By Daragh Ó Conchúir
FIVE-TIME All-Star Orla Cotter notched up 10 points as Cork held off a gutsy Wexford by 0-15 to 1-10 to make it two wins from two games in Division 1 of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues.
Linda Bolger was entitled to feel hard done by, as she finished with nine herself but Cotter had just a little more support from the likes of Amy O’Connor, Orla Cronin and Hannah Looney, which proved significant in the Group 1 tie at St Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy.
Wexford led early on with Bolger among the scorers but Cork shifted through the gears and their Cotter’s radar was in fine working order as they moved six clear.
The hosts rallied well in the second quarter however and were back to within a point at half time, trailing by just 0-9 to 1-5. The goal arrived with 27 minutes elapsed thanks to Jackie Quigley and buoyed by that score, Wexford finished strongly with points from Úna Leacy and Bolger (free).
The Models’ rearguard continued to struggle under significant pressure after the resumption though and that resulted in a number of frees. Cotter accepted the opportunities gleefully as Paudie Murray’s charges edged clear once more. Indeed an indication of how comfortable they were was that Cotter was satisfied to tap over the bar from a penalty.
To their credit, Wexford never gave up and Bolger shot some excellent points from placed balls to drag them back into contention but they needed another goal and the Rebel defenders were not in generous mood.
In the other Group 1 game, Tipperary finished strongly to put paid to Offaly by 0-16 to 0-7 at The Ragg. Just like in the first round tie against Wexford, Tipperary did all the early running against Offaly but unlike the opener, when they were pegged back and conceded an injury-time goal to lose, they maintained the upper hand all the way through.
Ereena Fryday and Jean Kelly’s midfield dominance was vital as Tipp moved 0-9 to 0-6 at half time, Michaela Morkan’s three pointed frees keeping her team in contention. Offaly only managed one point in the latter period however, and with Orla O’Dwyer, the returning Cáit Devane and Nicole Walsh (top scorer with 0-6) keeping the scoreboard ticking over, they proved deserved victors.
Had Offaly managed to goal from either the penalty or 20m free they were awarded, their fortunes may have turned but Tipp goalkeeper Caoimhe Bourke saved both.
In Group 2, Limerick built on securing a draw in their opener having been eight points behind to register their first win of the campaign at Dunganny against Meath, 2-10 to 0-2. The visitors led by 1-4 to 0-1 at the break, having had the benefit of a considerable wind in the first half but for some reason, the Royals never got going after the resumption.
That was all the more puzzling given how good they were in the opening period and but for conceding a goal from a long-distance free by Niamh Mulcahy that took an unfortunate deflection off a Meath hurley, they would have been fancied to gain a famous victory.
Of course Limerick’s excellence was the biggest reason for this as they made absolutely nothing of facing the elements and though Meath did launch a determined effort in the third quarter, it yielded nothing. Driven on by skipper Sarah Carey, John Tuohy’s Munster champions made them pay and Clíona Lane raised a green flag as they cruised away.
In the day’s late start, Waterford and Clare availed of the benign weather and wonderful Carriganore facility to provide patrons with a fantastic of hour of entertainment, with the sides deadlocked at the end on 2-13 apiece.
The Déise flew out of the traps and a Keisha Tobin goal established a four-point advantage after just six minutes. Andrea O’Keeffe and Niamh O’Dea pointed as Clare settled but Beth Carton, who finished with 1-8, was punishing any indiscretions by the away team to establish a six-point advantage.
Orlaith Duggan was denied a goal by the crossbar but she made no mistake just before the break, powering through the middle after a strong catch and hand-passing to the net to give Clare a lifeline, though still 1-9 to 1-6 in arrears at the change of ends.
It was nip and tuck after the restart but Niamh O’Dea’s goal moved the Bannerwomen ahead. Chloe Morey and O’Dea quickly made it a three-point game. Carton has established herself as one of the premier forwards in the land in a short period of time and she hit a goal and a point to wrest the advantage for Waterford once more.
It was Morey who had the final say however, landing a monster free from 60m to for her seventh point to grab a share of the spoils.