Three cheers for Galway girls: Tribeswomen tame Cats to claim third title
Record attendance as 'clubs absolutely stepped up'
The O'Duffy Cup is heading west after Galway's camogie team held their focus and determination to become All-Ireland champions for a third time.
Three first-half goals saw the Tribeswomen forge an unbeatable path towards victory at Croke Park, despite a valiant effort by Kilkenny.
It looked at times in the second half as if the Cats were going to edge their way back into the match, point by point, but the momentum remained with Galway. The taste of victory was in the air before the final whistle blew leaving them six points ahead.
The final scoreline was 3-14 to Kilkenny 0-17, with the roars from the crowd throughout the match a testament to the excitement on the pitch.
Attendance at the event set a new record with 24,730 people travelling to see the final.
Sinéad McNulty, chief executive of the Camogie Association, told the Irish Independent she was absolutely delighted with the turnout.
"Our clubs absolutely stepped up and attended, and all of our members. We had a fantastic crowd and a brilliant atmosphere," she said.
Among the Galway supporters was Claire Kilroy, from Caltra, who travelled to the match with Dervla Burke, Sharon Fay and Helen Glynn, all teachers from Coláiste Bhaile Chláir, outside Galway city. They are colleagues of two team members, Lorraine Ryan and Aoife Donohue, who both teach English and geography at the school, and were delighted with the result.
Ms Kilroy, deputy principal at the school, said: "We are so proud of them, seeing how they excelled. So many of our students look up to them. We met so many of our students there, and they are just unbelievable role models for them.
"We have been cheering them on throughout the week, we have had posters up, we have had campaigns on our social media, and so many of our staff attended.
"The two of them are so driven, they have such passion for their county. It was a real privilege to travel to see them and see them bring home the O'Duffy Cup."
While there was disappointment for the supporters of the losing team, many agreed the match had been hard fought.
Aisling Dawson, from Kilkenny city, travelled to the game as part of a busload from the Graiguenamanagh Camogie Club, along with her daughter Freya (8).
"It was a good game, and all the children enjoyed it," she said. "Galway were just the hungrier team, I think. The minute they came out, I knew they were full of energy and wanting to get going.
"We thoroughly enjoyed it even though it wasn't the best result on the day. Kilkenny put in a great effort, every one of them. We will see them for the homecoming."
One of Galway's best weapons yesterday bore a 'Kilkenny' surname. Niamh Kilkenny was voted player of the match and paid tribute to the management team, including manager Cathal Murray.
When the final whistle went, 'Galway Girl' blared through the loudspeakers, which was apt given how many of the supporters lost their heart to this team yesterday.