BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
All pics courtesy of Inpho
Ladies associations under pressure as players make point
Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship
Round 2, Parnell Park
Kilkenny camogs produced a good display to build some much-needed championship momentum with a vital win over Dublin in Parnell Park last Saturday to leave topping the group in their own hands, should they beat Tipperary tomorrow at UPMC Nowlan Park.
Before throw-in, a matter of huge importance was raised by both Dublin and Kilkenny, possibly the start of what players from both codes will hope does not need to be a concerted campaign, should those in power deliver what’s needed.
As the first ladies fixture to kick-off the weekend’s activity, both sides stood shoulder to should for Amhrán na bhFiann before collectively sitting down on the pitch for one minute as a protest to highlight the lack of progress on a player’s charter for items such as medical support and expenses.
Both governing bodies representing camogie and ladies football have been more than behind the ball on this, having been notified by the players as early as April that they would play out the remainder of the 2023 championships ‘under protest’.
Post match one of Dublin’s star players, Aisling Maher said that both teams had lined up together “to show our unity on this issue” and then sat down “as an official protest.”
She said this initial action was designed to “be of minimal disruption to the game and the supporters as possible” but indicated that if their pleas for action are not acted upon by their governing body then player actions could escalate in future.
When the playing action got underway, the sides shared the first 8 points registered, with Aisling O’Neill getting the first score of the game in the opening minute. Denise Gaule (2), and Piltown duo Katie Power and Kellyanne Doyle provided the Noresiders response to Dublin scores from Grace O’Shea (2) and taliswoman Aisling Maher as the sides couldn’t be separated in the opening eight minutes of action.
Brian Dowling’s side then went on a scoring blitz that saw them hit six scores without reply by the 22 minute, including two vital majors. Again, Wingap’s Gaule led the way, hitting a trio of points while last season’s captain, Aoife Prendergast and St Martin’s Katie Nolan raised green flags and the latter also notched a point in this purple patch as the stripeywomen led by ten points on a scoreline of 2-8 to 0-4.
Aisling’s Maher (2) and Gannon got much-needed points for the home side but Gaule and Mullinavat’s Julieann Malone tagged on points to leave the score at the short whistle, Dublin, 0-7, Kilkenny 2-10.
Dublin boss Gerry McQuaid would have undoubtably been disappointed with his charges first half display and would have a demanded a fast start to the second period, but it would be the Noresiders that struck first, and again it would be a major that would break the home side’s hearts in the opening minute and realistically put the result to bed. Multiple All-Star Gaule rifled a 20m free to the Dublin net and increased the visitors lead to 12 points.
Indeed, the home side would only add a further four points to their first-half tally for the remainder of the game as the black and amber clad ladies strolled to victory. Again, Aisling’s were to the fore, with a brace from Maher and one from play by O’Neill, but no goals were forthcoming for the Dubs as they failed to make any in-roads on the visitors lead.
Kilkenny began to make some changes. The first of the afternoon saw Asha McHardy replace Michaela Kenneally with about 12 minutes gone in the second half. Denise Gaule then sent over another placed ball to make it a double score game before the recently introduced McHardy got on the scoresheet with a fine point. Windgap’s Gaule then notched a classy effort from play to further stamp her sides superiority on proceedings.
Jenny Clifford then entered the fray in place of Kellyann Doyle, who had got more much-needed championship minutes in her legs. Gaule split the posts with another placed ball effort with 23 minutes played, with what was to be Kilkenny’s final score of the day, before Barrow Rangers Miriam Bambrick replaced Steffi Fitzgerald with about 7 minutes remaining. The Village’s Sophie O’Dwyer then got on for the last few minutes in place of Katie Nolan before the final score of the game came from the hurl of Aisling Maher from play. Final score in Parnell Park, Dublin 0-11, Kilkenny 3-14.
>> SHERRY SAYS…
Let’s deal with the game first. This was a win that Brian Dowling needed. This was a win that his team needed. After letting the opening round game against Wexford slip from their grasp and only take a share of the spoils from it, the 1st half performance in particular at Parnell Park would have placed the manager no end.
The second half was about controlling matters and not allowing the home side to gain any traction to build a comeback. This was achieved. The scoring burst that saw them hit 2-4 without reply in the first half was key to breaking the Dubs resolve.
Denise Gaule may not be captain, but she led by example and finished the day with an impressive tally of 1-9. The Wingap players accuracy was impeccable and will be required if our senior ladies are to continue their quest to defend the O’Duffy Cup. She had good support from another experienced hand in the form of Katie Nolan.
Defensively the team looked much more stable and harder to break down. Like the taking of scores, preventing them is just as important. This is the platform that is needed to achieve success and Dowling will be hoping that the win in the Capital is just the start for his charges to build on.
We welcome Tipp to UPMC Nowlan Park tomorrow evening. It’s quite simple really. Win and we advance as group winners.
The Big Issue
For too long our female Gaels have been forgotten and left behind. The welfare of this large section of our participating playing pool has been patchy to say the least. Their feelings were made clear earlier this season when they advised of their intention to no longer be the poor relation in terms of player welfare. The governing bodies need to act and soon if they are to avoid bringing further action and protest on themselves.