By Daragh Ó Conchúir
It was the perfect day for Cork camogie, as the Leesiders marked the official opening of Cork Camogie Grounds by outgoing president and Rebel native Joan O’Flynn, with victory over old rivals Tipperary in the Irish Daily Star Camogie League.
The entire proceedings were carried out in a blaze of sunshine in Blackrock, with the Division 1 game living up to the momentous occasion. In the end, Cork won by 2-14 to 1-10 and there was never any real doubt that the hosts would prevail.
Katie Buckley goaled and Katrina Mackey was among the point scorers as Cork edged into the lead at half time by 1-5 to 0-4, with the impressive duo, Cáit Devane and Jill Horan popping over some neat scores for Tipperary.
The Premier’s finest were struck a major blow just two minutes into the second half though, when the excellent Mackey pounced for her side’s second goal.
With Anna Geary in stellar form and adding two points to a fantastic exhibition of camogie, Jennifer O’Leary accurate from placed balls and Gemma O’Connor in typically dominant form, there was no way back for Tipperary.
Horan and Devane tried all they knew to keep the blue and gold in touch. Eerena Fryday did breach the Cork defensive resistance for a goal but there was never any likelihood that they would overturn the deficit.
Kilkenny continued their improvement and produced what was probably their best performance of the season but that still wasn’t enough to beat defending champions, Wexford. The Noresiders got very close though, and would have upset the odds had they managed to register more than one point – scored by Katie Power – in the second half.
Kilkenny led by 0-9 to 0-5 at half time, and were full value for that advantage. Aoife Neary scored five points from placed balls as Wexford struggled to cope with their neighbours’ pressure.
Kilkenny still led by four points with 20 minutes remaining but Wexford never panicked. Their experience showed as they gradually clawed themselves back into the tie.
Fiona Kavanagh, Katrina Parrock and Fiona Rochford reduced the margin to the minimum before Parrock converted two late frees – the second in injury time – to put Wexford in front. Elaine Aylward did have an opportunity to equalise but her free from distance was cut out by Claire O’Connor and Wexford prevailed, 0-11 to 0-10.
Clare secured an important victory over Offaly to keep their semi-final hopes alive. The Bannerwomen were worthy winners by 1-15 to 0-9.
They laid the foundation for their success in the first half, when they scored seven unanswered points with the wind at their backs to power into a 1-11 to 0-5 interval lead.
Elaine Dermody was Offaly’s scorer-in-chief from placed balls, but Claire McMahon scored a stunning goal to go with a couple of eye-catching points.
Offaly weren’t able to capitalise on the wind advantage after the resumption and Clare had enough breathing space to ease to a vital win.
In Division 2, Karen Kielt and Gráinne McGoldrick scored 1-14 between them as Derry trounced Waterford 4-21 to 2-6. Galway also secured a comprehensive victory over Wexford, with Deirdre Burke scoring 3-2 in the 3-11 to 0-9 win. The sharp-shooting of Jane Dolan (0-9) helped Meath overcame the concession of two goals to Sara Louise Carr as they marginally came out on top against Down, 0-16 to 2-9.
In Division 3, Fiona Trant pounced for two goals, Róisín O’Connell plundered 1-4 and Susie O’Carroll hit seven points as Kildare eased to a 4-17 to 1-6 defeat of Roscommon at Ballykelly. In Division 4, Carlow beat Dublin by 0-8 to 1-3.