by Cian Nelson
There will be a new name on the O’Duffy Cup in 2019 as Galway and Kilkenny contest the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Final on Sunday September 8th.
These sides are very familiar with one another having met twice so far this year. Galway set their stall out for the season when they triumphed over the Cats in Croke Park in the National League Division 1 Final in March. It was an impressive display by the Tribeswomen that firmly established their title credentials and shook the Cork-Kilkenny axis that had dominated both League and Championship in recent years.
Kilkenny gained revenge on the opening weekend of this year’s Championship when they won out in Athenry to set them up to top the group and book a Semi-Final place. They eventually finished the group stage in dominant fashion with a 100% record. The Cats were then given a fright by Tipperary in the Semi-Final and having trailed for much of the first-half, their experience eventually tolled, coupled with some impressive individual displays which saw them run out six-point winners and book their place in a third consecutive Final.
Having finished second in the group stage Galway then won their remaining three group stage matches after their opening weekend defeat to the Cats. In the Quarter-Final they were made to stage a second-half comeback against Waterford in a stern test of their credentials in terms of both their ability and mental fortitude. The Tribeswomen then sensationally beat the back-to-back All-Ireland champions Cork in a pulsating Semi-Final match. They lead for most of the match and again proved their mettle by seeing the match out despite Cork closing the gap to just a single point.
There is no denying that these two teams are deserving of their Final places given their form in 2019 as evidenced by their League Final meeting in March and having battled their way through a particularly competitive Championship campaign this summer. Both sides have a blend of proven All-Ireland winners supported by a new crop of younger players who have stepped up to the plate this year.
Kilkenny are aiming for a fourteenth Senior All-Ireland title and their first since 2016. Furthermore, they will be looking to put behind them the agony of back-to-back one-point Final defeats in the last two years. Galway are seeking just their third All-Ireland title and their first since 2013. Much of this panel also suffered Final defeat when they last reached this stage in 2015.
In what will be a unique day for Galway, the Tribeswomen also go in pursuit of All-Ireland Intermediate honours. Galway are unbeaten in this year’s Championship with just a draw in the group stage the only blemish on their record. They were impressive winners over Tipperary to seal their Croke Park date.
Westmeath are playing in their first Final at this level with the added incentive of promotion to Senior Camogie at stake should they claim All-Ireland glory. Westmeath’s only dropped points of this year's campaign came at the hands of Galway when the sides met in the group stage. A hard-fought Semi-Final victory over last year’s defeated finalists Down booked their place in the Final. Much of their side will be comfortable in the surroundings of Croke Park having been part of the Premier Junior side that won here in 2017. Galway meanwhile are aiming for their first title at this level since 2013 and to set their county up for a potential Senior-Intermediate double as they also achieved in 2013.
Kerry and Limerick line out in the Premier Junior Final, with the Kingdom hoping to banish their painful Final defeat to Dublin 12 months ago. Kerry have a 100% record in this year’s Championship and beat Limerick by three points when the sides met on the opening weekend of the Championship en route to topping the group. They then accounted for Clare in impressive fashion to make it a quick return to Jones’ Road. Limerick are playing in their first Premier Junior Final since they won the title in 1995 and having claimed two group stage victories, they then produced an impressive display to beat Roscommon in the Semi-Final.
The scene is all set for the big day and if the nail-biting Finals of the last few years are anything to go by then we are in for another day of thrills on September 8th!
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Championships Finals
Sunday September 8th
Galway v Kilkenny
Galway v Westmeath
Premier Junior Final
Kerry v Limerick
Ticket Prices & Information
Adults: €30 on matchday
€25 if purchased in advance of matchday
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Under 16s: €5
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