Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir
Tipperary are relying on pace-setters Cork to do them a big favour if their dream of participating in a first national final since 2009 is to be realised.
Denis Kelly’s side were left shellshocked as two injury-time points from Denise Gaule, no stranger to clutch scores, snatched a 0-14 to 0-13 triumph for Kilkenny in a hard-fought Very Camogie League Division 1A tie at Piltown GAA.
Gaule converted a free to win the All-Ireland final last August and she wasn’t found wanting once more when presented with two opportunities at the death.
Tipp had their fate in their own hands and a victory would have sealed their place in the decider but they can now be overhauled by Galway, if the defending champions can secure a draw at Páirc Uí Chaoimh tomorrow.
There was never much between the sides in a real dogfight, with the teams level on nine occasions.
Tipp got the better start with points from Eimear McGrath and Eimear Heffernan. Julianne Malone and Sophie O’Dwyer, who scored eight points between them, brought Kilkenny back level and it was nip and tuck before O’Dwyer delivered from a free to make it 0-5 to 0-4 for the home team.
Defences were definitely on top, but one player enjoying herself was Heffernan, the Knockavilla forward carrying on the good form with UCC that earned her a Third Level All-Star to finish with three points.
The second of those started a run of four points in seven minutes that moved Tipp 0-9 to 0-7 clear. Gaule (free) and Malone replied, and there was a further exchange of scores before Cáit Devane and Heffernan provided apparently significant separation with 52 minutes gone.
Again Brian Dowling’s Stripeywomen dug deep via a pair of Gaule scores. McGrath looked to have grasped a famous win with her fourth point in the third minute of injury time, but that was to reckon without the nerveless Gaule, who brought her tally to five and enabled Kilkenny to finish a largely forgettable campaign in the best possible manner.
In Division 1B, Waterford made it five wins from five when maintaining their rich vein of scoring form to account for Down by 3-16 to 0-10 at SETU Arena in Carriganore.
Last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists had already booked a place in the decider courtesy of their 100 per cent record, which allowed new manager Seán Power to make some changes but the were too strong nonetheless, indicating a real competition for places ahead of the final on the weekend of April 8/9th.
Two goals from Niamh Rockett gave the home team the upper hand in the first half, establishing a 2-8 to 0-6 lead and were content to keep the scoreboard ticking over until Anne Corcoran registered their third goal, two minutes from the end of regulation time.
With the game between Antrim and Wexford having been postponed, they will have to wait to find out who will be in opposition.
What is known is that Offaly have been relegated to the third tier as a result of their 2-14 to 1-14 defeat to Limerick at Mick Neville Park. Both senior sides were in danger of making the drop to Division 2A, with Offaly having managed a draw and Limerick after losing all of their previous four games.
However, last year’s All-Ireland quarter-finalists struck gold with the last six points of the game, having looked to have been in trouble trailing by three entering the final quarter.
They had goalkeeper Laura O’Neill to thank for not being further behind in what had been a close affair for the majority of proceedings before the see-saw conclusion.
Offaly got the perfect start with a goal from Siobhán Flannery after three minutes but Claire Keating settled the hosts with a brace of points. Mairéad Teehan restored Offaly’s advantage with six points in the first half alone but a Caoimhe Lyons goal made it 1-8 apiece at the interval.
Teehan was unerring in the second half once more but Limerick dug deep with their backs to the wall, Rachael O’Brien, Lyons, Orlaith Kelleher and Keating splitting the posts to record a momentous victory.
In Division 2A, Patrice Diggin scored ten points, half of which came from play, as Kerry cruised to a 2-15 to 1-5 triumph over Laois to qualify for the final on April 16 as table toppers, where they will face either Meath and Derry, who cross swords tomorrow.
The visitors to Austin Stack Park were in touch at half-time, trailing by just 0-9 to 1-2 but Kerry imposed themselves impressively to maintain their unbeaten record to date.
Also in this division, Westmeath outscored Cavan by 2-9 to 0-6.
The Division 3A semi-finals were also played and second-half goals from Breege Nolan and Emma Cody propelled Carlow to a 2-12 to 0-4 success over neighbours Kildare. They will Armagh, who defeated Roscommon, 1-14 to 1-6.
Mayo will play Tyrone in the Division 4 final, after the westerners defeated Wicklow 2-12 to 4-3 and Tyrone beat Louth 1-24 to 2-5.