Kilkenny and Galway to do battle in top-tier decider
Kilkenny and Galway will cross swords in the Camogie League Division 1 final after coming through two dramatic semi-finals.
The Noresiders were involved in a titanic tussle with Tipperary at Carriganore yesterday and needed extra time before taking the spoils by 2-13 to 0-15.
Ann Downey's charges found another level in the supplementary period and goals from Denise Gaule and Julieann Malone finally saw off Tipperary, although Jenny Grace would have made it interesting late on had her penalty gone under, rather than over, the crossbar.
It was one of 11 points in a herculean effort by Grace that mirrored the endeavour of her Tipperary team-mates. Tipp led by 0-6 to 0-5 at half-time, with the Fryday sisters Ereena and Sarah prominent in deep-lying roles. Kilkenny responded by moving Ann Dalton from centre-back to midfield and introducing Sarah Ann Quinlan. Ultimately, those switches proved significant.
It took a pointed '45 by Grace to make it 0-9 each at the end of normal time but when Gaule scored a goal (she finished with 1-5) there was some daylight between the teams for the first time. Malone found the Tipperary net in the second period of extra time and there was no way back for the blue and gold.
Extra time looked on the cards in St Brendan's Park, Birr too on Saturday, only for Niamh McGrath to slot an injury-time point to edge Galway past an unlucky Limerick by 1-11 to 0-13.
The champions looked sharp from the outset and Aoife Donoghue latched on to a dropping ball for an early goal. Niamh Richardson thundered into the game at centre-back for Limerick though, while the strong-running Karen O'Leary and Deborah Murphy forced the concession of frees. The prodigious Niamh Mulcahy made no mistake with these opportunities and she finished with 11 points in total, including three from play.
John Tuohy's crew led by 0-7 to 1-2 at half-time and Mulcahy soon stretched that to three but Galway showed their experience, with the magnificent Niamh Kilkenny running the show on the way to scoring four points from play.
The Tribeswomen moved two points clear but Mulcahy came back with three more scores and the third, from almost 65m out, had Limerick ahead with normal time almost up.
Substitute Molly Dunne equalised before McGrath completed the smash-and-grab victory.
The Division 2 final will be contested by Meath and Galway. Jane Dolan was the scoring heroine for the Royals in Clane, shooting six points in the 0-14 to 1-9 defeat of Carlow.
Rachel Monaghan contributed five points as Galway pulled off a surprise win over Kildare by 0-13 to 1-9 at The Ragg.