DUBLIN Camogie received another significant boost after the county’s Premier Junior team kept their double hopes alive by securing a place on the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Final triple-header at Croke Park on September 10.
Westmeath, who plied their National League trade in a higher division than the Dubs, will provide very tough opposition after just holding off last year’s finalists Armagh.
With the Seniors having booked a last-four slot thanks to a famous victory over Wexford and the Minors and U16s also attained Semi-Final positions, it has been a real breakthrough season for the Metropolitans.
Kerry provided the opposition in this penultimate hurdle at the Gaelic Grounds. Dublin prevailed narrowly in an entertaining game in the League earlier in the year on their way to annexing the Division 3 title and knew they could expect a stiff challenge at the Gaelic Grounds.
It was as closely contested as predicted in the first half, at the end of which Dublin led by the odd point in 11 but Evelyn Twomey’s goal seven minutes after the restart turned the tide in favour of Shane Plowman’s charges as they triumphed by 1-12 to 0-9.
Patrice Diggins scored four of her eight points in the opening half for Kerry but Aoife Bugler did likewise on her way to finishing with a tally of seven and it was 0-6 to 0-5 at half time. Twomey’s goal was critical and while Kerry never gave up they couldn’t raise the green flag they needed to get back into the game.
Westmeath had to survive a determined late rally from Armagh to advance but they had enough done to hold off last year’s runners-up by 0-15 to 1-11.
It was nip and tuck early on and Armagh led by 0-5 to 0-4 after 24 minutes thanks to points from the Donnelly sisters Ciara and Leanne, and Colette McSorley. Westmeath finished strongly however as the deadly Dinah Loughlin and Denise McGrath slotted a pair each to make it 0-8 to 0-5 at the interval.
With O’Loughlin unerring from play and dead balls, that margin was doubled by the end of the regulation period, Westmeath leading by 0-15 to 0-9. Armagh chipped on two points before Eimear Hayes goaled in the sixth minute of injury time but time ran out on them and it was Westmeath that were victorious.
Meanwhile, Derry will renew rivalries with Cork in the Semi-Finals of the Intermediate Championship, with long-term acquaintances Meath and Kildare also doing battle in a bid to appear at Headquarters next month.
Cork were far too strong for Derry in the Division 2 League Final at the end of April, winning by 12 points but that squad has been weakened some extent by the loss of players to Senior fare durig the summer. Indeed they play Group 1 winners Derry because they could only finishe second in Group 2.
Down needed to beat Cork by 10 points in Fermoy to snatch a spot in the the penultimate round. That always looked like a tall order however and so it proved as they could not contend with the Leesiders’ firepower. Rachel O’Shea (0-5), Caroline Sugrue (1-2), Linda Collins (1-1) and Maeve McCarthy (1-0) were all significant contributors as Cork won by 3-11 to 0-9, with Paul Gribben responsible for all bar one point of the visitors’ tally.
Meath made short work of Carlow, beating them 3-10 to 0-4 at Netwatch Dr Cullen Park. Eleanor Treacy provided all the home team's scores but Meath had scoring potential from every corner. The Royals had seven contributors to their final tally with the irrepressible Jane Dolan, Aoife Minogue and Kristina Troy raising the green flags. Having beaten Cork last month, the Leinster outfit ensured top seeding.
That means they play Kildare, who they have crossed swords with on countless occasions in the past decade as both counties came through the ranks in Championship and League. The Lilies were schedule to play Wexford, who had drawn with Derry in the previous round and would have overtaken their fellow Leinster team had they beaten them. The Yellowbellies were unable to field a side however and had to concede the points.
That left Derry needing to beat Antrim to take top spot in Group 1 and they had no concerns, defeating Antrim by 3-27 to 1-6 at the All Saints GAC facilities in Ballymena. It was all over at half time as the Oak Leafers led by 2-14 to 0-3 and they cruised to an emphatic success.
There was nothing but local pride at stake as Tipperary beat Kilkenny by 3-14 to 1-14 in a free-flowing affair at The Ragg. Aoife Moloughney was the hero for the hosts, contributing a whopping 1-12, while Orla Hanrick shot eight points for the Cats.
Galway secured their first points of the campaign, ruing the concession of a couple of goals to Eimear Guidrea and Linda Keyes that denied them the win at O’Moore Park. Louise Mahony shot six points too for Laois but last year’s Minor star Leanne Freaney gave Senior manager Mark Dunne a nudge by scoring 12 points in a thriller that finished 2-11 to 0-17.