by Daragh Ó Conchúir
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Finals
Saturday August 5th
Dublin v Wexford, Semple Stadium, 5pm
Many were writing off Wexford’s chances of overall glory at the beginning of the campaign and plenty thought they might be vulnerable in a hugely competitive group.
In the end, they won three out of four games and though on the wrong end of an 18-point drubbing by Cork, were just that bit better than Offaly, Tipperary and Limerick, ultimately making it through to the last six with plenty to spare.
They have lost three hugely important players this year in the legendary Kate Kelly (retired), Mags D’Arcy (taking time out) and Katrina Parrock (soccer), and placed alongside the departure in recent years of some of the other greats of the golden era that yielded four All-Irelands, these were monumental blows.
But no-one can play forever and John Kelly and Matty Flynn O’Connor have given some of the younger players their heads, with Chloe Foxe and Joanne Dillon among those to prosper, while the Leacy and Kehoe siblings still provide plenty of leadership.
Dublin have been threatening to step up for a while. Shane O’Brien brought about significant organisation and improvement. He also introduced David Herity to the set-up last year and the former Kilkenny All-Ireland-winning hurler took over the reins this year.
Faye McCarthy’s long-range freetaking has been a feature of the campaign, while Aisling Maher is very accurate with placed balls closer to goals. Ali Maguire is back after an arm injury while Mairi Moynihan, Gráinne Quinn and Ali Twomey have of plenty experience too.
Wexford will be favourites but Dublin beat them in the League and this is one that could go down to the wire.
Galway v Tipperary, Semple Stadium, 7pm
In one sense, Tipperary are already in bonus territory, having waited until the last round of games to record a win that proved enough to make it through to this stage by one point on score difference against their victims, Offaly.
It was the definition of fine margins but the fact of the matter is that Tipp had been performing reasonably well, without getting the results.
The fact too is that they were in the top six last year too and were minutes away from a sensational victory over Wexford. They allowed an eight-point lead to slip and went out to a Kate Kelly injury-time point.
Lack of consistency has dogged them for a couple of years now but while Sarah Fryday is a huge loss, Cáit Devane’s return has offered more firepower, while Orla O’Dwyer, Megan Ryan and Nicole Walsh are dangerous attackers too.
Galway are on their third management team in three seasons with the retired former goal sneak Molly Dunne joining ex-Galway and Dublin hurler Niall Corcoran in Mark Dunne’s backroom stuff. Much of the playing personnel is familiar however.
Niamh Kilkenny remains a driving force from the middle and along with Lorraine Ryan provides serious leadership. Ailish O’Reilly has assumed freetaking duties and is doing well, while also retaining her eye for goal. Orlaith McGrath is in top form too while the youngest of the siblings Siobhán (Niamh and Clodagh are also on the panel) invariably does well off the bench.
There have been some tweaks in defence with long-hitting Sarah Healy assuming the goalkeeper’s mantle from the now-retired Susan Earner.
Galway will be expected to advance to the Semi-Finals but Tipp have shown before that they can bother the very best if they put their best foot forward.
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Quarter-Finals