Kilkenny will appear in the Liberty Insurance senior camogie final for the first time since 2009 as a result of an extremely hard-fought win over league champions Cork writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.
Despite the minimal margin of difference, the Noresiders were deserving winners of a wonderful free-flowing game superbly refereed by Owen Elliott, having dominated the possession stakes for the majority of proceedings.
Despite that, they had to dig very deep to overcome the concession of two goals inside the opening eight minutes, as well a period in the second half when they conceded five points in succession to fall behind once more.
They also managed only one point from two first-half penalties, and that came after 30 seconds when Aoife Neary opted to take the safe option.
That didn’t look too clever when goal machine Katrina Mackey found the Kilkenny net 92 seconds later after brilliant play by Angela Walsh, whose direct run after Aisling Thompson’s intelligent delivery drew the Kilkenny cover.
The magnificent Katie Power and Aoife Neary (free) responded with points for the Black and Amber but Mackey’s pace caused more problems and she set up Julia White for another goal.
The Cats continued to dominate possession though and player of the match, Power goaled in the 23rd minute to send them in at the break leading by 1-7 to2-3.
They wasted a number of chances to go in with a bigger advantage, however. Aoife Murray made a brilliant save from Denise Gaule, while Rena Buckley stopped Neary’s 19th minute penalty – which like the first one, was awarded for a foul on Shelly Farrell.
Two early points from Aisling Dunphy and Power increased the margin to three but with Orla Cotter and White supplying four of Cork’s next five scores, it was the Leesiders that were looking good entering the final quarter.
That was a testament to the resolve of Paudie Murray’s squad as a number of his key players never got into the game.
The momentum changed once more though as Aoife Neary goaled with a glorious overhead pull on Ann Dalton’s free 10 minutes from time.
Cotter slotted her third second-half point to level the scores but was immediately substituted, with Gemma O’Connor – home on a three-week break from an Army tour of duty– entering the fray in the 53rd minute.
It was Kilkenny that held the upper hand though, with Power and captain Michelle Quilty putting two points between them.
Walsh latched onto an O’Connor delivery to leave one between them but Power brought her own tally to 1-6 from play on the hour.
Cork threw everything at them in the two minutes of injury time but Thompson’s fizzing shot flew just over the bar and time ran out.
Scorers – Kilkenny: K Power 1-6; A Neary 1-3 (0-2fs); G Walsh, A Dunphy, D Gaule 0-1 each
Cork: J White 1-2; K Mackey 1-1; O Cotter 0-3; A Walsh 0-2; J O’Leary, A Thompson, B Corkery 0-1 each
Kilkenny: E Kavanagh, M Power, K McDonald, J Frisby, L Fennelly, E Keane, E Aylward, C Phelan, A Dalton, G Walsh, A Dunphy, K Power, S Farrell, D Gaule, A Neary. Sub: M Quilty for Walsh (ht); C Dormer for Phelan (51); K Hamilton for Gaule (51)
Cork: A Murray, J O’Callaghan, M Walsh, P Mackey, D Cronin, R Buckley, A Geary, O Cotter, B Corkery, E O’Sullivan, A Walsh, A Thompson, J White, K Mackey, J O’Leary. Sub: S Burns for O’Sullivan (35); G O’Connor for Cotter (53); F Neville for Corkery (57)
Referee: O Elliott (Antrim)