By Daragh Ë Conch·ir
The goals rained in at the Donaghmore Ashbourne club in Meath on Sunday, as Wexford returned to the type of form that has made them camogie’s top dogs in the past 18 months.
JJ Doyle’s charges produced a magnificent display that was close to their best of the season and certainly the best of their campaign to date in the All-Ireland senior camogie championship in association with RT+ Sport.
Having not been at their most clinical and energetic since the defence of their crown got under way, Wexford finally clicked and it was Tipperary who suffered to the tune of a 5-11 to 0-10 scoreline.
The champions were bristling with intent from the very start and Una Leacy had a goal on the board after just 18 seconds to set the tone. The game was over by the end of the opening quarter, as Wexford led by 3-3 to no score. Tipperary improved marginally thereafter, with Cora Hennessy slotting two points but further goals from Lenny Holahan, Evelyn Quigley and Ursula Jacob had Wexford leading by 4-7 to 0-4 at half time.
Clare Grogan notched up a couple of points from frees for the blue and gold in the second half but Wexford were cruising at this stage and Leacy plundered her second goal in a powerful individual display to set the seal on a commanding team effort.
A wonderful contribution of six points from play by Denise Gaule, allied with a 60th minute goal by championship debutant Grace Walsh was required for Kilkenny to shake off Clare at Nowlan Park.
Ann Downey’s side had seven points to spare at the end, 2-15 to 2-8, but the ever-improving Banner girls certainly gave the home team plenty to think about.
Clare led at the interval by 2-4 to 1-6, having had a perfect start due to Naomi Carroll’s second minute goal. -ine Fahey hit back eight minutes later but when 18-year-old centre-back, Chloe Morey’s free from distance flew all the way to the Kilkenny net, it was the visitors who led at the break.
Gaule opened up splendidly in the second half but as Claire McMahon brought her tally to six points from frees, Clare were still in touch until Walsh slid in the final goal. A younger sister of Kilkenny hurling legend Tommy, the substitute profited from some good work by fellow subs Lizzie Lyng and Marie Dargan to put the tie to bed.
Cork cut loose on Offaly in Birr to give evidence of their continuing improvement as the campaign progresses. The sides were evenly matched in the opening 10 minutes but two goals from the brilliant Katrina Mackey broke the hosts’ resistance and they cruised to a 6-27 to 0-10 victory.
Joe O’Brien’s charges were extremely strong throughout the field. Mackey finished up with 2-4 from play, while Joanne Casey notched up 1-3, Gemma O’Connor 1-2 and Jennifer O’Leary 0-6. SÝle Burns and Linda Dargan completed the goal rout.
Tina Hannon was prominent for Offaly at midfield but the Faithful forwards struggled to break down the Cork defence, although Elaine Dermody did slot three points.
Galway continued their good form with a 2-18 to 0-6 win over a youthful Dublin team at Naomh Mearn¾g. Veronica Curtin sent them on their way with a seventh minute goal and though the hosts improved after the resumption, Galway were comfortable throughout.
Team captain, Brenda Hanney was impressive in her new posting at full-forward, contributing five points, while Curtin added three points to her goal and Aislinn Connolly came on as a sub to score a goal just before the final whistle. Sarah Ryan battled hard at full-forward for Dublin, while midfielder Alison Maguire weighed in with three points from frees.