Kilkenny claimed their first national title since 2008 when they proved much too strong for Clare in a disappointingly one-sided Irish Daily Star camogie league Division 1 final at Semple Stadium writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.
This competition provided the Noresiders with their last silverware at senior level and on this evidence, they will make a bold bid for All-Ireland honours later this year, having fallen at the last hurdle last September.
“The league was important to us after the bad ending to last year, to brush that to the side and push on” said a delighted joint-manager, Graham Dillon afterwards.
“We approached each game as it came and ended up in a semi-final. We had a tough game against Wexford and knew today we’d have a job to do. We did that job and we’re happy with that.
The Clare defensive unit was clearly unsettled by the loss of Eimear Considine to injury in the seventh minute, with the Kilmaley player being stretchered off with a knee injury.
Kilkenny had suffered their own misfortune before the throw-in though, with influential full-forward Shelley Farrell unavailable due to an ankle knock. They settled reasonably well though and with the conditions making controlling the sliotar difficult they led by a point (0-2 to 0-1) approaching the end of the opening quarter.
They opened up from there though, with points from player of the match Denise Gaule and a Miriam Walsh brace stretching the margin to four.
Clare’s inexperience showed itself at this juncture, in what was their first ever national final at the highest level, as they began to chase goals rather than take the point-scoring opportunities presented to them. Missing a couple of early frees also betrayed their nerves.
It was no coincidence that their longest-serving operator, Deirdre Murphy presented their chief threat and she scored a lovely point to make it 0-5 to 0-2.
Kilkenny finished strongly though, and points from Gaule (free), Leann Fennelly, Áine Connery and Walsh gave them a seven-point interval lead.
Chloe Morey landed a trademark long distance free immediately after the restart but that would be Clare’s last score until Murphy’s injury-time point.
Instead, with Mairéad Power and Jacqui Frisby completely on top in their full-back line, and Ann Dalton, Gaule and Walsh dominant, Kilkenny exerted themselves.
Gaule brought her tally to six points with four well-taken scores, while Walsh and Fennelly also found the target. Aoife Neary goaled from close range in the 41st minute to cement their superiority and though the likes of Murphy, Kate Lynch and Máire McGrath put up a brave resistance, Clare were never going to deny Kilkenny.
SCORERS FOR KILKENNY: D Gaule 0-6(3fs); M Walsh 0-4; A Neary 1-0; L Fennelly, A Connery 0-2 each; A Dalton 0-1
SCORERS FOR CLARE: D Murphy 0-3(1f); C Morey 0-1(f)
KILKENNY: E Kavanagh, M Power, K McDonald, J Frisby, C Dormer, E Keane, E Aylward, A Dalton, a Dunphy, A Connery, M Walsh, D Gaule, M Quilty, L Fennelly, A Neary. Subs: C Phelan for Connery (51), M Dargan for Walsh (54), A Kinsella for Aylward (59)
CLARE: D Lynch, R McMahon, M McGrath, C O’Leary, N O’Dea, C Morey, E Considine, K Lynch, O Duggan, D Murphy, F Lafferty, C Hennessy, N Kaiser, L McMahon, E Horgan. Subs: K Horgan for Considine inj (7), C McMahon for Hennessy (19), H McMahon for K Horgan (45), V Loughnane for E Horgan (46), K Cahill for Duggan (50), A Griffin for O’Leary (59)
REFEREE: G O’Dowd (Limerick)