Offaly v Wexford, O’Moore Park, 1.45pm
This is a repeat of last year’s semi-final, when Wexford proved 18 points too strong for Offaly before going on to get their hands on the O’Duffy Cup for a third consecutive season and fourth in six attempts.
The Faithful’s finest were dreadfully disappointed with their performance on that occasion however, feeling that they never did themselves justice and went into this year’s campaign determined to do better.
They opened on June 22 with a 17-point win over Dublin. Tipperary provided sterner opposition a fortnight later but Aidan Franks’ team still had eight points in hand. That cemented their place in the last six, but with Cork also two-for-two, the sides met in Páirc Uí Rinn with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs.
Offaly never really got in contention against the favourites for this year’s ultimate honours, with the Leesiders winning by 0-19 to 0-10.
As has been the case for most of the 21st century, Elaine Dermody is the chief scorer while Siobhán Flannery has been a key operator too. The absence of captain Arlene Watkins with a broken leg suffered three weeks before the championship has been significant and this might come just too soon for her.
While Wexford’s record over Offaly is very good, this is not the same force that has dominated camogie in recent times. Claire O’Connor, Catherine O’Loughlin and Michelle O’Leary have all retired, while Una Leacy, Deirdre Codd and Lisa Bolger are unavailable after taking a year out to travel.
A number of those that might have been expected to step up have moved on too, while Katrina Parrock’s broken thumb has stretched resources further.
Accentuating the upheaval was the decision of manager, JJ Doyle to step down. Martin Lynch came in and appeared to be doing a very nice job to get a transitional side back to the League final. Defeat would not have been viewed as cataclysmic but after being beaten in the Leinster final by Kilkenny, they parted ways with Lynch and Doyle returned to the fray.
After beating senior championship newcomers Derry, they fell to old rivals Galway and another reverse at the hands of Kilkenny left Wexford needing to beat Clare just to stay alive.
Kate Kelly gave a prodigious performance as Doyle’s crew showed their championship mettle once again and although Offaly are certain to be much closer than they were 12 months ago, the experience of the likes of Ursula Jacob, Mary Leacy, Kelly and Mags D’Arcy is taken to prevail.
Galway v Tipperary, O’Moore Park, 3.30pm
Galway were in the hugely competitive five-team Group 1 that also included Wexford, league semi-finalists Clare and senior newcomers Derry but was completely dominated by Kilkenny. They crossed swords with the Noresiders in the first round six weeks ago and despite a much improved second half effort, just failed by two points to peg them back.
Tony Ward’s charges displayed their genuine championship credentials from thereon though, coming out on top by two points against Wexford in what most have been a very satisfying result given the amount of setbacks they have suffered at the Yellowbellies’ hands over the years.
They followed that up with perhaps their most complete performance to date in a 3-12 to 1-12 win over a highly-considered Clare, and with Derry their last victims, finished a comfortable second to earn a tie against the third team in Group 2.
That proved to be Tipperary, who made it through despite a largely uninspiring campaign. A largely youthful outfit that badly missed the guile and experience of injured former All-Ireland winner Joanne Ryan, it was always going to be difficult.
Cork were much too strong in their opening tie and though more competitive against Offaly, they never looked likely to be victorious.
That left their last game against Dublin as a straight shootout for a quarter-final spot. With Nicole Walsh, Ereena and Sarah Fryday, and the outstanding Jill Horan in their ranks, they had too much firepower for the Metropolitans, having 10 points in hand at the final whistle.
Galway have been operating at a completely different level however, appearing in an All-Ireland semi-final and two finals in the past three seasons. They are without the retired Veronica Curtin, and Aislinn Connolly, who has taken the year off, but can still call on Therése Maher, Lorraine Ryan, Ann Marie Hayes and goal machine Brenda Hanney, which should ensure their advance to the penultimate stages once more.
Pictured: Wexford's Kate Kelly at the launch of the Liberty Insurance Championships with representatives from this year's senior grades.
The Draw for the Liberty Insurance Senior Camogie Semi-finals will take place immediately after the quarter-finals games. It will be an open draw with the winners of Wexford/Offaly and Galway/Tipperary going into a hat with Cork and Kilkenny and teams drawn out. The semi-finals will take place in Nowlan Park on August 17th.
Admission for Liberty Insurance Senior Quarter-Finals & U16 A All Ireland
Juveniles (U16) Free admission