By Daragh Ó Conchúir
KILKENNY will continue to focus on what they can bring to a game rather than any threats provided by the opposition as they bid to up the tempo for the All-Ireland Championship campaign, having bagged a third Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues Division 1 title in-a-row on Sunday.
So says captain Shelly Farrell, who acknowledges that there is plenty to work on with a summer and hopefully autumn programme in mind.
The Cats got off to a flying start in Sunday’s League Final at Nowlan Park. Cork beat them in last September’s All-Ireland decider but they had no answer to the power, pace and workrate of Kilkenny in the opening 20 minutes.
Ann Downey’s outfit raced into a 0-8 to 0-0 lead after eight minutes and led by 10 points well into the second quarter.
Cork gradually responded to the challenge, upping the ante themselves and making a couple of positional switches and had that margin down to the minimum by the final whistle.
Kilkenny were deserved winners but they only scored three points in the second half, which can most likely be attributed to a combination of a drop in performance levels on their behalf but also a significant improvement by the Rebels.
That initial Kilkenny blitz was a breathtaking display of Camogie that had Cork’s defence in complete disarray.
“That’s what we can do when we do go at it” remarked Farrell. “That’s what we’ve been doing at training and we know that’s what we have in us. We just have to get that every single time, for a full half and then a full match so we’ll be working on that.
“It’s only the start with the League so we’ve a lot more fitness to do. Hopefully when we do have the fitness to go with the hard work it will pay with a performance for a full match and hopefully we’ll get that come the summer.”
Given how tight competition has been between the counties in recent years, Farrell was unsurprised by the Cork comeback.
“They are strong. They had good girls on the line and so had we. It’s brilliant to use our panel and it shows the strength and depth there. We’re looking forward to the Championship.”
Downey and her management staff have made good use of the League in the past couple of years to blood fresh talent. Leaving Cert student, Aoife Doyle carried on what has been a breakthrough spring with an eye-catching performance in her first national decider and Farrell attests to the competitiveness of training as a result.
“Aoife has been very good and that’s after Danielle Morrissey started her first All-Ireland last year. That will drive her on a lot more and give her confidence, and the same with Aoife playing in her first League Final. It’s great to see the girls flying at training and they’re driving us on to fight for our place.
“There’s a great panel and we have great battles at training. You never know who’s going to start. It’s great to have that competition.”
The Championship remains the priority but Farrell reveals that they haven’t looked at last year’s All-Ireland yet.
They led with time running out but points by Gemma O’Connor right on the hour and then the dramatic winner in injury time by Julia White denied them.
“We just wanted to give a performance in this game. We haven’t looked at the Final last year, we’ve loads of time to do that.
“We just went out, took the shackles off and went at them. That showed in the first half but if we can produce that for a full game, it’ll be great. If we perform, we’ll have a great chance.”