Dublin got the Shane O’Brien era off to the perfect start by winning their Irish Daily Star National League Division 1 opener against Derry in comfortable fashion, on a 1-11 to 0-3 scoreline.
The game was relocated to the Bray Emmets pitch when heavy rain made playing two games on Parnell Park untenable but it made no difference to the Dubs as they stormed out of the traps with a fourth minute goal from Siobhán Kehoe, who was found with a brilliant pass by Emma Flanagan.
The ageless Louise O’Hara was excellent for Dublin in the first half and shot two points from play as O’Brien’s girls went in at half time, leading by 1-4 to 0-0.
Derry would have been looking for a quick start to the second half with a strong wind at their backs but instead, O’Hara showed that she retains all her ability and appetite by flashing over a brace of points herself, bringing her tally to four from play.
Karen Kielt finally got Derry off the mark in the 10th minute of the second half and they tried to build up a head of steam, only to be denied by two fabulous saves by Síle Nic Coitir.
Ali Twomey thundered into proceedings in the latter period, striking two lovely points from play and finishing, like O’Hara, with a personal tally of four points (two from frees).
Meanwhile, Limerick recovered from a slow start to snatch a share of the spoils against Galway in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe. The hosts had the elements in their favour in the initial period and with Niamh McGrath converting three frees led by 0-5 to 0-0.
Karen O’Leary opened Limerick’s account in the 22nd minute and the game’s outstanding player, Niamh Mulcahy reduced the deficit further and though McGrath landed a fourth free, the lead was just four at half time, 0-6 to 0-2.
Galway didn’t score again in the second half though, as a Limerick defence in which Judith Mulcahy stood out held firm, with Deboarh Murphy having done her job well as sweeper in the first half.
Niamh Mulcahy converted three frees to leave just one between the teams before Síle Moynihan stuck her foot out to save Niamh Hanniffy’s goalbound shot. A goal then would probably have secured the victory but instead, the magnificent Mulcahy hit the equaliser and it finished 0-6 apiece.
Offaly’s goal touch earned them the victory at Belmont against a Tipperary team overly reliant on Cáit Devane for scores. Niamh Larkin had a goal after 10 minutes to give Offaly the early lead at Belmont but Devane was in lethal form and the sides were level at the break, 1-4 to 0-7.
Mairead Jennings came off the bench to rattle the Tipperary net however, and with Tipperary unable to make much headway in the second half, it finished 2-8 to 0-8.
Cork have enjoyed countless close tussles with Clare in the past few seasons and it was more of the same for the All-Ireland champions at the Cork Camogie Grounds on Saturday. Paudie Murray’s wards lost to the Bannerwomen in the semi-final of last year’s IDS League but on this occasion, they held the upper hand to bag a first-round victory.
Orla Cotter and Katriona Mackey were amongst the scorers as they led by 0-5 to 0-3 at half time. Clare kept in touch thanks to some Chloe Morey points – the sharpshooter was Clare’s only provider of scores.
They couldn’t get the goal they needed to turn things around however, and instead, after some typically direct play by Mackey, Amy O’Connor found the net at the other end. Cotter top-scored for Cork with four points, while Mackey added three in a satisfactory start to the season for the Rebels.
In Division 2, Laois caused something of a surprise by proving too strong for an admittedly understrength Kildare by 1-11 to 0-5 in Abbeyleix. Kildare had come out on top when the sides met in the 2013 All-Ireland premier junior final and the Lilies had reached that year’s Division 2 final.
Laois held the upper hand for most of the game and made that superiority county in the second half. Louise Mahony scored six points for the O’Moores, while minor, Michelle Holmes scored the goal which ensured a comfortable conclusion.
Waterford were well on top against Tipperary’s second team at Carriganore and had Beth Carton in outstanding form, scoring six points from play in the first half alone. That pushed the Déise into a 0-13 to 0-4 interval lead and they were never threatened thereafter.
Dawn Power scored a goal on the way to racking up a tally of 1-4 and though Carton only added one more point, Trish Jackman finished with six of her own. Tipperary didn’t register a score in the second half and it finished 2-21 to 0-4.
Galway edged a 1-8 to 1-7 win over Antrim in Ballymena thanks to a Tara Rutledge goal. Rutledge was the major scoring contributor for the Tribeswomen, scoring 1-3.
Westmeath announced their opening season in Division 2 in notable fashion by beating Wexford’s intermediates 0-9 to 0-7. It was 0-3 apiece at one stage but with Pamela Greville showing well, the Lakesiders edged the verdict.