ALL-IRELAND champions Cork maintained their perfect record in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League but were pushed all the way by Offaly in doing so at Faithful Fields, before edging the contest by 2-11 to 2-9.
That gives Paudie Murray’s side top spot in Group 1 and a place in the Semi-Final, while their vanquished opponents will be preparing for a relegation play-off against Meath, who prop up Group 2.
Goals from Katrina Mackey and Hannah Looney kept Cork’s noses in front, with Orla Cotter slotting five points.
Amy O’Connor has been in magnificent form throughout the Littlewoods Ireland League and pre-match concerns about her fitness, and that of Orla Cronin, were allayed as O’Connor contributed three points and Cronin two.
Helen Dolan, who was part of NUIG’s Purcell Cup-winning squad on Tuesday night, carried that momentum through and took Cork for two goals.
Debbie Flynn and Patrice Delaney provided three points each as the hosts put Cork to the pin of their collar but Mike Wall and Adrian O’Sullivan’s charges could not find the other goal they needed to pull off the shock.
In Group 2, Clare’s Semi-Final ambitions ended at Parnells, where they lost to Dublin by 1-12 to 0-10.
The visitors led by two points early on thanks to three Chloe Morey points but Siobhán Kehoe had five in the first half as Dublin moved ahead by the break, 0-6 to 0-4.
It was the Kehoe and Morey competition after the resumption too, bringing their respective tallies to 10 and eight points.
Clare were still within one of Dublin with nine minutes remaining but Kehoe hit the target twice to open up some daylight and though Morey made it a two-point game once more, Róisín Baker removed all doubt with a 60th minute goal and bring the curtain down on Dublin’s campaign in successful fashion.
In Division 2, Cork beat Antrim by 1-17 to 0-5. Due to work and other commitments, Antrim had to travel to the Cork Camogie Grounds with just 16 players and seven starting changes from last week’s win over Wexford. Into the bargain they were facing into the strong breeze in the opening half and failed to score.
Keeva McCarthy punished them with seven points as her side led 1-13 to 0-0 at the turnover, the goal kicked home in the 16th minute by Caroline Sugrue.
During the second half, play was much more balanced and Antrim scored three of the first four points. But the gap was always going to be too much against a team that is the benchmark for the division.
McCarthy finished with 10 points for the victors, seven of which came from frees, while Sugrue added a brace of points to her goal. For Antrim, Katie McAleese was top scorer with three points.
In Division 3, Roscommon were too strong for Tyrone 6-21 to 0-1.
In the All-Ireland Minor A Camogie Championship, there were wins for Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Tipperary, while Carlow, Antrim and Westmeath were triumphant in the Minor B.
Ciara Laverty got Antrim off to the perfect start in their 1-12 to 1-4 win over Kildare with a third minute goal at Hawkfield.
The sides had contested a closely-fought Minor final last year, but the Saffrons controlled this game from start to finish with Eilish Kearins outstanding at full-back, a dominant half-back line and a midfield pairing of Maeve Kelly and Róisín McCormick who between them contributed five points from play and three more from frees.
Indeed a feature of the first half scoring was that all Antrim’s 1-7 came from open play, while Kildare’s three points were all frees converted by Holly Tynan.
The first of those frees came in the 8th minute, by which time Antrim had scored 1-1. Then there was a run of five unanswered Antrim points started by Charley McCarry that left them in a healthy 1-6 to 0-1 lead. Two of those scores stood out, McCormick’s glorious point and a 17th minute score from Maura Downey.
After the break Tynan pointed another Kildare free, but McCormick immediately responded from play and Antrim pushed on with another four points, three from McCormick before right on the whistle Tynan got in for a late consolation goal.
While Antrim recorded their second win from two outings, Armagh slumped to their second heavy defeat, 7-16 to 0-4, to Westmeath who are expected to be the Saffrons’ main threat for the title.