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Tipp end 15-year famine to set up Very League Division 1A final clash with champions Galway

Sat 30th Mar

Daragh Ó Conchúir

County, Latest

Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir
Tipperary will end a 15-year wait to appear in a national senior final when they line out against Galway in the Very Camogie League Division 1A decider at Croke Park on April 14.

Denis Kelly’s charges accounted for Clare by 4-19 to 0-7 at Cusack Park to confirm their qualification as table toppers on score difference, and with Galway getting the better of All-Ireland champions Cork by 0-14 to 0-9 at Duggan Park, the Tribeswomen are 70 minutes or so from joining an elite crop of teams to garner top division honours for a third season on the trot.

Tipp have had a number of agonising reverses when closing in on a return to the big stage but with a youthful Clare side losing their four games to this juncture, anything but a victory for the visitors would have been a huge shock.

And that was how events unfolded, with first-half goals from Grace O’Brien and Karen Kennedy putting the issue to bed by the interval, at which stage the Blue and Golds held sway by 2-8 to 0-3.

It was one-way traffic in the second half, as Tipp played with freedom. Eimear Heffernan raised another green flag before O’Brien nabbed her second major. Thus ends a famine since the county’s representatives lost the League final in 2009, despite the best efforts of future All-Star Mary Ryan, who made her first appearance of the season after illness and remains an integral part of the panel this term.

The result confirmed Clare’s relegation to Division 1B.

Losses to Tipp meant that Galway and Cork were essentially in a winner-takes-all clash, although a draw would have been sufficient for the home team. In the end, apart from conceding the first score from a free to Amy O’Connor, who finished with five points, the Maroons held the upper hand.

Carrie Dolan punished indiscipline in the Rebel defence with four converted frees and the vice-captain continued to turn the screw throughout as she totted up a personal tally of ten points.

It was 0-8 to 0-5 at the interval and though Clíona Healy and O’Connor raised white flags in the third quarter for Cork, points from Dolan, Aoife Donohue and Orlaith McGrath stretched the gap.

A save by Fiona Ryan from Sorcha McCartan in the 44th minute was a key moment, particularly as points by Aoife Healy and O’Connor halved the deficit approaching the hour but Galway finished strongly with three points, Dolan splitting the posts either side of a Donohue effort from play, to remove all doubt.

The south-east local derby was won by Kilkenny, who outgunned Waterford by 2-10 to 0-13 in an entertaining tie at the SETU Arena.

Four points from Beth Carton gave the Déise a two-point lead approaching the change of ends but a goal just before the short whistle from Caoimhe Keher Murtagh was a vital score and Kilkenny always had their noses in front from that juncture.

Wexford and Dublin will contest the Division 1B final, to be held on April 13. The Model County’s finest had already secured their berth with a 100 per cent record and so the 3-11 to 1-15 defeat by Limerick at Mick Neville Park was not impactful in the big scheme.

The teams did produce a cracker however, with Limerick overturning a three-point interval deficit to prevail, Caoimhe Costelloe adding two goals to her six points from placed balls to earn the spoils. Ciara O’Connor slotted eight points for Wexford, with Shelly Kehoe’s contribution of four points from play notable.

Dublin defeated Antrim by 0-16 to 0-9 to give them a chance of a rare League double, the juniors having bagged the Division 3B spoils seven days ago.

The Division 2A final, which will be part of a double header with the 1A decider on April 14, will involve Westmeath and Derry.

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