We look ahead to the first of our Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Finals taking place this Saturday as 2018 champions Cork take on their Munster counterparts Clare for a place in the Semi-Finals!
Clare v Cork, Pairc Uí Chaoimh, 1:00pm, Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny)
For the Banner county it has been a positive Championship campaign to date, and they will take massive pride knowing that this is the first time since 2014 that they have reached this stage of the Championship.
The highlight for the yellow and blue side was a fantastic victory in their final group match against Dublin, coming out with a 1-18 to 1-7 victory to clinch their place in the knockout stages.
Having been drawn in Group 3 of the Championship, alongside Dublin and Tipperary, one victory from their two games was enough to earn their spot, but they were made to work hard for that chance after leading by just two points at the interval, 0-6 to 0-4 against the Sky Blue outfit.
Their first group match did not exactly go as planned as Tipperary breezed past Ger O’Connell’s side by 0-20 to 1-8, after leading by the same margin of nine points at the interval. With Dublin also losing their fixture to Tipperary, it meant that it all came down to that last group fixture between themselves and the Dubs for that last spot.
In that pressure match, and playing on home turf, the Banner women showed their quality in the second-half and proved their worth with a surge of scores including a goal from Mairéad Scanlon, combined with excellent defending from centre-back Niamh O’Dea who claimed the Player of the Match award.
An attacker like Chloe Morey would be welcomed onto every county panel, and there is no doubt that having the quality in defence that O’Dea showed last time out provides that bit of confidence amongst the players in the Clare dressing room that they have the quality to hurt teams on their day.
The goal for Clare at the beginning of the campaign was progression to the knockout stages, so with that goal ticked off the list, their next one will be to overcome a powerful Cork side who are looking to make yet another Semi-Final.
Very rarely do we reach the knockout stages of the Senior Championship without the Rebels being one of the teams competing for the honours and despite the varying degree of differences that 2020 has brought both inside and outside of sport, it seems like business as normal for this Cork Camogie side.
Having been drawn in Group 1 alongside reigning champions Galway, and Leinster outfits Wexford and Offaly, it was a group that was sure to test the strengths and weaknesses of the Munster team.
An away trip to the Faithful County was to be the beginning of the Championship journey for Paudie Murray’s side however a walkover from the home side put Cork’s Championship start on hold.
After that delay, Wexford were the first opponents for the Rebels in the campaign. The margin of victory over Wexford was 10 points but the scoreline may have been harsh on their opponents on the day. Two late goals from Amy O’Connor and Saoirse McCarthy added to a hefty winning margin with Orla Cronin and O’Connor in clinical form on the day and also throughout the group stages.
Then came the repeat of last year’s epic Semi-Final showdown between the Tribeswomen and the Rebels! While it wasn’t the same fierce contest as the previous season it still produced moments of magic.
Despite losing the game by three points Cork will not be too disappointed as a missed penalty in the opening minutes of the game could have provided a different outcome as Chloe Sigerson put her effort straight at goalkeeper Sarah Healy.
They matched the champions for skill and work ethic and the defeat will bring its own positives, mainly that this team are still evenly matched with the team that snatched the title from them 12 months ago!
For details of how to watch all of this weekend’s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Championship fixtures click HERE