League champions Galway were the big winners as the Liberty Insurance senior camogie championship got under way with two games in the ultra-competitive Group 1 and one tie from Group 2.
Tony Ward’s crew repeated their victory over Cork last month but left it very late as they scored the last four points to snatch a 1-11 to 0-12 win at O’Connor Park.
This was a completely different type of game to the one in Semple Stadium in that both sets of defences were on top in a cagey affair. Cork started a little nervously and conceded a ninth minute goal to Molly Dunne, as the full-forward flicked brilliantly to the net while kneeling on the deck.
Cork found it easier to score from play with the wind and points from Orla Cronin, inspirational skipper Ashling Thompson, Briege Corkery and Katriona Mackey brought them level at half time, 0-8 to 1-5.
Cork would have been ahead but for a couple of blinding saves by Susan Earner – one to deny Amy O’Connor what would have been a goal-of-the-season contender – but it looked as if they might take the honours as O’Connor, Cotter, Cronin and Thompson edged them ahead.
Cork didn’t score for the last 13 minutes though. Niamh McGrath slotted two frees before Niamh Kilkenny brought the teams level with a super point over her shoulder to edge Galway ahead. McGrath slotted her eighth point from a placed ball and time ran out on Cork as they chased a match-winning goal.
Limerick marked their return to the senior championship with a 1-12 to 1-8 win over Offaly in Newcastle West. The visitors had the better of the opening half however, and a one-point lead was scant reflection of their superiority.
Joe Quaid introduced Caoimhe Costelloe and she had a big impact, while Aoife Sheehan was also prominent. Niamh Mulcahy was deadly accurate from placed balls, scoring all bar one point of Limerick’s total, and when her free from 80m dropped into the Offaly net, Limerick went five clear.
A Costelloe point made it six but Arlene Watkins responded with a spectacular goal to leave them with an edgy conclusion before Limerick saw it out.
Kilkenny got their Group 2 campaign off to a good start with a 3-13 to 1-10 win over Dublin at Parnell Park. Denise Gaule, Katie Farrell and Michelle Quilty helped the Noresiders push ahead before Ali Maguire opened the scoring for Dublin. Gaule, who scored 1-7 from frees, got her goal when an 80m free went all the way to the Dublin net and as Colette Dormer denied Louise O’Hara at the other end, it was 1-6 to 0-4 at the change of ends.
Quilty latched onto a breaking ball to goal after a Gaule free was saved soon after the resumption and though Siobhan Kehoe blasted to the net after gaining possession 50m out and cutting through the Kilkenny defence, Miriam Walsh hand-passed to the Dublin net in the 40th minute and held the upper hand from there to the end.