Cork manager, Matthew Twomey is pleased with the way his squad is progressing this year under his stewardship and that was very much in evidence as they moved to the top of Group 1 of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior camogie championship with a 2-17 to 2-5 triumph over Clare at Páirc Uí Rinn Saturday night.
It was a repeat of the Munster final clash that went to extra time just a fortnight previously but the verdict of this tussle was never in doubt, as Amy O’Connor kept her stunning goal ratio up with a brace, while Laura Hayes, Orla Cronin, Chloe Sigerson and Saoirse McCarthy shot some fantastic points.
Clare battled hard and were rewarded with two final-quarter goals from Lorna McNamara and Clare Hehir but there were still 12 points between the sides at the final whistle.
“We took control of the game from the start,” said Twomey on Red FM’s Big Red Bench. “To be fair to Clare, they have been out nearly five weeks on the bounce now (having also had a replay with Tipperary in the Munster semi-final) and you could see after about 15 minutes that they were starting to get a bit leggy.
“It was 1-8 to 0-4 at half-time. Then, at the start of the second half, we got another goal and the game was as good as gone. We played very well in patches but left a good number of scores behind us too. Overall, I would have to be very, very happy with our performance.
“Number one, for me, is the progression that we have made but that result and three more points on the board means we are top of the group. That’s where we want to be. That was the aim going out there on Saturday night, especially after such a tough game against Clare in the Munster final.”
Dublin are on Cork’s coattails but were denied full points by a late Cáit Devane point from a free, her seventh of the day, at Parnell Park to make it 0-10 apiece. Aisling Maher, Aisling O’Neill, Kerrie Finnegan and Ali Twomey had helped the home team establish a three-point advantage with ten minutes of regulation time remaining.
Tipp were down to 14 at this stage too, following the dismissal at the three-quarter mark of the hugely influential Róisín Howard but a Devane pair of points either side of a Niamh Treacy score brought them level.
Niamh Gannon looked to have snatched the win for Dublin but Devane made it a second draw in a week for Bill Mullaney’s charges.
“It was one hell of a championship match,” said Dublin boss, Adrian O’Sullivan on DubsTV. “Tipp are a serious outfit. They’ve been in the All-Ireland semi-final the last four years in a row so we knew it would be a huge challenge match coming in.
“We brought a massive intensity to it as did they. As I said to Aisling O’Neill, she’s learned a lot in the last seven days. That’s what championship is. Tipp are a top four team and that’s what we want to try and achieve.
“We went 10-9 up in injury time and I thought we should have held on. They had a player sent off. There’s no doubt we had our chances but once the disappointment goes away and we settle down later on, if you’d offered me four points from the first two games, I’d have snapped your hand off as our group is really difficult. That leaves us in a pretty strong position going into next week (against Cork).
“We don’t make any bones about it. We’re not trying to come in under the radar. We know we’ve a good team. We don’t do moral victories, we know exactly what we’re capable of and that’s probably where the disappointment is coming from but we’ve a young team, we’d six championship debutants last week so to deliver a performance like that in front of a big home crowd on a lovely day, it had a real championship feel to it.”
Lorraine Bray produced a real captain’s performance with 2-2 to propel Waterford to a stunning 3-18 to 0-9 victory over Wexford in the south-east derby at Walsh Park. Bray and Orla Hickey rattled the net in the space of a minute to rock the visitors and though Kevin Tattan’s side steadied the ship, once Bray nabbed her second major six minutes into the second half, it was plain sailing for Derek Lyons’ crew.
In Group 2, Galway and Kilkenny kept their 100 per cent records, with the All-Ireland champions defeating Offaly by 2-12 to 1-6 at St Brendan’s Park and the Cats proving far too strong for Limerick, 1-21 to 0-6 at UPMC Nowlan Park.
Sabina Rabbitte and Áine Keane spoke to the increasing depth of the westerners’ squad by providing the goals to edge their team clear, while Offaly’s leading scorer, Mairéad Teehan secured their major.
Aoife Doyle hit Kilkenny’s first-half goal but Brian Dowling’s unit had scoring threats from all angles, Denise Gaule, Miriam Walsh, Katie Power, Katie Nolan, Mary O’Connell, Miriam Bambrick, Laura Murphy and Julieann Malone all getting on the scoresheet, while a youthful Limerick side, who will hope things become marginally little easier now having opened their campaign against Galway, were reliant on Caoimhe Costelloe.
Antrim remain unbeaten too after the first Ulster derby at senior championship level in 40 years ended in a 1-12 to 1-12 draw at Ballycran, the brilliant Niamh Mallon bringing her tally to 1-9, 1-5 from play, with a 58th minute point for Down.
That score arrived in response to a tremendous individual goal for Caoimhe Wright, that looked to have snatched it for the visitors.