Wednesday 20 March 2019

Rebels will be hard pressed to skin Cats again

All Ireland Senior Camogie Final, Cork v Kilkenny, Sunday, September 9, Croke Park, 4.15pm

Cork camogie captain Aoife Murray with her Kilkenny counterpart Shelly Farrell pictured ahead of this weekend’s All Ireland senior camogie final at Croke Park. Photo by James Crombie/Inpho
Cork camogie captain Aoife Murray with her Kilkenny counterpart Shelly Farrell pictured ahead of this weekend’s All Ireland senior camogie final at Croke Park. Photo by James Crombie/Inpho

Diarmuid Sheehan

Cork head back to Croke Park this Sunday attempting to retain the All Ireland Senior Camogie title and in so doing claim their 28th All Ireland crown.

For the third year on the bounce, Kilkenny stand in the Rebels' way of national glory with the sides sharing the O'Duffy Cup between them since 2014 - Cork with three wins and Kilkenny with one.

Fresh from their hugely impressive demolition of Tipperary in the All Ireland semi-final, Cork head into the showpiece game with plenty of confidence and the favourites tag face firmly and deservedly around their collective necks.

Tipperary battled hard in the semi but ultimately Cork had too much winning out by twelve points, however, Kilkenny had a much closer scrape as they got through by just three points seeing off a highly fancied Galway side by 1-10 to 1-7.

The wins set up what many would have been seen by many as the perfect final as both these sides have impressed and dominated for half of this decade. Cork will likely go player to player at the back with the likes of Pamela Mackey sure to be assigned the job of holding Kilkenny's main score-getter at bay.

Players of the quality of Hannah Looney, Katrina Mackey, Orla Cotter and Ashling Thompson will all have a serious influence on Cork this weekend with the returning queen of the GAA, Briege Corkery, another likely to raise the roof off headquarters if she gets a run out this Sunday.

Other stars such as Amy O'Connor and last year's player of the final Orla Cronin will also be out to cause maximum damage to Kilkenny's dreams of glory.

On the bench, the likes of Linda Collins and her colleagues will probably give Cork something of advantage in the strength in depth stakes, but this one will be decided on many smaller margins than any one player's performance.

Few GAA sides in recent years can claim to know as much about each other than the two protagonists this weekend with the two most recent finals before this contested by them, but history will count for little this weekend as the teams go in search of their own pieces of GAA history.

Cork will go in as favourites because that is just the way it is. The county that has dominated the sport for the last 10 years are unlikely to be put as underdogs, particularly with the manner that they disposed of the Premier County just a few weeks back.

Cork were clinical the last day and made a very good Tipperary side look a million miles off the pace. Cork have power, particularly in the middle, but they also have plenty pace, a will to win that few can match as well as an unrivalled consistency that has put them in a position of strength in the sport.

All that said, Kilkenny will bring plenty to the party this Sunday and will likely be in this one right to the finish. The cats can't and won't be discounted by the girls in red, but they will have their work cut out for them if they are to take the All Ireland title back to Leinster.

Last year's final went all the way to the wire before Cork stole the win late on in the most dramatic of fashions with two late points from Gemma O'Connor and Julia White.

Kilkenny may be down 2-1 in recent All Ireland head-to-heads, but they are the current National League holders, a title they retained earlier this year after beating Cork in the last two finals before that.

If we have learned anything from this season's league final it is that again there is nothing to choose between the sides. Kilkenny looked to be running away with the title before Cork woke up and put the reigning champions to the sword - falling just short at the finish.

Kilkenny have had a tough campaign to this point however it mirrors the 2016 campaign where they eventually came out on top. Quality hurlers such as Denise Gaule, Edwina Keane, Danielle Morrissey, Aoife Doyle, Kellyanne Doyle and Jacqui Frisby will all have an impact this weekend and while some of those names might not be familiar to some, they are all top-quality players that will have been pinpointed by Cork's management team.

Kilkenny are a side that wont need a serious team talk, or any outside motivational speakers to get them up for this. The Cats have realistic ambitions about being the best in the land and this will not only be their chance to secure that title but in so doing they can wrong the rights of last year's pain.

So, the big question, who will win the Liberty Insurance All Ireland senior Camogie Final of 2018? Well, Cork of course. But if recent match-ups are anything to go by then it will be by less than a goal.