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Déise example fits the Bill for Dubs as Cork and Tipp book knockout places

Mon 10th Jun

Daragh Ó Conchúir


By Daragh Ó Conchúir
The priority for the season remains qualification to the quarter-finals of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior camogie championship from Group 2 but manager, Bill McCormack believes that there is scope to aim higher within the Dublin camp, even though they will be planning without midfield dynamo, Gaby Couch for the business end of proceedings.

The Blues are on the brink of a spot in the last six after defeating the team they stunned with an injury-time goal in the Very League Division 1B final, Wexford by 4-13 to 1-10 at Parnell Park.

With Claire Gannon excelling, skipper and former All-Star full-forward, Aisling Maher continuing to flourish in the new quarter-back role she has been designated with this year and goals from Elyse Jamieson, Emma Flanagan, Grace O’Shea and Aisling Gannon, the hosts prevailed in what was a key tie in terms of progression to the last six.

Dublin responded well to the concession of a second minute goal by Chloe Foxe and had a bit of fortune when Anais Curran crashed her 21st minute penalty shot off the crossbar, after the whistle had been blown just before Joanne Dillon had finished to the corner of the net.

No one could argue with the merit of the Metropolitans’ triumph, however and McCormack was understandably satisfied, particularly given the absence of star forward, Aisling O’Neill through injury.

Dublin manager, Bill McCormack (INPHO/James Lawler)

“The performances have improved as the year has gone on, which is encouraging,” said McCormack. “We’ve had a couple of injuries, Ais O’Neill and Laura Sharkey, and it was great to see Laura back on the pitch for the first time after a bad hamstring injury. It’s good to put a performance like that together and we knew that would be required to beat a team like Wexford.

“It’s a challenge we put to the girls. We said, ‘Ais (O’Neill) has done things for us in the past, got us out of holes. Who’s going to step up?’ There was a good spread of scores. Really effective forward line. They were potent and any time the ball went in there we looked like we were dangerous. Goals aren’t something we’ve been managing to get a whole pile of, so to put four on the board was brilliant.

“We pinpointed this game and the Clare game at the start of the year as the two must-win games… To produce the performance against Wexford, that’s what was gonna be needed. They’re more than a fly in the ointment for us. I don’t think there’s ever been more than a puck of the ball between us over the last two or three years so to get a win of that nature was really encouraging for us.

“We said it last year and even after the League. Look at what Waterford did. Why not (us)? There’s girls there have won Ashbourne Cups. There’s girls there that have won Leinster club championships and contested All-Ireland club championship finals.

“So why not? We have the calibre of player there. We just needed to all knit together and at the moment, it’s a camp moving in the right direction.”

The return of Sinéad Wylde after a stint with the ladies’ footballers is another boost and her contribution upon being introduced in the second half was considerable.

“Sinéad came over from the football panel. It’s great to get a player of her calibre and with the strength and fitness that she has. The competition for places is massive.

“Gaby Couch is now gonna be going off for her J1 so there’s a jersey there to be grabbed and the likes of Sinéad will be looking to grab that jersey when it becomes available, and for other ones as well.”

Glen Dimplex Player of the Match, Claire Gannon felt that pointed to the reaction to Foxe’s early major as a sign of the players’ growth.

“In years past we would have put our head down and let it affect it, but Ais Maher, our captain, led us,” Gannon explained. “She said to just keep going. We were against the wind in the first half so we knew if we kept with them and let it go in the second half and that’s what we did in the first ten minutes of the second half, we just absolutely went at them.”

“We’re gonna make sure every team has to fight us to the very end… We’re not in the quarter-final yet. We need to get that one more win so we’ll see what we can do.”

All-Ireland champions Cork have booked their qualification from the same group after a third straight comfortable victory, this time by 2-19 to 1-4 over Clare at Cusack Park.

Amy O’Connor hit 1-5 and Orlaith Cahalane 1-4 as the Leesiders cantered through and for manager Ger Manley, it was a case of job done for the table toppers. Getting Laura Treacy on after a lengthy absence with a hamstring injury, was the cherry on top.

“It was about qualifying,” said Manley. “Once we won today we were qualified for the quarter-final stage with three matches won and that was the target. We started very well I thought. We lost the toss and played with the wind.

“The one thing we will have to improve against the better teams is to take our chances. We created a lot of goal chances and just didn’t take them. Clare worked hard all through the game but we were well on top and the second half was a non-event really.

“We’ve a super half-back line and Laura Treacy came back, is a huge plus. But Aoife Healy, Izzy (O’Regan) and Laura Hayes have been playing outstanding for us and it’s making competition for places. Pam (Mackey) was sick, Gráinne Cahalane came in and did okay.

“We need to get a bit of game time into Laura. You can’t get challenge matches from now on. We’re playing games amongst ourselves but you can’t beat a bit of time on the field so 20 minutes will help her.

“She’s a phenomenal player, one of the best players for the last ten years in camogie. It’s a huge plus to have her back.”

Cork’s clash with Galway will determine who goes directly to the semi-finals as group winners, and the League finalists had an even easier win over relegation-threatened Down at Pearse Stadium, 6-27 to 0-4. Niamh Niland (two), Sabina Rabbitte (two), Ailish O’Reilly and Orlaith McGrath were the goal scorers for Cathal Murray’s squad.

In Group 1, League champions, Tipperary have also booked a return to the last six at least when maintaining their flawless record with a 1-17 to 0-6 defeat of Antrim at The Ragg.

Nine points from Cáit Devane in her first start of the year and a goal four from Grace O’Brien were the highlights for Denis Kelly’s charges and O’Brien made no bones about the desire to earn the automatic semi-final spot as group winners.

“We want to go out and win every game and if you come top of the group, you avoid a quarter-final. Last year, the quarter-finals took a lot out of us. And you’re looking at getting a really good quality team in one of those quarter-finals and then having to go play a semi.

“So please God we’ll go to Limerick and get a win and then hopefully against Kilkenny. It would be a big boost to ourselves to get that time off between the group stages and a semi-final so we’ll be going hell for leather  for that.”

Kilkenny remain unbeaten as a result of their 1-13 to 1-13 draw with last year’s All-Ireland finalists Waterford. Beth Carton shot nine points for the Déise girls while Mairéad O’Brien grabbed the equaliser, having grabbed her fifth goal in three outings just before half-time.

Aoife Doyle goaled for Kilkenny, while Katie Nolan and Miriam Walsh were constant threats and Sarah Barcoe and Sophie O’Dwyer came up with some big scores late on for the Noresiders.

Derry still have a chance of qualifying but it was securing senior status that would have been uppermost in their minds of this season’s newcomers and they did that by virtue of a strong closing period in which they outscored Limerick by 0-8 to 0-0 to win by 0-19 to 0-13 at Owenbeg.

Áine Barton and Aoife Shaw shared ten points between them, while Caoimhe Costelloe had six points for the visitors, who are now in relegation trouble along with Antrim.

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