by Daragh Ë Conch·ir
The All Ireland senior camogie championship in association with RT+ Sport got under way with Veronica Curtin rolling back the years by coming off the bench to score 2-2 as Galway beat two-in-a-row chasing Wexford 2-14 to 0-9.
Curtin scored two injury time goals to enable Galway go into a five-point interval lead despite having been on the receiving end of much Wexford pressure. Susan Earner made a couple of stunning saves to deny the All-Ireland champions as well, while the experienced Therese Maher shone at centre-back, with Ann Marie Hayes also instrumental in holding the Model County girls at bay.
Ursula Jacob had all seven of Wexford’s points from frees as they seemed set for a one-point lead at the break, despite having played into a strong wind, but by this stage Galway’s only survivor from the county’s only All-Ireland success in 1995 was on the pitch.
Curtin showed her alertness when touching to the net from close range in the second minute of injury time and there was still time for her dangerous delivery to be deflected for another goal off a Wexford stick.
Kate Kelly scored Wexford’s only point from play early in the second half but it was Galway who had the bit between their teeth, scoring seven successive points including a pair each from Curtin and Aislinn Connolly (who finished with 0-7) to put the game to bed.
As expected, Kilkenny were made to work extremely hard by the 2010 intermediate champions Offaly before winning by 4-17 to 2-11. The final scoreline didn’t do justice to the Faithful women’s efforts as they recovered from an early six-point deficit to draw level and were still just 2-9 to 1-7 in arrears at the interval.
The crucial score of the game arrived just after the interval when Michelle Quilty, who finished with 2-7, goaled to make Offaly’s task very difficult. With Anne Dalton bringing her tally to five points from play and Aoife Neary also amongst the goals, Ann Downey’s charges were able to pull clear.
Offaly can look to the contributions of wing-back Marion Crean and the goal-scoring Michaela Morkan at centre-back and midfield for consolation, while Elaine Dermody slotted seven points from frees and Tina Hannon also goaled to suggest that they will ruffle some feathers in their maiden senior campaign.
Cork were comfortable 3-16 to 0-10 winners over Clare but given that the margin between the sides had been 27 points in the Munster final last month, this performance will come as a massive boost to the Banner girls.
SÝle Burns was the star of the show, scoring 3-4 from play and with Gemma O’Connor a powerful presence at centre-back and Orla Cotter showing that she has returned to her best at midfield after suffering an horrific broken jaw earlier in the year, not even the best efforts of Claire McMahon, Deirdre Murphy and the Lafferty sisters Siobhßn and Fiona could deny the Leesiders.
Tipperary also had to dig deep before coming out on top against Dublin, 3-12 to 0-12, with Sarah Fryday scoring two goals and Noreen Flanagan bagging another in injury time.
The Premiers led by just a point at the change of ends courtesy of Fryday’s first goal and though she bagged a second in the 41st minute, Dublin remained in touch thanks to Louise O’Hara (0-5) and Ciara Burgess (0-3).
Jill Horan was outstanding at midfield for Tipperary though, scoring 0-4 from play and Flanagan struck deep in added time to finally bury the spirited Dubs.