Tipperary have qualified for the Division 1 Semi-Finals of the Irish Daily Star National League by virtue of their nine-point win over Dublin in The Ragg and Clare’s 15-point reverse at the hands of a thriving Galway at the Clooney GAA grounds.
They will play Kilkenny in the last four but defending champions Galway, who topped Group 1 with five straight wins, have to wait to find out who their opponents will be as All-Ireland victors Cork must take on Limerick in a play-off next Saturday to determine the runners-up position in a remarkably competitive Group 2.
It has been a long time since the once all-powerful Premier County sat at the top table of camogie, their last national title coming 12 years ago, when they won the All-Ireland to complete a famous league and championship double. It is too early to say whether or not that spell in the wilderness is coming to an end but the underage work of recent seasons is clearly beginning to bear fruit.
The first half was very evenly contested and the sides were separated only by a goal from Jenny Grace, going in at the break on 1-5 to 0-5.
It was notable though that Grace was unerring in punishing the indiscipline of Dublin defenders from placed balls and she finished with 1-8 of the Tipperary tally in their 2-12 to 1-6 success, five of those points coming from frees.
Orla Beagan did score a goal following a mix-up in the home defence in the 42nd minute to give the visitors some hope but it was the only real slip from the excellent Tipp back division.
Meanwhile, Mairead Teehan drove them on from midfield in very difficult weather conditions and when substitute Róisín Howard drove to the net with five minutes remaining, the result was secured.
Clare won the first two games of their campaign but defeat to Tipperary has sparked a horror run of three defeats, climaxing in the 4-11 to 1-5 reverse at the hands of Galway.
Aoife Donoghue, Caitriona Murphy, Ailish O’Reilly and Shauna Healy raised green flags for Ollie Bergin’s team, while Aoife Callanan slotted six points. As has become customary, Chloe Morey offered the only real threat for Clare as she scored all bar one of the Bannerwomen’s points.
A victory would have put Limerick through group winners at Kilkenny’s expense and indeed, had they lost by even one point less, they would have progressed as runners-up, as the three teams finished on nine points each. Ann Downey’s outfit advance as table-toppers by virtue of a vastly superior score difference of +35 points, with the other too deadlocked on +20 points each.
Certainly, Niamh Mulcahy couldn’t have done much more for the Shannonsiders, scoring 12 points in the 2-12 to 0-14 defeat but it was Ann Dalton that provided the most significant contribution, scoring 2-2 to edge the Noresiders home in Bruff.
Elsewhere, Waterford secured their first wine in the top tier as they made the lengthy journey to Owenbeg pay with a 3-12 to 2-9 win over Derry. It was certainly a memorable day for the Déise women, whose game was the first of a National League double-header, with the Oak Leaf County’s senior footballers also taking on Meath.
The campaign finished on a high for Offaly too as they saw off Wexford in St Brendan’s Park by 1-12 to 0-13. Michaela Morkan shot seven points for the hosts while Arlene Watkins pounced for a goal.
In Division 2, Meath will play Carlow and Kildare will take on Galway in the semi-finals. Much like Division 1, there was one ultra-competitive group with three teams finishing on 12 points, having recorded four wins each.
After losing to Carlow last week, Kildare were in danger of not advancing but thanks to 3-8 from Susie O'Carroll and a 27-point victory over Down (6-17 to 1-5), they topped the table on +43. Carlow managed one better by trouncing Wexford by 6-14 to 0-4, which meant that Laois missed out despite a 0-9 to 1-2 victory over Kilkenny.
Meanwhile in Division 3, Armagh will take on Dublin and Kerry will play Roscommon in the last four. Following on from the county's hurlers enjoying league glory yesterday, the Orchard's camogs have been in flying form. They had the weekend off, having already won all four of their games and been certain of the first seed status.
They will play Dublin, who lost to Roscommon by 1-6 to 0-1, with the Connacht girls due to face Kerry, who had a resounding victory over Cavan, helped in no small part by three goals from Aileen Maunsell.