For the second consecutive year the 2018 Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship went right to the very last puck of a sliotar to separate Cork and Kilkenny in the latest instalment of their epic rivalry of recent years. Once more it was Cork who prevailed as stalwart Orla Cotter kept her nerve to send over a match winning free in injury time to edge out the Cats as the Rebels claimed a record 28th All-Ireland title.
In 2019 the Rebels face into another campaign of being the team to beat having won four of the last five All-Ireland titles. They have been drawn in Group 2 for this year’s Championship which includes Clare, Dublin, Meath, Tipperary and Waterford and they will travel to Clare to open their title defence. They will be aiming for top spot and an automatic passage to the Semi-Finals. Cork however have been sent a warning shot as they fell at the Semi-Final stage of this year’s National League to Kilkenny, which their many rivals will hope may signal a changing of the guard and a potential chink in this great team’s armour.
This is a tight group in which the remaining sides will all realistically fancy their chances of making the knockout stages and even pushing for top spot in the group.
In Group 1 Galway and Kilkenny are undoubtedly the teams to beat having recently played out the National League Final which Galway won in impressive fashion to put themselves firmly in the discussion regarding potential All-Ireland winners this summer. The sides meet on the opening weekend and the Cats will be eager to avenge that League Final defeat in Croke Park as they begin their journey to make amends for agonising back-to-back All-Ireland Final defeats.
This group also features Limerick, Offaly and Wexford who’ll all be hoping to cause an upset and push for a place in the knockout stages. Limerick reached the Semi-Finals of the National League and will be determined to make 2019 the year that this group of players reaches the knockout stages of the Championship.
There are many exciting players to keep an eye out for across all of the Senior teams, in particular Cork’s Orla Cronin, Dublin’s Aisling Maher, Galway’s Carrie Dolan, Kilkenny’s Katie Power and Waterford’s Beth Carton to name but a few.
At Intermediate level Cork will set out to retain their title but will face stiff competition from the likes of Kilkenny and Tipperary who reached this year’s National League Final. Newly promoted Dublin will hope to be hold their own at this level in what is already a highly-competitive Championship grade.
There will be new winners of the Premier Junior title this year as 2018 champions Dublin have now stepped up to Intermediate level. Kerry were beaten finalists last September and will hope to go one step further this year.
The All-Ireland Finals will take place on Sunday September 8th in Croke Park and full fixtures for the Championships are available here