A whirlwind start and an outstanding contribution by Anais Curran set Wexford’s first team up for a 1-13 to 1-5 triumph over Kilkenny’s intermediates in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 2 quarter-final at Glynn Barntown.
That completes the line up for the Division 2 semi-finals, with Cork having defeated Galway by 1-13 to 0-10 in yesterday’s quarter-final, and Waterford and Antrim awaiting the pair prior to the weekend action. That three of the last four are competing in the All-Ireland senior championship this year – Cork’s second string being the odd ones out – is a testament to the rising standards of camogie.
Kilkenny battled hard but were always up against it taking on last year’s All-Ireland senior quarter-finalists, who had a goal and two points on the board after three minutes. The goal came from Mag Byrne and her side led by six by the time Asha McHardy got Kilkenny off the mark in the 11th minute.
That sparked the Cats’ best period of the game, as Shauna Treacy, Hannah Scott and McHardy raised further white flags and they were just two points behind at the interval, at 1-3 to 0-4.
The break gave Kevin Tattan a chance to talk to his players and initiate a reset, and they upped the tempo after the restart. Curran was in unstoppable form, from play and frees, while Leah Walsh also helped herself to a flurry of points against the overworked Kilkenny rearguard.
The Cats never stopped fighting though and a Scott goal in the 58th minute was due reward for their efforts as their thoughts now turn to the intermediate championship, where they look well placed to make a bold bid for honours.
Back in Division 1, Galway were already assured of a place in the final and Offaly focusing on a relegation decider but they had to clash to bring the group stages to a conclusion and it was the All-Ireland champions who prevailed against their committed rivals 2-21 to 1-8 in Kilbeacanty.
Newly-minted 2021 manager of the year, Cathal Murray’s team had ten different individual scorers, with the goals coming from Ciara Murphy and Ailish O’Reilly. O’Reilly, who was named an All-Star on Friday night, was the game’s top scorer with 1-3, 1-2 of which came from play. Mairéad Teehan shot four points from placed balls for Offaly, whose goal was provided by Siobhán Flannery.
Meanwhile, Westmeath defeated Roscommon 1-15 to 3-3 to win the Tesco All-Ireland minor B Shield. Anya Boyle struck a good point after some good interplay to give Westmeath the early lead but a minute later Ava Mulry was alert to pull first time after Siafra Finneran’s free was batted out and to goal for Roscommon.
Westmeath got back level but were rocked on their heels once more when Finneran picked herself up off the ground after being pushed in the back, to ram home the resultant penalty at the end of the opening quarter, Sally Bolger having done the spadework in the build-up.
But Westmeath continued to have the majority of the possession and chipped away at the deficit once more with two points from Grace Gallagher, bringing her tally to four, and an equaliser just on the short whistle by Áine Newman leaving it 0-6 to 2-0 at the change of ends.
Alanna Cogan put the Lakesiders back in front for the first time since Mulry’s early goal but again it didn’t last long, when the sliotar appeared to bounce cruelly off a defender’s heel back into the net, after Bolger’s free had been batted out.
The Leinster team shrugged off yet another setback and concentrated on keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Reanna Kennedy brought the teams level for the third time with a fantastic score and this time they were able to kick on. They were gone two ahead when Finneran finally registered her side’s first point, from a free and a goal from super sub Alex Elaurza in 52nd minute, from a powerful ground shot decided the verdict.