By Daragh Ó Conchúir
It wasn’t pretty but Tipperary manager Niamh Lillis was pleased that her charges hit the last five points to register a hard-fought 0-15 to 0-11 win over Meath in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship at Donaghmore-Ashbourne on Saturday.
That victory, combined with Waterford’s defeat to Cork yesterday, ensured that Tipp finished second in Group 2 and will play Limerick in the All-Ireland Quarter-Final at Semple Stadium on August 3rd, with the other Quarter-Final being contested by Galway and the Déise.
All-Ireland champions Cork and last year’s beaten finalists Kilkenny progress directly to the Semi-Finals on August 17th as group winners.
Tipp were made to work hard by a Meath unit that has been extremely competitive this season despite failing to register a win and they have a relegation play-off against either Wexford or Offaly.
Lillis praised the Royals for a committed effort that saw them lead by a point entering the closing stages, with Jane Dolan, Kristina Troy and Megan Thynne prominent. She was not happy with the endeavours of her crew but with the introduction of a few stalwarts in the second half, they finished strongly.
Nicole Walsh marking an eye-catching return from injury to give them the lead in the 58th minute, and scores from Miriam Campion, Cáit Devane and Grace O’Brien in injury time put a very flattering look on the scoreline.
“Looking at the other games Meath have played this year, they bring a huge physical intensity to it and they played like that today” said Lillis. “They gave us enough of it in the first half and I suppose we didn’t perform up to par either.
“But we got it together and grinded out the win and that’s the main thing.
“We didn’t work hard enough and that’s the reality of it. And it’s not going to be good enough to get us through a Quarter-Final. We have to up our workrate but we can and we’ve two weeks to get that right.
“We spoke all year about the strength and depth of the panel and that showed again there when we needed to dig out the win and the girls came in.
“In fairness to Meath, they turned up today, they’re on the home turf and they’d nothing to lose. They have some fantastic Camogie players.
“We’re really looking forward to (the Quarter-Final but) we do have a lot of work to do.”
An Orla Cronin-inspired second-half improvement was required for Cork to defeat Waterford by a flattering 2-10 to 0-7 scoreline at Walsh Park in yesterday’s only game.
Beth Carton had five points from frees to give the hosts a 0-6 to 0-4 lead at half-time in a game played in torrential rain, but Cronin had the sides level within two minutes and scored a brilliant goal at the three-quarter mark. Niamh McCarthy added another major in injury time.
Kilkenny were magnificent as they defeated Limerick by 4-23 to 1-13 at the John Lockes grounds in Callan. Katie Power, Denise Gaule and Michelle Quilty hit four points each for Kilkenny to lead by 0-16 to 0-6 at the interval.
Reigning player of the year Anne Dalton grabbed two second-half goals, and Power and Quilty also raised green flags. Rebecca Delee goaled late on for Limerick.
Noreen Coen had a goal in the first minute on the way to registering a personal tally of 1-5 and Ailish O'Reilly added a second before the break on the way to finishing with 1-6 as Galway led Wexford by 2-10 to 0-3 at the change of ends. Catherine Finnerty came off the bench to score 1-2 in the final quarter, while Chloe Foxe provided three of Wexford's four points as it finished 3-25 to 0-4.
Aisling Maher hit an early goal as Dublin established an early five-point lead against Clare but Mairéad Scanlon recorded a goal and six points for Ger O’Connell’s side to have the advantage at half time, 1-8 to 1-2. Dublin went goal crazy after the resumption and led by two points late on but points from Chloe Morey and Duggan salvaged a 4-5 to 2-11 draw for the Bannerwomen.