Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Final Previews
Dublin v Kilkenny, Gaelic Grounds, 5.15pm
Whatever happens from here on in, Dublin will probably be the story of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship. In a broader context, the Blues look to be on the brink of establishing themselves at the top table for a long time to come and certainly if they were to overthrow the champions, they will have well and truly arrived.
As it is, the defeat of Wexford in the Quarter-Final at Semple Stadium a fortnight ago was momentous, securing a spot in the last four for the first time in 27 years. With the Premier Juniors already in an All-Ireland Final and the Minor and U16 contingent from the Metropolitan County having reached Semi-Finals, it is evident that organisation and the establishment of a high performance structure has combined with grassroots industry to provide a well-prepared production line of talent.
It was the manner of the win over Wexford that was so impressive, given that they began nervously and conceded the first three points. Apart from a brief period at the beginning of the final quarter, they dominated the remainder of the game and were deserving victors.
Kilkenny represent a significant step up however but David Herity is well accustomed to the big day as a five-time All-Ireland winner in the black and amber jersey. He will bid to have his players ready for the fray and going out to embrace the occasion.
When the sides met in the group stages, the Noresiders put the game to bed early thanks to two goals in four minutes from Miriam Walsh and Danielle Morrissey. Having started sluggishly against Wexford as well, Dublin will be focusing on bursting out of the traps and not giving themselves ground to make up. Doing that against Kilkenny has proven beyond the very best in the past two years.
The Cats will know that they cannot concede frees as Dublin goalkeeper Faye McCarthy and full-forward Aisling Maher are unerring from placed balls, while both are proven match-winners in general play as well. Hannah Hegarty and Eimear McCarthy were just some of the other inspirational figures in an all-round team performance a fortnight ago that was centred on a work rate that will need to be replicated if the Dubs are to cause an even bigger shock.
Kilkenny have serious operators in every line. They continue to evolve and have looked comfortable right through the year, apart from when they needed a late point to snatch a draw against Clare.
Notably, they have no player near the summit of the leading scorers chart but are racking up significant tallies – that is a testament to the depth in the squad, with the likes of Morrissey excelling alongside established operators such as Katie Power, Shelly Farrell, skipper Anna Farrell and the massively influential Anne Dalton.
Kilkenny will be warm favourites but Dublin have already proven themselves no respecter of reputations and so cannot be taken lightly.
Cork v Galway, Gaelic Grounds, 7pm
This is a mouth-watering prospect, with the teams meeting for the first time since the 2015 decider when Cork upset the odds, having been beaten by Galway twice prior to that in the National League Final and the group stages of the Championship.
Cork returned to the All-Ireland Final last year but found Kilkenny too strong and it is worth recording that Galway only fell to the Stripeywomen after injury time in the Semi-Final.
They are on their third manager in as many seasons, Mark Dunne taking over from Ollie Bergin, who had in turn succeeded Tony Ward. Dunne, who has included his sister Molly in his backroom staff after her retirement, as well as former Galway and Dublin hurler Niall Corcoran, is moving closer to his strongest side, although he might have preferred a sterner test from Tipperary in the Quarter-Final.
They were extremely professional in navigating the group phase but were unable to break down Kilkenny. However, having finally given long-touted Minor star Siobhán McGrath her head, they have even more speed in attack and will look to cash in on the offensive threat that is also provided by McGrath’s sisters Orlaith and Niamh, Maria Cooney and the competition’s leading scorer Ailish O’Reilly.
Cork, of course, are renowned for their ability to smother opposition attacks, the likes of Pamela Mackey, Laura Treacy and captain Rena Buckley among the stickiest of defenders in the game. In addition, All-Ireland-winning skipper Ashling Thompson has been a central figure in the game-plan with her athleticism enabling her to sweep up deep in her own half while also forcing turnovers around the field and getting forward for a score or two. Gemma O’Connor, Aoife Murray and Orla Cotter are just some other who provide plenty of experience while Niamh McCarthy represents the new breed.
Galway have a similar profile in that regard, as apart from Siobhán McGrath, Róisín Black is a newcomer who has appeared to the manor born in defence. At the other end of the experience spectrum, Sarah Dervan’s return from injury adds steel to that division, Lorraine Ryan was captain when they won the All-Ireland in 2013 and Niamh Kilkenny remains an absolute joy to watch and a pain to marshal with her runs from deep and ability to finish off either side.
If both teams turn up, this could be a game for the ages.
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Finals
Saturday August 19th
Dublin v Kilkenny
Gaelic Grounds, Limerick
Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)
Cork v Galway
Gaelic Grounds, Limerick
Referee: Eamon Cassidy (Derry)
*Extra-time to be played in the event of a draw in either game.
Juveniles (12-18): €3
Under 12s: Free
Tickets can be purchased from selected Centra and SuperValu stores nationwide. Tickets will also be available to purchase at the ground on the day of the match.