by Daragh Ó Conchúir
DUBLIN manager David Herity was full of beans after seeing his team get their Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship campaign off to a 3-14 to 3-9 start against Offaly at Parnell Park.
Herity led the Dubs to the last four in 2017 but with All-Star Aisling Maher and brilliant defender Eve Marie Elliott among those unavailable this year, there were question marks surrounding their ability to continue the progress.
Some observers felt the National League campaign might have suggested a regression but Herity offered a convincing rebuttal after Saturday’s win.
“We’re absolutely thrilled” said Herity. “The girls have been playing extremely well in training. We knew Offaly were going to be a difficult match so we’re delighted to get off to a good start.
“Their fitness levels are excellent. The girls were mad hungry for this… They did exactly today what we’ve been training on for the last seven months so please God it’ll keep going well.
“We always expected Offaly to come back at us. They’ve Mick Wall there, a great Kilkenny man, and (Herity’s former Kilkenny hurling teammate) Richie Power is with them now as well and they’re doing excellent work.
“We got two wins and a draw from five games in the League. It was progress again with a young team, a new team again. This victory will bring on the team massively heading into Cork in two weeks.”
Goals from Gráinne Quinn and Siobhán Kehoe gave Dublin a 2-11 to 1-6 lead, with Sarah Harding finding the net for Offaly.
The margin grew to 10 after Róisín Baker goaled but Offaly kept plugging away and a Siobhán Flannery goal from a penalty brought them within touching distance, but they had given themselves too much to do.
In the other Group 2 games, Cork made light work of Wexford, cruising to a 1-17 to 0-7 triumph at Páirc Uí Rinn despite being without the retired Rena Buckley and Orla Cotter, who got married recently.
Ashling Thompson, Orla Cronin, Amy O’Connor and Katrina Mackey enjoyed themselves as the picked off points with ease. Mackey hit a late goal after good work from Thompson and O’Connor to compound Wexford’s agony.
It was easy too for Tipperary, who accounted for newcomers Meath by 6-14 to 0-10 at The Ragg. The long-serving Jane Dolan landed eight points for the Royals but Cáit Devane hit 3-6 for the home team, while Eibhlís McDonald, Casey Hennessy and Megan Ryan also found the net, while dual star Orla O’Dwyer struck five points.
In Group 1, an early goal from Niamh Hannify set Galway up for a 1-16 to 0-9 win over Clare at Pearse Stadium. Freetaker Carrie Dolan kept the scoreboard ticking over and they led 1-8 to 0-5 at the break.
Clare had the elements in their favour after the resumption but with player of the match Niamh Kilkenny outstanding, and finishing with five points, they never looked like reeling their neighbours in.
Kilkenny continued the form that gave them a third National League title in a row, tearing Limerick apart in the second half to win 2-18 to 0-11 in Bruff.
The magnificent Niamh Mulcahy finished with eight points for the hosts and had six of those on the board, including a couple from prodigious distances, as they went 0-7 to 0-3 ahead.
Kilkenny got it back to 8-6 by the interval, thanks to a couple of points from Davina Tobin and Ann Downey’s charges had already established a nice lead by the time Miriam Walsh and Michelle Quilty goaled.