Clifford strike seals Kilkenny final spot
Kilkenny 2-11 Dublin 0-9: All-Ireland SNR Camogie semi-final
Kilkenny had just a little too much know-how for Dublin at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday, but it wasn't until substitute Jenny Clifford scored a goal in the third minute of injury time that the champions could be completely assured of a place in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie final.
Managed by former Kilkenny hurling goalkeeper David Herity, the capital's representatives have been the story of this year's championship and the Kilkenny manager Ann Downey and player of the match Anne Dalton heaped praise on them for their efforts.
"I said beforehand that we knew we were in a battle and in fairness they were unbelievable," said Downey.
"We expected that. It was a great game and we're just delighted to come out at the end of it.
"There was no room, they fought for every ball. We could have had a score or two (more) in the first half but that was just testament to the great backs Dublin have. The work David has done with them, they really have come on in leaps and bounds in the last year or two."
Downey also had a word for Dalton, who is habitually among the best players for the Noresiders, sweeping between the defensive lines and getting her side's attacking game under way.
"Anne is a real leader. There were a few hard words at half-time and Anne was a giver out of those hard words but she always leads by example. She's a great player who just drives this team on."
Dalton insisted that Kilkenny were prepared for the intensity and ferocity of Dublin's work-rate, and paid no heed to loose talk of one-way traffic.
"Most people were saying that it should be an easy run but we played Dublin three times already this year. We played them in May (in the Leinster championship) and they brought us to extra-time. We know the quality team they have. What they have done this year is absolutely unbelievable.
"We were lucky to push it over the line. There's some aspects of our game we have to look at but we're just delighted with the win."
They got off to a dream start when Denise Gaule planted a shot to the corner of the net from a penalty, after Áine Woods had hauled down Miriam Walsh after two minutes.
They could not build on that though and instead, Dublin scored four of the next five points, with Siobhán Kehoe a constant threat and Aisling Maher also visible. However, Kilkenny did score the last three points of the half and led by 1-5 to 0-4 at half-time.
Kehoe and Faye McCarthy halved the deficit for the Dubs early in the second half but points from Julieann Malone, Anna Farrell, Michelle Quilty and Meighan Farrell opened up a seven-point gap.
Maher shot two more points to bring her tally to six but Clifford had the last say with her rocket of a finish after good work by fellow sub Jenny Reddy to remove all doubt.
Scorers - Kilkenny: D Gaule 1-2 (0-1f), D Morrissey 0-3 (1f); J Reddy 1-0; A Farrell, M Quilty, M Farrell, J Malone, M Walsh, K Power 0-1 each. Dublin: A Maher 0-6 (4fs); S Kehoe 0-2, F McCarthy 0-1 (f).
Kilkenny - E Kavanagh; C Foley, D Tobin, G Walsh; C Dormer, A Dalton, A Dunphy; M Farrell, A Farrell; J Malone, K Power, D Gaule; S Farrell, M Walsh, D Morrissey. Subs: M Quilty for Power inj (h-t), J Clifford for M Walsh (56), M Teehan for Foley (57), J Reddy for Malone (60+1), S Kent for Dunphy (60+1)
Dublin - F McCarthy; A Woods, E O'Brien, G Quinn; H Hegarty, A Carolan, E M Elliott; M Twomey, E McCarthy; A Twomey, A Maguire, E McGovern; E Flanagan, A Maher, S Kehoe. Subs: C Donnelly for Flanagan (43), M Moynihan for Maguire (44), D Mullaney for Twomey (47), E O'Leary for McGovern (58)
Ref - R Kelly (Kildare)