A repeat of the 2009 fixture and in truth, there has been little difference in the build up in this latest installment of Galway and Kilkenny clashes. The Tribeswomen enter the tie as slight favourites determined to return to Croke Park after losing the All Ireland the year previous. Kilkenny, as always are determined to upset the apple cart.
The Cats have enjoyed better fortunes on the field over the last couple of years and due to their excellent underage talent they are once more, emerging as a serious force on the camogie landscape.
Four All Ireland minor crowns between 2006 and 2009 coupled with two Kilkenny schools sharing the last four All Ireland senior colleges’ titles has provided Ann Downey with a wealth of emerging talent. Grace Walsh, Michelle Quilty, Shelly Farrell, Edwina Keane, Aisling Dunphy and Denise Gaule have been regulars on the Kilkenny team this year having come up through the ranks.
Furthermore, coming off the back of a 2-16 to 1-13 victory over Cork in the final round robin game, Ann Downey’s charges look to be hitting form at just the right time.
Michelle Quilty remains their most potent attacker, scoring 5-26 in the championship to date, with 5-16 of that total coming from play.
Aoife Neary, as expected, has also featured prominently in the offensive, tallying 2-19, while Aine Fahey (3-6) and Denise Gaule (0-10) have also showed a key eye for the target.
As for Galway, they boast a clean bill of health ahead of the tie. Noel Finn’s squad, of course, was bolstered earlier in the year by Killimor’s success in the All Ireland club championship. This gave the management an excellent starting point to rebuild the side after last year’s All Ireland final defeat to Wexford and in Ann Marie Hayes, Ann Marie Starr and Brenda Hanney, he could not have asked for three more determined and willing competitors.
Added to this, the positional changes introduced at the beginning of the championship which saw Therese Maher fill the centre half back berth and Sandra Tannian move to centre forward have worked a treat. Probably the most astute switch by the management was the redeployment of Sinead Cahalan from corner to full back. Indeed, Cahalan’s battle with Michelle Quilty should be one of the intriguing sub-plots of the tie.
Already this year the sides have clashed twice, with Galway claiming the spoils on both occasions. In their most recent meeting at Duggan Park Ballinasloe, Galway emerged victorious on a scoreline of 0-12 to 0-9. However, Galway will be mature enough though to realise that this is an entirely different ball game with everything to play for.