THERE was no doubt about the standout tie in this weekend’s Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues Division 1, as Wexford and Tipperary faced off at St Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy in a repeat of last year’s thrilling All-Ireland quarter-final, where the Premier had their more fancied opponents on the rack only to be reeled in at the death.
They were denied on that occasion by an injury-time point from Kate Kelly but this time around, it was their turn to strike the dagger blow in the supplementary period to record a 1-9 to 0-11 win and claim the prized scalp of a side that had inflicted a first defeat for 10 months on Kilkenny two weeks ago.
It was high drama as Tipperary trailed by two points when they were awarded a penalty in the third minute of injury time after Miriam Campion was fouled and Nicole Walsh stepped up to take it. The Borris-Ileigh sharpshooter had blazed wide from an earlier penalty but she showed impressive composure to supply the definitive strike, although Mags D’Arcy and Ciara Storey both went close to denying her on the Wexford line.
The home team were heavily reliant on Linda Bolger, who scored 10 points, with Shelley Kehoe providing the other. Walsh provided 1-6 for Tipperary, who were well in touch at the break trailing by just 0-6 to 0-4.
Although Orla O’Dwyer and Mairead Teehan were also doing well in the half-forward line, it looked like Bolger’s freetaking would decide the verdict but Walsh had the final say.
Former Kilkenny hurling goalkeeper David Herity brought his Dublin team to Tom Ryall Park but it wasn’t a homecoming to remember as first-half goals from Davina Tobin and Katie Power and nine points from Michelle Quilty helped last year’s double champions ease to victory by 2-14 to 0-4.
Tobin goaled in the third minute after Aisling Dunphy had raised the opening white flag, and though Ali Maguire shot two points in reply, Dublin were heavily punished for defensive indiscipline by Quilty, who converted three frees and then followed up with another point from play. Power found the net just before the break to make it 2-5 to 0-3.
It was one-way traffic after the resumption as Quilty racked up another five points, while Power, Dunphy, Kellyann Doyle and Jenny Reddy also contributed. Maguire registered Dublin’s only second-half score but it was an impressive response by Kilkenny after their loss to Wexford.
In the final Group 1 game, Cork stayed top when making it three from three. A stunning second-half performance was the key to their 3-19 to 0-8 success at Carriganore. Only two points separated them at the break (1-6 to 0-7) but Cork cut loose after the restart to put themselves in a very strong position ahead of crunch ties against Kilkenny and Wexford.
Once more, Beth Carton stood out for Waterford, scoring seven points including two from play, while Niamh Rockett added another pair. But with Katrina Mackey (1-6, 0-4 frees) and Linda Collins (1-5 from play) on fire up front, Pamela Mackey at her brilliant best in defence and Ashling Thompson hoovering up possession, there was no holding Paudie Murray's crew at bay.
In Group 2, Galway maintained their inexorable progress, and Ailish O’Reilly her scoring exploits, the Oranmore-Maree markswoman providing 1-10 in the 3-15 to 1-5 defeat of top-tier newcomers Meath. Galway had the wind in the first half but didn’t score for 15 minutes and led by just three at the break, 0-after Grace Coleman’s overhead just before half time making it 0-9 to 1-3.
Galway brought on Ann Marie Starr and Niamh Kilkenny at half time and Starr was involved as Niamh Hannify goaled in the opening minute. Jane Dolan and Sinead Hackett pointed for beath but two goals in last six minutes from Laura Loughnane and O’Reilly confirmed the result.
In the group’s other game, Limerick finished with the last three points to keep their semi-final hopes on track, beating Offaly by 0-15 to 0-12.
In Division 2, Derry were 3-15 to 0-5 victors over Down. Niamh Mallon was the sole scorer for the Mourne women but their rivals had scoring poiwer all over the pitch. Karen Kielt led the way with a goal and eight points, while Eimear McGuigan and Mary Hegarty added goals.
Orla Hanrick shot five points as Kilkenny overcame Wexford 2-11 to 2-7. The goals from Mags Fennelly and Niamh Bambrick ensured that Aoife Sheil’s brace of majors counted for nought, while the last Group 1 game was a low-scoring affair as Eleanor Treacy’s four points edged Carlow to a 0-5 to 0-3 win over Laois.
In Group 2, Keeva McCarthy fired nine points, Katelyn Hickey and Hayley Ryan two goals each and Caroline Sugrue another major as Cork blitzed Armagh 5-13 to 0-5, while a Ciara Murphy goal 90 seconds into added time snatched a 1-9 to 0-11 win for Galway over a Westmeath team that was propelled by Dinah Loughlin’s seven points.
Kildare secured a badly-needed 0-16 to 0-9 win over Antrim as Siobhán Hurley shot nine points, while Róisín O’Connell repeated her good form since being restored to the attack after a couple of seasons between the posts with three. Nicole O’Neill provided all bar one point of Antrim’s tally.
In Division 3, Kelley Hopkins contributed seven points but it wasn’t enough to deny Kerry a 3-7 to 0-8 success, the goals from Aoife Behan, Olivia Dineen and Ann Marie Leen proving significant. Dublin overcame the Clare challenge by 1-10 to 1-3.