By Martin Quilty
Bigger challenges ahead for Dowling’s ladies
Leinster Senior Camogie Championship Final
Kilkenny made four titles in a row after an emphatic five goal victory over Dublin in MWH O’Moore Park Portlaoise on Saturday last.
Kilkenny are starting to get a ruthless streak to their play as they dispatched Dublin with ease on Saturday last as the stripey women travelled to Portlaoise to take on the Dubs in the Senior Leinster final. It was another piece of history for Leinster Camogie as the game was part of a double header with the Leinster GAA hurling championship game Laois v Galway. Efforts had been made during the week to have it as a double header in Parnell Park in Dublin but due to dressing room challenges and SKY Sports broadcasting the Kilkenny hurling game v Dublin, this wasn’t possible.
It was a glorious sunny day in the midlands and Kilkenny got off to the perfect start when their team captain scored two points from play to leave Kilkenny 0-2 to 0-1 ahead after five minutes. Aisling Maher levelled the scores by the 6th minute but then Kilkenny took over scoring 2-3 without reply. Aoife Doyle and Miriam Walsh started the spree with points from play before Kilkenny opened the Dublin defence to get their first goal. A long pass in from Denise Gaule saw Mary O’Connell latch onto the breaking ball before laying off a lovely timed handpass to Aoife Doyle who was running off the shoulder to rattle the Dublin net, the provider then turned scorer when Mary got herself a point from play soon after.
Kilkenny second goal came in the second quarter of the game, a long clearance from Claire Phelan went straight to the hand of Julieann Malone whose shot was batted out by Eabha Mooney and Miriam Walsh was onto it like a flash before rounding the defender to slot home a poacher’s goal. Kilkenny now led 2-5 to 0-3 with 17 minutes on the clock. Katie Nolan and Mary O’Connell both added to the stripey women’s total before Dublin got two points Niamh Gannon and Aisling O’Neill scoring from play to leave eight points between the teams by the 27th minute.
Kilkenny struck a sucker blow just before half time, Katie Power received a scoop pass from Denise Gaule and right on the half way line let rip looking to get a point, Mary O’Connell was waiting to pounce if the ball dropped short, the goalie and full back came to gather the ball but Katie’s shot sailed right over them all to the back of the net, it was a piece of fortune but it was a goal Kilkenny deserved for their dominance. Aisling Maher added a point from a free for Dublin to leave the half time score Kilkenny 3-7, Dublin 0-6. Kilkenny were dominant in every position during that first half and out of their 3-7 tally all scores had come from play. It was a fantastic performance, and they could have had a few more scores on the board but overall, it was a great team performance.
Dublin needed a good start to the second half they got that with a free from Aisling Maher within three minutes of the restart. However, Kilkenny then went on another scoring spree, Aoife Doyle started it off when she got Kilkenny’s 4th goal of the afternoon, a ball across the 20m line from Aoife Prendergast saw Miriam Walsh fight for possession, she won it and gave a pass to Niamh Deely, the village player was under pressure from three defenders but somehow managed to get a pass out to Aoife Doyle who again shot past Eabha Mooney, it was almost a carbon copy of her first half goal when she came off the shoulder and rattled the net on both occasions.
Katie Nolan quickly followed up with a point before a sloppy puckout from Nolan’s score saw Katie Power pick up the loose pass, hand pass to Julieann Malone who shot over the crossbar and punish the Dublin mistake Kilkenny now led 4-9 to 0-7 in the 36th minute. Forty seconds later Kilkenny were in for their 5th goal, Julieann Malone started it off with a grubber pass along the ground into the forwards, Mir Walsh flicked the ball to Mary O’Connell who got the ball into her hand before returning the pass to Walsh who shot under Eabha Mooney’s legs to put Kilkenny in the driving seat and on the way to victory there was only seven minutes on the lock when Kilkenny led 5-9 to 0-7.
Dublin had tried throughout the game to keep up with Kilkenny, it was 35 years since they were last in a Senior Leinster final, and they didn’t want to take a massive beating from the kittens. Niamh Gannon and Aisling O’Neill were instrumental through the game and really tried hard. O Neill got a point for the Dubs on 51 minutes before Gannon got her reward for her hard work with a point of her own.
The Dubs were battling hard but Kilkenny’s tackling and tenacious play never allowed them too much time on the ball. The score of the game came on 53 minutes. Julieann Malone caught Aoife Norris’s puckout brilliantly, she passed the ball to Spud Crowley who took a hit from Hannah Hegarty which left spud on the ground, three Dubs came in to take the ball off her and while she was on her knees, she masterfully struck the ball over the bar. It was a score of beauty, if it was a male hurler had done it, they’d be talking about it for weeks, it was magnificent. Dublin rallied for the last 10 minutes of the game and got three points on the board. Aisling O’Neill, Aoife Walsh, and Gaby Couch all contributing on the day. Final score Kilkenny 5-11, Dublin 0-12
It was an empathic victory, and it was a Kilkenny’s second powerful performance as for the Championship opener against Down on Saturday. Brian Dowling was happy with the performance especially the first half, he said the second half lost its momentum as there was lots of stoppages with subs and injuries. He was delighted he could have the luxury of resting some players and giving other players game time as he prepares for this weekend.
Kilkenny: Miriam Walsh 2-02, Aoife Doyle 2-01, Katie Nolan 0-03 (1f), Katie Power 1-00, Aoife Prendergast 0-02, Mary O’Connell/Julieann Malone/Sarah Crowley 0-01 each
Dublin: Aisling Maher 0-04 (4f), Aisling O’Neill 0-04 (1f), Niamh Gannon 0-02, Gaby Couch/Aoife Walsh 0-01 each
Kilkenny: Aoife Norris, Michelle Teehan, Claire Phelan, Tiffanie Fitzgerald, Grace Walsh, Niamh Deely, Steffi Fitzgerald, Aoife Doyle, Aoife Prendergast, Denise Gaule, Katie Power, Mary O’Connell, Katie Nolan, Miriam Walsh, Julieann Malone
Subs: Ciara Phelan for Grace Walsh, Miriam Bambrick for Mary O’Connell, Laura Norris for Katie Nolan, Sarah Crowley for Katie Power, Laura Murphy for Tiffanie Fitzgerald
Dublin: Eabha Mooney, Christine Shanahan, Eve O’Brien, Muireann Kelleher, Roisin Baker, Hannah Hegarty, Emma O’Byrne, Emma Flanagan, Gaby Couch, Aisling Maher, Niamh Gannon, Jody Couch, Ali Twomey, Aisling O’Neill, Aisling Gannon
Subs: Leah Butler for Christine Shanahan, Orla Gray for Aisling Maher, Elyse Jameison Murphy for Aisling Gannon, Claire Gannon for Emma Flanagan, Aoife Walsh for Ali Twomey
Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)