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Four tied on top as Tipp blow Very League wide open

Sat 09th Mar

Daragh Ó Conchúir

County, Latest

Division 1A of the Very Camogie League is headed for a pulsating conclusion, with weekend results leaving four teams level at the top separated only by score difference with two rounds remaining.

A late goal by Eimear McGrath snatched a stunning 2-10 to 1-10 victory for Tipperary over All-Ireland champions Cork, to ensure that five of the six teams participating still have a chance of making the Division 1A final of the Very Camogie League with two rounds remaining.

Waterford bounced back from losing to Cork a fortnight ago by accounting for Clare by 2-16 to 0-8 at Fraher Field and as a result are +14 on score difference.

That is two points more than Galway, who also responded to defeat in round 2 with victory, by 2-12 to 1-9 over Kilkenny in Loughrea.

It was Tipperary that gave Cathal Murray’s unit a bloody nose and they were at it again, inflicting a first defeat of the campaign on Cork in a dramatic encounter at Páirc Uí Rinn by 2-10 to 1-10.

Remarkably, that puts the Leesiders, who went into this round top of the table, down in fourth, with a score difference of +1, which is two points less than their conquerors.

Two late goals, from Eimear McGrath and Niamh Treacy, stunned Cork, who were heavily reliant on Amy O’Connor, as top scorer with 1-6. Ger Manley’s crew wasted countless chances that they will regret, totting up ten wides compared to Tipp’s four.

It was an impressive effort from the Premier however, who have bounced back well from an opening round defeat to Waterford with two major scalps. They led by 0-6 to 0-3 at the end of a first half in which defences dominated but disaster struck two minutes after the restart when goalie Nicole Walsh fumbled O’Connor’s attempt at a point just over her line.

And for most of the game, it looked as if that might be enough, only for the Cork to make their own mistake when attempting to come out of defence with a hand-pass that wasn’t gathered. Tipp won the dirty ball and McGrath, who scored 3-7 in the defeat of Galway, drilled to the net on the half-hour.

Tipp led by a point when Karen Kennedy had her shot saved by Molly Lynch in the fifth minute of injury time and fellow sub, Niamh Treacy was on hand to finish the rebound to the net.

A young Clare side were competitive in the first half against Waterford, and even when Mairead O’Brien flicked astutely to the net after six minutes, they consolidated thanks to points from Caoimhe Cahill and Róisín Begley.

It might have been even better but for Déise netminder Brianna O’Regan repeating her habitual penalty-saving heroics, this time from O’Loughlin.

It was 1-4 to 0-4 at the change of ends but Waterford opened up thereafter, Beth Carton, Bevin Bowdren and Tara Power hitting points while Niamh Rockett’s goal in the 40th minute ended any prospect of a comeback from a Clare unit still propping up the table.

Galway and Kilkenny were inseparable at the end of a cagey first half, going into the sheds at 0-4 each, but a scoring blitz that yielded a goal and five points without reply decided the contest.

The home side had a three-point lead already when Aoife Donohue notched up her side’s goal and further points from Siobhán McGrath and Niamh McPeake opened the margin to eight.

Kilkenny responded with three points of their own, two from Asha McHardy, but Galway were able to keep it tight and not give up the major the Cats needed to see it out.

Kilkenny are not out of contention on three points despite the loss but cannot be complacent about the threat of relegation either, meaning it is all to play for with rounds 4 and 5 to come on March 23 and 30.

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