Last year’s beaten finalists Cork proved far too good for Munster rivals Tipperary in the first game of an entertaining double bill, played out in front of some 4,000 spectators.
The Rebelettes ran out 3-14 to 0-10 winners against the Premier County and will start as favourites against Galway in what will be a repeat of the 1998 decider.
The Tribeswomen last reached the final ten years ago but they will provide stiff opposition for Cork after digging deep to secure a dramatic 1-13 to 1-10 victory against last year’s winners Wexford.
Jessica Gill scored a sensational winning goal for Galway, with almost four minutes of stoppage-time played.
The Athenry star took her championship tally to an incredible 6-40 with her dramatic match-winner, just as Wexford looked to have salvaged a replay after coming from four points down to draw level in the closing stages.
With three minutes of normal time remaining, Wexford trailed by four points but the Slaneysiders showed true grit as Una Leacy bagged a 58th-minute goal before Kate Kelly’s ninth point of a gripping encounter tied the scores at 1-10 to 0-13.
A draw looked a certainty but there was a late, late twist in store as Wexford had appeals for a free at the other end waved away before Gill’s late strike.
The sides were level at half-time, 0-05 apiece, but Galway looked the livelier side from open play as Wexford were heavily reliant on the free-taking prowess of Kelly.
The Model County managed just 1-02 from play during the entire game as Kelly drilled over eight of her nine points from frees, whereas six Galway players were on target from play.
In the afternoon’s opening game, Cork overturned a 0-07 to 0-05 half-time deficit as second half goals from Rachel Moloney, Una O’Donoghue and substitute Elaine O’Riordan helped to secure a comfortable 13-point victory.
Both goalkeepers, Cork’s Aoife Murray and Tipp’s Paula Ryan, made some good saves throughout but after the sides were level at 0-08 apiece 12 minutes after half-time, the winners soon embarked on a devastating scoring burst.
Moloney scored a superb overhead goal in the 43rd minute, O’Donoghue bombed through for a superb solo effort just three minutes later and O’Riordan touched home the impressive Orla Cotter’s lengthy delivery for Cork’s third goal in stoppage-time.
Moloney was Cork’s leading player with a 1-07 haul on a day when eight players registered scores from play.
All Star Claire Grogan was Tipp’s top scorer with five points, including three from play, but John McGrath’s charges struggled to live with the pace of Cork’s play.