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by Daragh Ó Conchúir
Saturday August 3rd
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Quarter-Finals

Limerick v Tipperary
Semple Stadium, Thurles, 5.30pm
Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)
Live on RTÉ 2 & the RTÉ Player (including International Player)
*Extra-time to be played if required
These two have not met in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship for a while and there is cause for optimism that they might get proceedings off to a thrilling start at Semple Stadium.
Limerick have been one of the great puzzles of Senior Camogie in recent years, coming up as Intermediate champions in 2014 and reaching the National League Division 1 Semi-Finals in five consecutive seasons thereafter.
This was the first time that they managed to convert that form to the summer however, and one imagines that the relief was considerable when their qualification from the group stages for the first time was confirmed.
On paper, they had the most difficult group, including Kilkenny, who have been in five of the last six All-Ireland Finals, and League victors Galway.
Having gotten over a titanic tussle with Offaly and Wexford however in their first two outings, they had more or less secured their place in the knockout stages and were able to rest some of their dual players in the defeats to the big guns, albeit that Declan Nash would have liked his charges to be more competitive against the Cats last time out in particular, after giving Galway plenty to think about.
Captain Caoimhe Costelloe has excelled in providing on-field example and Sarah Carey is a constant driving force from midfield, while the powerful Rebecca Delee has proven a considerable goal threat.
Niamh Mulcahy remains the talisman for the Shannonsiders, the Ahane star racking up more remarkable tallies from frees and play but her teammates need to share the load for the girls in green to prevail.
Cork were the standout figures in Group 2 but the competitiveness for the other two qualifying spots was significant on paper.
Tipperary made the All-Ireland Semi-Final last year but had an eventful introduction to this year’s campaign, with their initial tie against Waterford abandoned after a serious injury to Nicole Walsh. They then lost manager Bill Mullaney, who stood down for health reasons just before the team suffered a heavy defeat to Cork.
Niamh Lillis stepped into Mullaney’s shoes and Tipp displayed tremendous grit to overcome Waterford in the refixture. Triumphs over Dublin and Meath followed and their character was much in evidence as they managed to deal with losses through injury during games to key players in Orla O’Dwyer and Karen Kennedy.
Cáit Devane is their leading scorer but she has real support, and Megan Ryan has been a notable goal threat from the middle third.
Caoimhe Bourke has excelled as captain but Mary Ryan has been the outstanding performer, in her 15th season of Championship Camogie.
This is one looks to set the pulses racing and the mouth watering. It could go any way and it would be no surprise if extra-time was required to separate them.
Galway v Waterford
Semple Stadium, Thurles, 7.15pm
Referee: Owen Elliot (Antrim)
Live on RTÉ 2 & the RTÉ Player (including International Player)
*Extra-time to be played if required
Galway would like to have repeated their League Final defeat of Kilkenny in the opening round of the Championship but given the proximity of that momentous Croke Park occasion, perhaps Kilkenny’s motivation was just that little bit greater, after being dominated by the Tribeswomen with silverware on the line.
The westerners’ progression was rarely in doubt however, Ailish O’Reilly and Noreen Coen scoring heavily against Offaly, Limerick and Wexford, though Limerick pushed them hard.
Skipper Sarah Dervan is the customary rock at full-back, while Aoife Donohue and Niamh Kilkenny are key operators that manager Cathal Murray is always looking to release into space from deep positions.
Waterford made the Quarter-Final last year for the first time and should be stronger for that experience. They are stronger too for the return to the fold of Trish Jackman, who has been commuting from England.
Jackman’s presence has freed up skipper Niamh Rockett to make herself felt closer to the opposition goal and she has had a real impact, adding scores to her ball winning and industry. That is a real boon, given that Beth Carton is one of the premier attackers in the land and the likes of teenager Annie Fitzgerald continues to grow into this level of competition.
Dónal O’Rourke’s crew beat Dublin early on but the loss to Tipperary in what was a refixture, after the opening tie was abandoned due to an injury to Tipperary’s Nicole Walsh, was a blow.
The response was impressive, as they inflicted a heavy defeat on a Meath side that has proven much harder to beat this summer. They were composed in accounting for Clare before putting up what was close to one of their best performances of the campaign when leading Cork at half-time in terrible weather before falling to a nine point defeat that was flattering to the Rebels.
A repeat of that type of effort is needed to overcome Galway, who definitely go into this affair as favourites, but if the Déise defence can neutralise their opponents’ all-star attack, with the scoring power at their disposal, they could spring a shock.

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