By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Galway and Tipperary joined Cork on top of the Division 1A table of the Very Camogie League as a result of comfortable wins secured over Dublin and Clare respectively.
The Rebels play Kilkenny tomorrow (Sunday) and the pressure has been placed on them by their nearest rivals, with only the top two reaching the final next month.
Galway’s defence of their title got off to a very poor start at the hurleys of Tipp but they have improved in the meantime and would have been expected to get the better of Dublin, who are propping up the table.
They did, by 1-14 to 0-9 at Duggan Park but it was a workmanlike effort, albeit that Dublin deserve credit for making it hard on the hosts and continuing their own improvement under Gerry McQuaid since being blown away by Cork on the opening weekend.
Carrie Dolan has excelled from the start of the season for the Maroons and she provided a goal and ten points to her team’s tally on this occasion. The same applies to Aisling Maher in the Sky Blues jersey and the former All-Star shot all bar one point of the Dubs’ tally.
It was 1-10 to 0-5 at half-time, Galway hitting the opening five points of the game in the first nine minutes before Gaby Couch hit the only Dublin point not registered by Maher.
Dolan’s goal arrived at the end of the first quarter and she had 1-6 in the first half alone, including a couple of nice points from play.
Dublin actually drew the second half, with both sets of defences on top apart from the two sharpshooters, who slotted four points apiece.
Tipperary have been tremendous to date, their only loss being a narrow two-point one to Cork and they put Clare to the sword at The Ragg. Leading by 0-14 to 0-0 at the interval, they were able to cruise to the finish line for a 1-20 to 0-7 triumph.
Niamh Treacy (0-4), Caoimhe Maher (1-2) and Eimear McGrath (0-4) were huge contributors in attack and with the remarkable Cáit Devane hitting nine points, it was a game for Denis Kelly’s forwards to enjoy themselves.
Kelly also was able to introduce legendary former All-Star defender, Mary Ryan for her first outing of the year after illness to sweeten on already memorable day for the Premier.
The same can’t be said for Clare, who defeated All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in the first round but were falling to a third successive defeat since. This was by far the worst, as they failed to record a single score in the first half.
The second was better, particularly as they were down to 14 players after Ciara Grogan received her marching orders for a second yellow card just before the break.
In truth, it was all about pride after that and they did show that, as Orlaith Duggan, Lorna McNamara and Chloe Morey split the posts but Maher breached their defences for her major in the 42nd minute and it was plain sailing for the home team.
In Division 1B, Down inflicted a fourth consecutive defeat on Limerick on a 2-13 to 0-6 scoreline at the Liatroim Fontenoys grounds, putting the visitors in danger of being relegated to the third tier less than a year after being in an All-Ireland quarter-final.
In Division 2A, Meath edged out Cavan by 0-11 to 1-7 and Westmeath accounted by Laois by 1-13 to 1-5.