Sport Camogie

Saturday 19 January 2019

Hannify's effort ensures comfortable opener for Galway

The Liberty Insurance Player of the Match Award for the Galway v Clare is presented to Niamh Kilkenny of Galway by John Coffey, the head of communications at Liberty Insurance
The Liberty Insurance Player of the Match Award for the Galway v Clare is presented to Niamh Kilkenny of Galway by John Coffey, the head of communications at Liberty Insurance

A lot of eyes were on Galway as they got the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland camogie championship under way with a 1-16 to 0-9 win against Clare at Pearse Stadium.

The westerners have a fifth manager in four seasons after Tony O'Donovan was replaced by Cathal Murray at the end of the National League. His reign began well as they garnered the Gael Linn Cup representing Connacht at interprovincial level, and he will have been delighted with this victory against a Clare unit that had hoped to provide a sterner challenge.

Galway enjoyed the ideal start, with a goal from Niamh Hannify followed by points from Rebecca Hennelly and Niamh McGrath. The visitors showed commendable composure to steady the ship, thanks to points from Clare Hehir, Chloe Morey and Niamh O'Dea, to make it 1-4 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter.

Galway had a plethora of scoring options, however, and a couple of points by Carrie Dolan helped them establish a 1-8 to 0-5 lead at the break.

Clare had the wind at their backs in the second half and Morey scored a nice point, but Galway had all the answers, with Dolan, player-of-the-match Niamh Kilkenny and Ailish O'Reilly keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

Sub Caitriona Cormican was denied a goal by a brilliant Lauren Solan save, while Clare were reduced to 14 after Eimear Kelly was sent off late on, but they were already resigned to an opening-round defeat by that juncture.

In the other Group 1 game, Kilkenny produced a stunning second-half performance to record a resounding 2-18 to 0-11 win over Limerick in Bruff.

The Shannonsiders were another side with a new manager, former hurling star Declan Nash stepping in after John Tuohy stood down, and bringing with him Mark Dunne and Niall Corcoran, who were in charge of Galway last year.

They had beaten Kilkenny in the league and began very well, opening up a 0-7 to 0-3 lead after 26 minutes, with their long-time talisman Niamh Mulcahy hitting six of those scores. A couple of points from Davina Tobin enabled Kilkenny to get back within two at half time, 0-8 to 0-6.

The Noresiders found another level after the resumption, keeping Limerick to three points while running riot themselves. Michelle Quilty, Shelly Farrell and Meighan Farrell raised white flags before goals by Miriam Walsh and Quilty put 13 between them at the end.

In Group 2, All-Ireland champions Cork went on the rampage, where it finished 1-19 to 0-7 against Wexford at Páirc Uí Rinn.

The Rebels, without the retired Rena Buckley and Orla Cotter, who recently got married, set the tone right from the outset, moving six points to no score clear. Five different players were on target from the time Ashling Thompson pointed from the left flank, with Orla Cronin becoming the first multiple scorer by landing a free after 13 minutes.

Linda Bolger ended Wexford's drought, but Katrina Mackey brought her tally to three with a couple of fine scores to make it 0-9 to 0-3 at half-time.

It was a procession in the second half as Amy O'Connor, Cronin, Lauren Homan and Thompson had points before Mackey delivered the coup de grace with a goal, finishing with customary aplomb after good build-up play involving Thompson and O'Connor.

Dublin were one of the stories of last year's championship when they made the last four and they will be happy to have started with a 3-14 to 3-9 triumph over Offaly. Siobhán Kehoe (45) and Siobhán Flannery (free) exchanged points early on, but when Gráinne Quinn goaled after six minutes, Dublin moved six points ahead.

Sarah Harding goaled for Offaly at the end of the first quarter, but Kehoe found the net at the other end to maintain the home team's dominance. Two points from Eimear McCarthy and another from Kehoe made it 2-11 to 1-6 at the interval in favour of Dublin.

David Herity's outfit kept the foot on the throttle and a goal soon after the restart opened a 10-point margin. Once more though, Offaly showed commendable resolve and a couple of goals, including one from a penalty by Flannery, halved that gap with four minutes to go for Mike Wall's charges, but they could not make any further inroads.

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