by Daragh Ó Conchúir
CHAMPIONS Kilkenny got their Double Double bid under way with a smooth success over Waterford at Walsh Park but perhaps the most notable result of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship’s opening weekend was Offaly’s narrow defeat of Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds.
Paddy Kirwan hailed his side’s character in fashioning the 2-18 to 3-14 win, having lost a one-point game at the beginning of the month in the Leinster Final.
That was against the All-Ireland titleholders however and they carried that form through in getting the better of a Limerick side that had high hopes themselves having reached the League semi-finals and secured an historic Munster Final win over Cork.
The Offaly manager bemoaned an absence of ruthlessness that might have seen the gutsy Shannonsiders off earlier but is now looking forward to a potentially exciting campaign.
“That win was probably priceless and to be asked every question under the sun” said Kirwan on Midlands 103. “After being caught by a point the last day, that had to happen.
“The first half we did some great camogie but then we overcomplicated it. I said that to them at half time, we brought them back into the game by doing stupid things. We had to win the game three or four times and nearly lost it.”
“The character was questioned there today and I questioned it at half time, I won’t deny it but they showed a great bit of gumption in fairness.
“If we lost it there I don’t’ know where we’d turn. Wexford next in a fortnight and after beating them in Leinster they’ll be mad keen for us. It’ll be another battle but we’ll look forward to it.”
Dearbhla Egan gave the home side the perfect start with a goal but Offaly responded with eight consecutive points. Limerick had further goals from Aisling Scanlon and Mairead Fitzgerald but Siobhán Flannery, who finished with 1-8, and Rachel Brennan raised green flags for Offaly, while 17-year-old Leaving Cert student Sarah Harding came off the bench to score two vital points and have a hand in Brennan’s key major.
The lethal Shelly Farrell had a goal as Kilkenny led Waterford by 1-9 to 0-4 at half time. Beth Carton’s frees were the sole threat for the Déise girls however and though their deployment of two sweepers managed to keep Ann Downey’s side at bay for a period after the break, the Stripeywomen cut loose in the final quarter.
Katie Power helped herself to a goal in bringing her tally to 1-3 and Danielle Morrissey landed three frees to make it 2-15 to 0-6 at the final whistle.
In the group’s other game Dublin got the better of Clare in a cracker at the Parnell’s grounds in Coolock by 3-11 to 1-14.
It took a very good second-half effort from David Herity’s charges to register the win as they trailed by 1-7 to 1-3 at the interval. Siobhan Kehoe’s goal after eight minutes gave them an early four-point lead but Clare responded well, Niamh O’Dea’s major setting them up for a strong second quarter.
Clare moved six points clear with just over 20 minutes remaining, as Chloe Morey finished with seven points and O’Dea with 1-4, but goals from Aisling Maher and Zoe O’Donoghue edged Dublin ahead and points from Ali Twomey and Faye McCarthy (free) confirmed the victory.
In Group 2, Cork used a strong wind to pull away from Tipperary in the second half and record a 1-16 to 1-7 win at The Ragg. The home team had a mountain to climb at the interval as they trailed 0-6 to 0-4 despite having the advantage of the elements.
Cork punished them after the restart with two converted frees by Orla Cotter, who finished with six points including two from play, as well as minor scores from Niamh McCarthy, Libby Coppinger and Amy O’Connor before Hannah Looney displayed her footballing skills to kick a 35th minute goal.
Ciardha Maher goaled for Tipp late one but it was much too late to have any bearing on proceedings.