ALL-IRELAND and Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1 champions Kilkenny got their season off to the perfect start with an overwhelming victory over neighbours Tipperary at the MW Hire Training Centre in Kilkenny.
Tipperary, who had gone so close to beating Wexford in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, stood toe-to-toe with their vaunted opponents for the opening 20 minutes but Ann Downey’s charges gradually imposed themselves and when Jenny Clifford found the net just before half time, it opened up a five-point gap, 1-7 to 0-5.
That sucker-punch was augmented by another, in the form of a Michelle Quilty goal soon after the resumption and despite the best efforts of Nicole Walsh, the gap continued to increase. The Noresiders have a powerful forward line and they recorded a couple more goals from Katie Power to secure an emphatic success, with the score finishing 4-13 to 0-8.
Meanwhile, Kilkenny’s victims at Croke Park last September Cork are intent on leaving that disappointment behind them and they came out on top after a stern challenge from Dublin in Mallow on a scoreline of 1-7 to 0-4.
The Metropolitans fought tooth and nail in the opening period and in a real dogged affair, the sides shared six points evenly through the first half.
David Herity’s team gave little away after the resumption either but Cork managed three points, while the visitors were unable to have any impact. It remained very uncomfortable for the Leesiders however, even with Rena Buckley leading the way and it wasn’t until an injury time goal that their supporters could relax with a very positive gloss on the scoreline.
There were wins in Group 2 for Limerick and Galway, with the Munster side having too much firepower for top-tier newcomers Meath and streaking to 0-18 to 0-7 win in Rathkeale. The hosts imposed themselves from the outset and it was clear that John Tuohy had a lot of work done with his side as they streaked to a seven-point interval lead.
Meath have made giant strides in recent years and as they became more in tune with the increased speed and physicality of Division 1 camogie, the improvement was visible. Aoife Minogue and Jane Dolan raised white flags as the Royals got to within six points of the hosts but once again, Niamh Mulcahy contributed massively to the Limerick cause and her 10 points pulled them clear once more.
And finally in Division 1 fare, Galway recovered from a slow start to get the better of Clare by 1-22 to 0-7. The home side shot the first two points in Whitegate courtesy of Zoe McInerney and Regan Conway but Ailish O’Reilly, who finished with nine points including three from play, and Aoife Donohue, who scored five points from play, were on fire as the westerners struck eight consecutive points to lead by six at the change of ends.
Things didn’t get better for the home team in the second half as their neighbours opened up, Noreen Coen and Rebecca Hennelly amongst the scores and despite five pointed frees by Chloe Morey, there was nothing Clare could do to hold Galway at bay and Ciara Murphy found the net in the 58th minute to make it an 18-point game at the final whistle.
Meanwhile, there was a shock in Division 2 as Westmeath got the better of Kildare by 3-6 to 0-9 in St Conleth’s Park Newbridge. Goals were the key for the Lakesiders, as Dinah O’Loughlin grabbed a brace and Louise O’Connor also breached the Lilywhite rearguard to emerge with the honours.
In Division 3, Dublin got the better of Roscommon by 2-10 to 1-5. Kelley Hopkins scored 1-4 for the Rossies but Laoise Quinn registered 1-3 for the Dubs and she had a stronger supporting cast to seal the deal.