Senior camogs devastated after 1 point defeat
BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
SHERRY SAYS CAMOGIE REVIEW…
Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship
Semi-final, Croke Park
Brian Dowling’s team exited this year’s Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship by the narrowest of margins when they went down fighting against old foes Cork at Croke Park last Sunday. It was roles reversed in last weekend’s quarter-final tie, after Kilkenny had beaten the Rebels in last season’s final.
Cork looked to be heading to a comfortable win until Player of the Match Denise Gaule dragged her side back into the contest with a well-taken goal on 58 minutes. The Windgap wonder followed this up with a point less than 60 seconds later and take her personal tally to 1-10, to leave just the bare minimum between the sides, but that was to be the last score of the game, despite both teams having strong claims for fouls late on, but inexplicably, referee John Dermody waved both sides protests away.
The Noresiders made one change to the selected team, with Aoife Doyle starting ahead of Michelle Teehan. When play got under way, Cork struck an early wide in the opening seconds and the first score of the game came shortly after, when Denise Gaule slotted a free after Michaela Kenneally was fouled. The next score came from the stripey women also, St Martins Katie Nolan’s pinpoint pass to Aoife Doyle was superbly dispatched by the Piltown attacker.
Referee Dermody then showed an early yellow card to Steffi Fitzgerald, claiming she led with her shoulder as she tried to get past her opponent. Former Down star, Sorcha McCartan got the Leesiders up and running with a fine brace of points, while Denise Gaule popped over a placed ball after Aoife Prendergast was halted illegally. Multiple All-Star Gaule, then turned provider as her accurate pass saw Mullinavat’s Julieann Malone split the posts to give Kilkenny a two-point lead.
The first major of the day came on 14 minutes, and it would be the black and amber that got it. Lisdowney’s Claire Phelan sent a long-range free deep into the Cork Defence. Denise Gaule rose high with a couple of Rebel defenders, and the ball broke to the alert Aoife Prendergast who side-stepped the defender before batting the sliotar past Amy Lee in the Cork goal. Dowling’s charges were now 5 clear.
Chloe Sigerson got a much-needed score for Matthew Twomey’s side from a placed ball before their top scorer, Amy O’Connor struck for a major. A pass sent in from midfield saw the St Vincent’s attacker take possession and turn and burn her marker Steffi Fitzgerald. O’Connor had only one thing on her mind, and she rifled a well-struck shot beyond netminder Aoife Norris. Twenty minutes gone, all square.
Killeagh’s Hannah Looney, starting in place of Cliona Healy then sent over a lovely point to give the Rebels the lead, but the deadly Gaule fired over a placed ball to restore parity a minute later. The next 3 scores came from the Leesiders, two points from the evergreen Katrina Mackey and a ‘45 from Amy O’Connor after Aoife Norris had done brilliantly to prevent a certain goal. Sandwiched between this trio of points was a nasty arm injury to Kilkenny’s Laura Murphy. The game was held up while the O’Loughlin Gaels players received attention and this injury would force her withdrawal from the clash and see Michelle Teehan take her place. The Noresiders hit 3 consecutive wide’s before who else, but Denise Gaule got them going ahead with another fine placed ball effort. Westmeath whistler Dermody blew for half-time with Cork leading by two points, 1-8 to Kilkenny’s 1-6.
When play resumed, Denise Gaule fired over a ‘45 to leave just one between the sides, but the next score would see another green flag raised for Matthew Twomey’s side. Saoirse McCarthy picked up the ball around midfield and showed a great turn of pace to get away from her trailing black and amber opponents. McCarthy struck her effort towards goal, but it was excellently blocked by Aoife Norris. The ball rebounded straight to McCarthy who was challenged heavily by Grace Walsh. The Courcey Rovers player managed to play a pass to Katrina Mackey who struck the ball under the unlucky Norris in the Kilkenny goal. The Rebels built on this major when Amy O’Connor fired over a free to make it a 5-point Cork lead.
The Stripey women needed a score and Piltown’s Aoife Doyle got her second score of the day on 37 minutes. Cork’s hard-running style was causing huge problems for Brian Dowling’s team. Netminder Aoife Norris was called into action again to deny Katrina Mackey a second goal with a brave block. Denise Gaule then went on a 3-point scoring burst, including two fine efforts from play to narrow the ladies in red’s lead to just one point by the 45th minute.
Aghabullogue’s Cliona Healy then struck over a nice point to settle the Cork supporters’ nerves as Kilkenny made a change with Sophie O’Dwyer replacing Katie Nolan, the latter who had been starved of any quality ball before departing. Amy O’Connor and Densie Gaule swapped scores, the latter in particular, a stunning effort from halfway. Cliona Healy then struck her second point of the game, one which should have been ruled out following Aisling Thompson’s clear obstruction on Katie Power.
St Vincents O’Connor then beat Tiffanie Fitzgerald for pace and fired over a nice point to push the Cork lead to four. This would soon be five as the deadly O’Connor was fouled and converted the resulting free. The Leesiders were looking fitter, faster, stronger. Kilkenny needed an urgent spark, and it came in the form of a goal from Denise Gaule.
Katie Power picked up the ball and headed for goal. The Piltown player advanced and did brilliantly to pick out Gaule who cleverly had pulled into space on Power’s left. The Windgap player stepped inside her first defender, then slipped between two others, before batting the ball past Amy Lee. The gap was down to two points in the 58th minute. Determined to try and force extra time, Gaule then took a superb catch before being fouled. Calmly, she dispatched the free between the Cork posts. Just one more point needed.
Cork went on the attack to try and put matters beyond the black and amber. It looked like Amy O’Connor was about to bat the ball into the Kilkenny net, but goalkeeper Aoife Norris tested the quality of the nippy forward’s jersey as she hit the ground. The sliotar rolled towards the net, but the Noresiders scrambled the danger away. We were all waiting for Dermody’s whistle to signal penalty but play continued. As the stripey women went in search of an equalising score, Steffi Fitzgerald got caught in two minds and was blown up for over carrying, small margins.
There was still time for one more opportunity. Katie Power picked up the ball and surged forward. It looked to everyone that Katie was being fouled, but perhaps to make up for the previous decision, John Dermody saw no reason to award a free. With that decision went the chance to draw level. The long whistle sounded; Kilkenny’s reign as All-Ireland champions was over; Cork would advance to a semi-final meeting with Galway. Final score, Cork 2-14, Kilkenny 2-13.
Scorers for Cork: A O’Connor (1-6, 0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘45); K Mackey (1-2); S McCartan, C Healy (0-2 each); C Sigerson (free), H Looney (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilkenny: D Gaule (1-10, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ‘45); A Prendergast (1-0); A Doyle (0-2); J Malone (0-1).
CORK: A Lee; P Mackey, L Coppinger, M Murphy; M Cahalane, L Tracey, I O’Regan; H Looney, A Healy; C Sigerson, F Keating, S McCarthy; A O’Connor, S McCartan, K Mackey.
Subs: C Healy for Sigerson (36); O Cronin for McCartan (42); A Thompson for Looney (44); L Hayes for O’Regan (58).
KILKENNY: A Norris; G Walsh, C Phelan, S Fitzgerald; L Murphy, N Deely, T Fitzgerald; K Power, K Doyle; J Malone, A Doyle, M Kenneally; K Nolan, D Gaule, A Prendergast.
Subs: M Teehan for Murphy (32); S O’Dwyer for K Nolan (46); A McHardy for Prendergast (50); J Clifford for Kenneally (62).
Referee: J Dermody (Westmeath).