Wednesday 25 April 2018

Cork survive late rally to reach showpiece

Cork 2-9 Galway 1-9

Sarah Dervan of Galway in action against Orla Cronin of Cork Photo: Sportsfile
Sarah Dervan of Galway in action against Orla Cronin of Cork Photo: Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Cork withstood a frantic last-quarter rally from Galway to return to the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie final for the fourth consecutive season.

Last year's runners-up looked to be cruising when points from Katrina Mackey and Hannah Looney within two minutes of the resumption pushed them eight clear. Astonishingly, however, they went 28 minutes without a score and only managed one further point as Galway, driven forward by Aoife Donohue, edged back into proceedings.

Eimear O'Sullivan of Cork in action against Ann Marie Starr of Galway Photo: Sportsfile
Eimear O'Sullivan of Cork in action against Ann Marie Starr of Galway Photo: Sportsfile

Cork lost Gemma O'Connor to an ankle injury in the 46th minute and three minutes later, Galway's powerful sub Niamh Hanniffy hit a goal to reduce the margin to three.

Donohue slotted a free nine minutes from the end of regulation time and Galway were making all of the running but Cork defended magnificently, Rena Buckley, Chloe Sigerson and Ashling Thompson ensuring that the Tribeswomen would not find another goal.

Katrina Mackey finally ended the Rebels's drought right on the hour and despite five minutes of injury-time, they held out for a dramatic victory.

Galway's management pulled a rabbit out of the hat when opting to move their leading scorer Ailish O'Reilly on Gemma O'Connor to prevent the St Finbarr's star from exerting her normal influence.

Aoife Donohue, right, and Heather Cooney of Galway are consoled by Ashling Thompson of Cork Photo: Sportsfile
Aoife Donohue, right, and Heather Cooney of Galway are consoled by Ashling Thompson of Cork Photo: Sportsfile

Orla Cotter appeared to be the chief beneficiary as she got on a lot of ball, while displaying customary accuracy from frees.

Cork would have only had themselves to blame had they lost as they wasted four gilt-edged goal chances, including two early in the second half.

In the end though, they did breach the Galway defence twice and that proved to be the difference between the sides.

The first came as Aoife Murray sent a bullet of a penalty straight and high to the net in the 11th minute, after Niamh McCarthy was dragged down by Rebecca Hennelly.

Cork were well on top for much of that opening period and struck a significant blow just before the change of ends when Cotter scored a splendid solo goal. The rangy St Catherine's player reached high above Róisín Black to fetch Murray's long delivery on the 40m line and cut inside.

She got a sliver of luck when the sliotar rebounded to her after her attempted pass to Hannah Looney was mis-hit and poked to the net, and while O'Reilly pointed straight after, it was 2-6 to 0-6 at half-time.

Galway had the wind in the second half but Looney and Mackey stretched the gap to eight and seemed bound for a comfortable passage to the final.

Galway showed courage late on but they had left themselves too much to do.

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