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Brilliant Dublin reach first semi-final in seven years

Sat 06th Jul

Daragh Ó Conchúir


By Daragh Ó Conchúir, at Croke Park
Dublin 1-13
Kilkenny 0-12
Dublin found another gear in the final quarter to pull clear of Kilkenny and qualify for the semi-finals of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior camogie championship for the first time in seven years and only the second time since 1990.

There was no doubting the merit of the Dubs’ triumph as they created far more via clever movement, lightning speed, support play and ferocious workrate.

While Kilkenny had a 15-minute period of ascendancy in the first half, they could not get the likes of captain, Aoife Prendergast or Aoife Doyle involved sufficiently enough, whereas Dublin had massive contributions from all their key players although in the end, it was a consummate team effort that prevailed.

The game got off to an action-packed start as Prendergast split the posts in the second minute on the turn from 40m.

Dublin skipper Aisling Maher, an All-Star full-forward who was immense playing in the defensive pocket as she has been all season, equalised from a free for the first of her seven points.

When Prendergast slotted her second point from play, the Metropolitans struck for their first goal in the sixth minute.

It was a wonderful piece of opportunism and skill by former Dublin footballer Sinéad Wylde. A free from distance by Maher, who became co-chair of the GPA during the week, broke on the edge of the parallelogram but as Niamh Deely went to pick up the sliotar, Wylde somehow flicked it one handed off her hurley from behind and beyond Aoife Norris on the Kilkenny line.

The Cuala ace was playing with a broken bone in her hand but you would never have known it and she was a constant thorn in the side of the Noresiders, with Aoife McKearney, Kerrie Finnegan and Emma Byrne just three others who  outstanding for the victors.

Doyle and Chloe Gannon, one of three sisters in the Dubs line-up, swapped points but Dublin would go 20 minutes without a score as Kilkenny exerted control with the impressive Caoimhe Keher Murtagh (granddaughter of Kilkenny legend Eddie Keher), Doyle and Prendergast (free) moving them ahead.

Dublin weren’t without chances but Maher shot straight at Norris from a penalty and Grace O’Shea also had an effort stopped by the netminder after great work by Aisling Gannon.

Kilkenny did waste opportunities too but Aisling Gannon finally ended Dublin’s scoring famine to level and Maher lofted over a mighty effort from a free outside the 65 to give the Sky Blues the lead at the interval, 1-5 to 0-7.

That little flurry was undoubtedly crucial in terms of the Dubs’ mentality and a couple of more pointed frees by Maher kept their noses in front but when Doyle cleared the black spot from tight on the right and Prendergast was unerring once more from a placed ball, the sides were level.

At this juncture, you might have been inclined to think that tradition would see the Stripeywomen kick on with doubts perhaps invading the minds of the team trying to make a breakthrough.

So much for history. In the final quarter, it was all about Dublin as their athleticism, pace and desire saw them find another gear. They struck the last four points, with Aisling O’Neill, an All-Star nominee as a Leaving Cert student but making a first appearance after a lengthy absence with a hamstring tendon injury, made a massive contribution when introduced in the 41st minute.

The Castlenock star lofted two points, one after picking Kate Byrne’s pocket and somehow angling the sliotar through the tiniest of gaps but it was Maher who fittingly had the final say with a brilliant score on the run from 50m deep in injury time.

SCORERS FOR DUBLIN: A Maher 0-7(6fs); S Wylde 1-0; A O’Neill 0-2; S Nolan, A McKearney A Gannon, C Gannon 0-1 each

SCORERS FOR KILKENNY: A Pendergast 0-5(3fs); A Doyle 0-3; C Keher Murtagh 0-2; S Fitzgerald, K Power 0-1 each

DUBLIN: A Gorman, A Ryan, E O’Byrne, A McKearney, C Gannon, K Finnegan, Z Couch, S Nolan, N Gannon, A Gannon, E Jamieson-Murphy, A Maher, G O’Shea, E Flanagan, S Wylde. Subs: A O’Neill for Flanagan (41), A Rafter for Nolan (43), L Sharkey for Couch (45), A Kenny for Ryan (60+1), A Heffernan for Jamieson-Murphy (60+3)

KILKENNY: A Norris, M Teehan, G Walsh, K Byrne, N Deely, L Murphy, S O’Keeffe, K Doyle, K Power, S Barcoe,. S Fitzgerald, A Doyle, C Keher Murtagh, A Prendergast, J Malone. Subs: T Fitzgerald for O’Keeffe (ht), M Bambrick for K Doyle (44), L Greene for S Fitzgerald (47), K Nolan for Barcoe (52)

REFEREE: Andy Larkin (Cork)

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