By Daragh Ó Conchúir
CORK came out on top of the latest battle with Kilkenny by 1-13 to 0-9 in Walsh Park in Waterford to book a place in the Division 2 Final of the Littlewoods Irelands Camogie Leagues. They will be joined in the decider by Westmeath, who saw off Dublin by 3-10 to 1-6 in Clane’s Conneff Park.
Westmeath’s win was a repeat of their success over Dublin in the All-Ireland Premier Junior Final last September but it was more comprehensive on this occasion, while it represents a significant achievement to reach the National League’s second tier decider.
They were dominant from the outset, and could even afford a return of one point from three penalties. Pamela Greville had one saved after just four minutes but undeterred, the Westmeath player of the decade was to have a considerable influence on proceedings.
Westmeath were three clear thanks to scores from Mairéad McCormack, Denise McGrath and Greville (free), when the Raharney sharpshooter had another opportunity from a free after 11 minutes and she buried the sliotar to the back of the net.
It got worse for Dublin when the excellent Róisín Drohan had to depart through injury. Shane Plowman’s charges needed something quick and it was Aoife Dooley who provided the boost with a goal on 16 minutes, after an excellent pass from Caragh Dawson.
Westmeath were relentless though, Sheila McGrath, Denise McGrath with an absolute whopper, and Caoimhe McCrossan making it 1-7 to 1-0 at half time.
Johnny Greville’s outfit kept the pedal to the metal in the second half, Aoife Boyle, Pamela Greville stretching the margin to nine.
Aoibhe Dillon finally got Dublin’s first point after 38 minutes and repeated the trick from distance soon after but it was Pamela Greville that snuffed out any threat of a dramatic comeback when nudging the sliotar over the line after a scramble in the Dublin area. Sheila McGrath added another goal as Westmeath finished in style.
Cork laid the foundations for their triumph with a magnificent defensive effort in the first half, led by skipper Sarah Harrington and Lauren Callanan. They faced into a very strong wind in that opening period but thanks to the stout rearguard effort, led at the interval by 0-7 to 0-6.
Keeva McCarthy, Katie Wall, Caroline Sugrue, Rachel O’Shea and Niamh O’Callaghan were among the scorers for the Rebels, with Edel Coonan and Margaret Hoynes on the mark for Kilkenny.
With the wind aiding their efforts after the restart, Cork put some daylight between them and the Cats, by virtue of a point from Sugrue, three long-range efforts from frees by McCarthy and a brilliant score by Katelyn Hickey. And when Rachel O’Callaghan hand-passed to the Kilkenny net seven minutes from time, it was all over.
Meanwhile, Kildare that will make the drop after ending a forgettable campaign with a heavy defeat by Down in the Division 2 relegation play-off at the Meath Centre of Excellece in Dunganny . The Ulster girls had far too much firepower for the Lilies, securing their Division 2 status by virtue of a 3-10 to 0-5 scoreline.
The Clonduff forward had the sliotar in the net in the opening minute and that gave her team an immediate boost. They settled down and worked hard at the back to keep Kildare restricted to just two points in the first half hour. Graffin's second goal was a well-finished team move in the 20thminute and that helped them to a 2-7 to 0-2 interval lead.
It was a bit tighter during the second half and there had been just two points each by the time Orla Gribben rifled in Down’s third goal to end the contest.