All-Ireland senior final in association with RT+ Sport
Preview by Daragh O’Conchuir
Galway v Wexford
Croke Park, 4pm
Referee: Mike O’Kelly
This is the keenest rivalry in camogie. Wexford have cemented themselves as the sport’s premier brand and chase the league and championship double for a second successive season. Galway have developed a reputation as perennial under-achievers, losing four All-Irelands since their only success in 1996 and giving best to Wexford in both last year’s All-Ireland and this term’s league deciders.
Veronica Curtin is the only surviving member of that history-making Galway panel 15 years ago. Therese Maher arrived on the scene the following season. If the Connacht side is to prevail, these two will almost certainly play significant roles.
Galway beat Wexford in the opening round of the current championship but that will mean nothing on Sunday. The champions seem to have timed their run to perfection, having not really fired in the group stages.
They impressed in accounting for a resurgent Cork by five points in the semi-final and their ability to get goals, allied with their physicality, is what has separated them from the rest when it counts.
Their pedigree is without question. Mags D’Arcy, Catherine O’Loughlin, Mary and Una Leacy, Kate Kelly and Katrina Parrock are just some of their stars who have proven themselves on the big occasion, time and time again. Having done the double last year, and in the process proven that the 2007 All-Ireland success was no flash in the pan, they are desperate to repeat the trick this season.
The Galway team has been revamped considerably by Noel Finn during the championship. Maher, who missed the league, has prospered in a new position at centre-back, while Ann Marie Hayes seems happier on the wing. Niamh Kilkenny is revelling in the greater freedom of midfield where she destroyed the county of her surname in the penultimate round, while Brenda Hanney gives them a serious threat at full-forward, especially with the experienced Curtin in the corner.
Galway were well worth the six-point margin of victory over the Noresiders, having shot 10 wides and also squandered a couple of gilt-edged goal chances. They key for them is to start well and be clinical, particularly when the goal opportunities arrive.
Wexford have so much experience and know that they can win on final day but Galway are driven by the pain of so many defeats and so much heartbreak.
Killimor’s All-Ireland club final success might have demystified Croke Park for the westerners and they look to have a better balance now than last year. This just might be their time.