by Daragh Ó Conchúir
CORK manager Paudie Murray sounded an understandably positive note after Cork turned around their Munster Final defeat to Limerick in definitive fashion with a 1-27 to 0-11 victory in their Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2 clash at Páirc Uí Rinn.
Murray had been critical after his charges had failed to reach expected levels both in the provincial decider and the preceding National League Final that they lost to Kilkenny.
The St. Finbarr’s clubman instructed captain Rena Buckley to play with the wind in the first half when she won the toss, having experienced facing the elements in the initial period in their opening round win over Tipperary.
They cut loose and led by 0-17 to 0-5 at the interval, with Amy O’Connor’s pace causing a lot of problems, while Orla Cotter was unerring from placed balls and Katrina Mackey and Orla Cronin were also dangerous.
“It was job done, another game out of the way” was Murray’s summation on Red FM. “The group stage is really about getting results and we’ve two from two. Wexford next week and if we win that I think it means we’re qualified and that’s key really.
“You look at the Munster Final and first of all you look at the referee that day. I think he gave over 40 frees, a stoppage every 38 seconds. They got 1-13, 11 of that from frees and that tells its own story. Today was a different day, the ball was moved a lot quicker and I thought at times we played some very good hurling.
“We played heads-up hurling all over the pitch. We know that Limerick really won’t be one of the superpowers. There will be stiffer tests ahead but at the end of the day, it was a good performance and I’m happy with it.
“We have been training very well. I suppose I get frustrated sometimes that we’re not delivering on the pitch on match day but we’re starting to put things together now. We’re that bit behind Kilkenny the whole time so it’s important we use all these games to get better.”
Limerick were unable to make any inroads with the wind behind them and again, were overly reliant on Niamh Mulcahy, who ended with seven points. In contrast, Cork had an impressive spread of scorers as Cotter finished with 11 points while Mackey, who passed a late fitness test, booted home a late goal to register 1-5. O’Connor and Cronin added four each on a very satisfying day for the Leesiders.
In the group’s other game, Wexford overcame the challenge of Offaly by 1-19 to 0-15. Kate Kelly brought a 21-season run of Championship Camogie to an end when announcing her retirement last week but the Model County outfit showed that they still have plenty of firepower against a team that displayed plenty of character in the second half and will still hold aspirations of reaching the last six.
Chloe Foxe, Úna Leacy, Linda Bolger and Joanne Dillon were much too hot to handle for the visitors, and Foxe had a goal and two points inside four minutes to help Wexford establish a six-point lead.
It was 1-12 to 0-4 at the break but Offaly were much improved in the second half as Arlene Watkins, Orlagh Kirwan and Ann Marie Guinan reduced the deficit but Leacy tagged on four points to bring her tally to seven and Dillon finished with four, while Mary Leacy and Ciara Storey excelled in defence to hold off the charging Faithful girls.