season continued last weekend as Brian Dowling’s charges slumped to a 10-point defeat to Cork at UPMC Nowlan Park in the first part of the ‘double header’ with their hurling counterparts.
It’s now just one win from four games in this season’s Very Camogie League for our senior ladies, with attention now turning to the final game against Tipperary this weekend. While not mathematically certain, it would take another defeat for the Cats, along with a huge win for Dublin over The Banner for the relegation issue to arise.
The Stripey Women took to the Nowlan Park pitch without the services of some key figures, Katie Nolan, Miriam Walsh and the trusty Densie Gaule. This was always going to make the task of repeating last season’s All-Ireland final win, a difficult one.
Playing with the advantage of a strong wind in the opening period, the home side opening the scoring, courtesy of a fine point by the returning Kellyann Doyle. The Rebel’s hit back straight away before Sophie O’Dwyer slotted over her first placed ball of the game, the James Stephens woman got the nod for free taking in Denise Gaule’s absence. Young Ireland’s Steffi Fitgerald got in on the scoring act too, but Matthew Twomey’s side replied with scores from Laura Hayes and the impressive Fiona Keating, who was being deployed in midfield.
Sophie O’Dwyer then struck a brace of points including a lovely one from play, but a second point from play by Keating and two well-struck free’s from the reliable Amy O’Connor saw the visitors take a 0-5 to 0-4 lead midway through the first half. Two further points from O’Connor (free) and a fine effort from Cliona Healy saw the visitors build a 3-point lead with about ten minutes remaining in the first half.
Piltown’s Katie Power then split the posts with a lovely effort and The Village’s O’Dwyer rifled over her second of the day from play to reduce the Cork lead to just one point. This appeared to awake the Rebel’s and they went onto register the last four points of the opening period, including another classy effort from Keating who was instrumental in Cork’s surge to pull clear of the home side, despite playing against the strong wind. The scoreline at the short whistle read Kilkenny 0-7, Cork 0-12.
The home supporters would have been hoping for a fast start after the interval, but it would be las season’s O’Duffy Cup runners-up that continued their dominance by notching the first two scores of the second period with Fiona Keating and Saoirse McCarthy making it ‘double scores’ and making Kilkenny’s task even more difficult.
To their credit, Brian Dowling’s side responded by hitting the next two scores, including the only major of the day. Julieann Malone picked up possession and went on a great run on the right side. The Mullinavat woman cut inside the Cork full-back before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Amy Lee in the visitor’s goal. Katie Power then struck over a nice point to reduce the Rebels lead to just one score, but the ladies in red then hit 5 unanswered points from play to reassert their authority on proceedings and put the game beyond the reach of the Noresiders. O’Connor, Looney, Healy, Emma Murphy and Saoirse McCarthy all raising white flags for the unbeaten Leesiders.
Sophie O’Dwyer briefly ended the red run by slotting over her fifth point of the game and third placed ball, but Cork cancelled that out with a third point of the day for Cliona Healy. Dicksboro’s Aoife Prendergast then fired over a ‘45, for her side’s final score of the game, but there was still time for the visitors to tag on a further three scores to rubber stamp a thoroughly comprehensive win on Noreside. Final score at UPMC Nowlan Park, Kilkenny 0-10, Cork 0-23.
Kilkenny Scorers – Sophie O’Dwyer (0-5, 3f), Julianne Malone (1-0), Katie Power (0-2), Steffi Fitzgerald (0-1), Aoife Prendergast (0-1), Kellyann Doyle (0-1)
Cork Scorers – Amy O’Connor (0-5, 3f), Fiona Keating (0-4), Cliona Healy (0-3,1f), Sorcha McCartan (0-2, 1f), Saoirse McCarthy, Orlaith Cahalane, Hannah Looney (0-2 each), Laura Hayes, Emma Murphy, Ali Smith (0-1 each).
>> SHERRY SAYS…
Another difficult day at the office for our senior ladies. A third defeat in four league games, not ideal preparation for the defence of our All-Ireland crown. While relegation is unlikely, gaining a second league win of the season with victory over Tipperary this weekend would at least give the panel some confidence ahead of the business end of the season.
Great to see Kellyann Doyle starting in the black & amber again and notching a lovely point to boot. Sophie O’Dwyer did well, converting 3 from 5 of her placed ball opportunities. Julieann Malone’s goal was a fine individual effort, and we will need the Mullinavat woman to keep delivering, especially in the absence of POTY, Miriam Walsh.
Obviously, Mary O’Connell is off travelling, but a Kilkenny team without O’Connell, Denise Gaule, Katie Nolan and Miriam Walsh is going to have to dig a little deeper to grind out results. Against the top teams in the country, the challenge will be greater.
Brian Dowling has always championed the importance of the entire squad, and his belief and confidence in his panel will need to increase with the more important games looming.
Let’s topple Tipp and bring the curtain down on our Very Camogie League campaign.