Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir
NIAMH MULCAHY worked the oracle for the umpteenth time in a storied 14-year career with Limerick, holding her nerve to convert a 58th minute free and grab a 0-8 to 0-8 draw for her side against neighbours Clare in their Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Group 1 tie at Sixmilebridge.
In the build-up, Limerick captain Sarah Carey had described it as “like an All-Ireland Final” for both sides, and a “must-win game” after the neighbours had lost their first round games last weekend.
A second defeat would have been catastrophic and in that context, a share of the spoils was not the worst result but Limerick will be the happiest, having come from three points down at half time and still two in arrears with eight minutes remaining until Mulcahy landed two frees to rescue Declan Nash’s charges.
The swirling wind made it difficult for both sides but even allowing for that, it was a strange affair. Clare held the upper hand at half time after a cagey opening period, leading by 0-7 to 0-4. They actually conceded the first score to a Mulcahy free but Niamh O’Dea equalised after gathering Carol O’Leary’s measured delivery and Chloe Morey slotted two points to put the hosts two in front.
Mulcahy found the target either end of a Doireann Murphy point from Clare to reduce the margin before Carey tied it up once more at 0-4 apiece with 22 minutes elapsed. Trish O’Grady’s unit hit a purple patch before the short whistle though, with Morey, Orlaith Duggan and Morey once more giving them a nice lead.
They only managed one point in the second half however That came from Morey in the 48th minute, after Caoimhe Costelloe and Mulcahy had reduced the margin to one. It was no surprise that it was the 28-year-old Ahane legend who stepped up to the mark to grab what could yet be a vital point.
Newcomer Carrie Dolan hit 1-8 as Galway secured the second of the two home victories manager Cathal Murray had prescribed by defeating Waterford by 4-12 to 0-8 at Kenny Park. That moves the Tribeswomen to the top of the table with trips to Limerick and League champions Kilkenny to come.
Just as they did seven days previously, Galway had a goal and two points on the board in a matter of minutes. Niamh Rockett pointed at the other end in the fifth minute but Waterford only managed one more point in the first half playing into a strong wind, the tightly-marked Beth Carton converting a free.
In contrast, Galway’s forwards were flourishing playing with a strong wind. Aoife Donohue grabbed the first goal in the third minute and further majors from the ever-dangerous Ailish O’Reilly and Orlaith McGrath before the end of the first quarter helped them lead 3-6 to 0-2 at the change of ends.
To make matters worse for Waterford, they had defender Aoife Landers red carded in the 17th minute but they showed tremendous resolve to maintain their effort levels, especially in the second half, even though Dolan registered Galway’s fourth goal three minutes into the second half.
Carton hit four second-half points to bring her tally to five, while Rockett and Áine Lyng also hit the target for the visitors but Galway were comfortable, Dolan and Niamh McGrath adding points before the final whistle.