Cork showed the advantage of having already played a game in the Irish Daily Star Camogie League as they came on strong in the second half to carve out a 0-9 to 0-5 win over Kilkenny in The Mardyke. The defending champions were having their first outing of the season and it showed.
Having said that, Fintan Deegan’s new charges began well with an Aoife Neary point and though Cotter slotted three frees around a Denise Gaule’s successful placed ball for the visitors, when Megan Farrell and Neary found the target, it was 0-4 to 0-3. And thanks to Cotter’s 28th minute penalty being saved, that’s how it stayed at half time.
It got even better, as Gaule converted a fantastic free from a very tight angle soon after the resumption but Kilkenny didn’t score again as Cork upped the tempo. Katriona Mackey began the flurry of points for the All-Ireland champions and Cotter flashed over a number of frees to bring her tally to seven points and open a gap that was significant in the context of such a tight game.
Davina Tobin was outstanding for Kilkenny but they just couldn’t get any change from the tremendous Cork defence.
Also in Group 2, Dublin continued the Shane O’Brien era with a magnificent win over last year’s League finalists Clare in Clonlara by 1-13 to 1-11.
The Dubs opened their campaign with a home win over Derry but this was a significant step up on that, thanks to the excellence of Ali Twomey, Louise O’Hara, Alison Maguire and goalkeeper, Síle Nic Coitir.
The teams went in at the break on 0-6 apiece, with the only score from play coming from Clare’s Fiona Lafferty. Chloe Morey completed the home team’s tally from frees, while Twomey registered all Dublin’s scores from placed balls.
The defining moment came right at the start of the second half. Dublin won a free at the throw in and O’Hara doubled on Twomey’s delivery spectacularly to send the sliotar to the corner of the Clare net. Dublin defended resolutely thereafter and were five points ahead when Morey goaled from a 25m free on the right in the 59th minute.
In Group 1, goals from Áine Leacy and Jackie Quigley gave Wexford a hard-earned 2-4 to 1-8 win over Offaly. Offaly will rue a missed early penalty, when Siobhan Flannery’s shot was saved by Laura Brennan.
Flannery did finish with seven points but it was the goals from Leacy, in the first half, and most essential, from Quigley six minutes from time that snatched it for the youthful Model County women.
Limerick continued their good start with a 1-14 to 1-7 win over Tipperary. The Mulcahy sisters, Niamh and Judith shone for the Shannonsiders with the former hitting 11 points in blustery conditions.
Niamh Ryan got an early goal for Limerick and Tipperary never could claw their opponents back, despite Cáit Devane's six points. It might have been worse but for Orla McEniry saving a 15th minute penalty.
Tipp did improve in the second half but the goal from substitute Megan Ryan came too late to make any impact on the result.
The returning Susie O'Carroll and Siobhán Hurley illustrated their importance to Kildare once more as they scored 2-7 between them in the Lilywhites' 3-13 to 0-6 defeat of Wexford in Division 2. O'Carroll scored two goals with the third coming from extremely lively youngster, Emer O'Reilly, who also added four points to her personal tally.
Tara Rutledge scored 2-4 as Galway beat Westmeath 4-7 to 0-8, while Beth Carton contributed 1-4 as Waterford overcame neighbours Cork by 1-9 to 1-8.
Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Michelle Holmes, Aisling O'Dea, Niamh Dollard and Olga Parkinson were the goalscorers as Laois came out on top of an entertaining encounter against Antrim 5-8 to 3-6.
A couple of first-half goals, including a clinical finish by Jane Hackett enabled Meath to emerge from Down with a 2-14 to 3-9 success. Cassie Fitzpatrick responded with a goal and Catherine McGourty was unerring from frees, leaving only two points between the teams at the interval.
Meath found another level in the second half and pushed nine points clear. Down fought valiantly in the final 10 minutes and goals from Niamh Mallon and Fionnuala Carr got them within touching distance of a positive result. Time ran out however and it was Meath that took the garlands.