All-Ireland champions Galway got their Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 1 campaign off to the worst possible start, as they fell to a voraciously hungry Kilkenny outfit in Ballinasloe writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.
Of course, the Noresiders had the memory of their All-Ireland final loss to the westerners to motivate them and they flew out of the traps, doing most of the damage in the first half before easing to a 2-11 to 0-8 success.
They looked very sharp from the outset and after the teams traded points through Michelle Quilty and Niamh Kilkenny, the opening goal came in eighth minute. Shelley Farrell was always a threat and when her shot was saved by Susan Earner, Aoife Neary finished it to the net.
Maria Cooney got Galway’s first point from play but Kilkenny had a second goal after 19 minutes. Once more, Farrell was involved, combining well with Marie Dargan. Earner actually gathered possession but was blocked down by Quilty, who did the needful from close range. Denise Gaule, Dargan and Farrell all added points to leave it 2-6 to 0-4 at the interval.
Any hopes of a second-half surge from Galway were extinguished fairly quickly as Quilty and Gaule (two frees) stretched the margin to 11 points. Had their shooting been better, the advantage would have been even greater.
They were able to empty the bench early and with Mairead Power, Edwina Keane and Elaine Aylward forming a brilliant half-back division, and Aisling Dunphy on top at midfield, Galway were always struggling.
The switch of Heather Cooney to full-back did have a positive effect for the hosts, who were missing seven of their All-Ireland winning team. They were too reliant on Niamh Kilkenny for scores though and she added four second-half points to bring her tally to seven.
It was easy for Offaly as they beat Tipperary 2-17 to 0-10 in Birr. The home team played against the wind in the opening period, at the end of which they trailed by just 0-8 to 0-6. Nicole Walsh, who finished with five points, was Tipperary’s chief scoregetter but once Offaly literally got the wind in their sails, there was no doubt about which way this was going.
They hit five quick points, with Elaine Dermody providing three of them and having a hand in the other two. Natalie McCabe goaled after 38 minutes and four minutes later, substitute Arlene Watkins rifled a shot to the net to finish the game as a contest.
Clare used the elements well to account for Derry in Bray, holding their opponents scoreless while scoring 1-11. The Oak Leafers will take plenty of encouragement from their second-half efforts though, particularly as they had been forced to field without the injured Karen Kielt.
Clare gave teenager, Vera Loughnane her first start and she had a goal and two points scored by the fifth minute. Máire McGrath was outstanding at full-back and Claire McMahon, Laura Linnane and Fiona Lafferty were amongst the point-scorers.
Mary Kelly grabbed an early goal for Derry in the second half and Bronagh McGillian notched up five points from placed balls but Clare were never going to be caught.
Katrina Mackey took the weekend’s scoring honours, registering 4-3 as champions Cork blitzed Dublin 8-18 to 1-4. There were goals too for Jenny O’Leary, Orla Cotter, Eimear O’Sullivan and Joanne Casey, while Cotter added six points to her tally and O’Leary four. Aisling Maher got Dublin’s goal.
In Division 2, Lydia Fitzparick and Aisling Butler were the goal-scorers as Kilkenny accounted for Galway 2-8 to 0-3, while last year’s beaten finalists Kildare drew with Cork 0-10 apiece; Jessica Hennigan scoring six points for the Rebels and Siobhan Hurley notching up five for the Lilywhites.
Laois, who lost to Kildare in last year’s All-Ireland premier junior final, enjoyed a 4-12 to 0-1 win over Wexford. Niamh Dollard certainly enjoyed her day, scoring 3-1, while Sarah Ann Fitzgerald weighed in with 1-5.