Kilkenny cemented their place in the semi-final of the Liberty Insurance senior camogie championship with a stunning 2-15 to 2-9 victory over four-in-a-row chasing Wexford at Nowlan Park writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.
The result sees the Noresiders complete the group stages with a 100% record and they can concentrate on their preparations for a last-four bout on August 17, as they have completed their programme, while the remaining eight teams thrash it out for one further semi-final spot and four quarter-final berths.
Victory over Wexford in the Leinster final has been credited with giving Kilkenny belief after a creditable league campaign that ended in a semi-final defeat by the Model County crew.
They got the championship under way by beating Galway and have continued unabated since, with this latest success the most notable.
Niall Williams’ team had to do it the hard way as they conceded a goal to Fiona Kavanagh and went four points down after four minutes.
They responded well though and despite squandering a plethora of chances, were in front at half time by 0-7 to 1-3. Aoife Neary provided four of those points.
Kilkenny continued where they left off in and Shelley Farrell gathered possession from Claire Phelan’s lengthy clearance before rifling a shot to the bottom corner of the Wexford net after 38 minutes to put six between the sides. When either Farrell or Neary got the last touch after a goalmouth scramble for the Cats’ second major, the margin was eight and they were flourishing.
Wexford were without the services of the injured Katrina Parrock for the second week in a row and have lost three defenders to retirement since securing their third consecutive All-Ireland last September, but they retain their stubborn streak.
Ursula Jacob and Josie Dwyer lofted points and Emma Kavanagh was forced into a point-blank save by Brid Gordon at the start of the final quarter.
That was crucial, particularly as Fiona Kavanagh bagged her second goal in the 59th minute. That left four points between the teams but Kilkenny showed impressive resolve with injury-time points from Ann Dalton (free), Neary (45) and Katie Power to register a famous win.
Wexford must now face Clare next week in a do-or-die battle for a place in the quarter-finals, after Galway defeated the Bannerwomen by 3-12 to 1-12 at Cusack Park.
Brenda Hanney gave the westerners the lead with a goal mid-way through the opening half but four points from Claire McMahon and another from Máire McGrath gave the home side the advantage at the change of ends, 0-8 to 1-3.
Ann Marie Hayes struck for another Galway goal straight after the restart but Clare’s riposte was immediate, as Vera Loughnane claimed her first .senior championship major.
The sides exchanged points until Molly Dunne claimed the critical goal in the 51st minute for goal. Emer Haverty pointed immediately afterwards and Galway had sufficient breathing space to assure themselves of a a quarter-final spot.