by Daragh Ó Conchúir
NOBODY in the Tipperary set-up paid any heed to what was going on in Bruff even though they needed Wexford to account for Limerick to have a chance of reaching the Quarter-Finals of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship.
Manager Brian Boyle had emphasised to his players that they could not control what was going on in the other Group 2 game. They needed to beat Offaly, who were lying in third at the beginning of Saturday’s action, by three points or more to jump ahead of the Faithful women.
Of course if Limerick, who started the day in fourth, could get the better of Wexford, they would snatch the last qualification berth but they were unable to make home advantage pay and so it was Tipp who were the big winners, their first victory of the series seeing them leapfrog over Limerick and Offaly and gaining the prized berth on score difference with the three sides level on points.
It was agonising for Offaly in particular, as they would have advanced had they scored one more point. But it was Tipp that prevailed by virtue of their 3-13 to 2-13 triumph at St Brendan’s Park, Birr.
In Group 1, Kilkenny were far too strong for Dublin and now join Cork in the Semi-Finals but despite that setback, Dublin also made the last six as Galway held off an obdurate Clare unit.
As a result, the Quarter-Finals, which will be televised live from Semple Stadium on RTÉ on Saturday August 5th, will see Galway play Tipperary while Wexford will take on Dublin.
Despite the countless possibilities and potential external distractions, Tipperary remained focussed on their performance.
“We were disappointed that the Championship hadn’t gone the way we wanted it to and (this) was about rectifying that and getting a result” said Boyle. “That’s all we had in our heads.
“We didn’t track any other results. We just wanted to look after ourselves.”
Ciardha Maher scored two goals for the visitors and Orla O’Dwyer another, but Offaly would never back off. Siobhán Flannery (who finished with 1-8) and Tina Hannon with a wonder goal kept Offaly in touch. Orla McEniry saved Michaela Morkan’s second-half penalty however and with Cáit Devane registering five points and Megan Ryan three from play, Tipp did just enough.
Wexford made sure of second place and ended Limerick’s aspirations with a 1-13 to 0-11 win in Bruff.
Youngsters Joanne Dillon and Chloe Foxe gave Wexford an excellent start, with a goal and a point respectively. Foxe finished the half with four points and Úna Leacy had two but Niamh Mulcahy ensured the home side were still competitive, shooting six points to make it 1-8 to 0-8 at the change of ends.
The second half was extremely tight but Limerick were unable to make any impact on the excellent Wexford defence and their season is over.
In Group 1, Galway saw off Limerick by 2-11 to 0-11 at Cusack Park, Ennis. Once more, the home side were driven on by the prodigious shooting of Chloe Morey, who accumulated eight points but Galway had a greater depth of contribution.
Ailish O’Reilly shot seven points and Orlaith McGrath two neat scores from play but the key scores were Rebecca Hennelly’s goal from a first-half penalty and Maria Cooney’s second-half major with Clare having closed to within one point.
Dublin were never in contention against Kilkenny, falling by 3-14 to 0-8 at Tom Ryall Park. Two goals in the space of four minutes from Miriam Walsh and Danielle Morrissey stunned the Metropolitans. Anna Farrell, Denise Gaule, Katie Power and Aisling Dunphy all had points before Walsh claimed her second goal and made it 3-8 to 0-5 at the break, Aisling Maher responsible for all the visitors’ scores.
Kilkenny were content with points after the resumption, Morrissey, Meighan Farrell and Jenny Reddy among the scorers. Dublin just couldn’t break the Noresiders down, though young goalkeeper Faye McCarthy showcased her long-range free-taking abilities once more with two points.