Kilkenny stars as Galway stun Cork to end 10-year wait for glory
Galway 2-15 Cork 2-12 Camogie League Division 1 Final
Galway made a serious statement of intent at Semple Stadium as they followed up an easy semi-final victory over champions Kilkenny by beating All-Ireland victors Cork to claim their first Division 1 title in 10 years.
Cork had conceded just 41 points in five games in the competition but their packed defensive system was ripped to shreds in the first half, as Galway took them for 2-10, with only one point of that coming from a placed ball.
The Tribeswomen have had a tendency to fade in the second half of games this season, probably a product of their youth, and they repeated that in the second half, allowing an 11-point interval advantage to be whittled down to three by the final whistle.
"It was a poor show in the second half," said manager Tony Ward. "In seven weeks' time when we play Cork again (in the championship) we won't get away with that.
"We ran at Cork in the first half. They played our game in the second half. Thanks be to God we'd enough scored to keep in front of them. They're not All-Ireland champions for nothing and they proved in the second half they're a serious side."
Apart from a cagey opening, which saw the sides level at 0-2 each, Galway were dominant for most of the game.
Even when Cork came with two early second-half goals, they were a result of long clearances rather than well-crafted scores, and they didn't make any further leeway until scoring three late points.
Galway captain Niamh Kilkenny drove her side forward, while Niamh McGrath, her sister Orlaith and Ailish O'Reilly were on fire.
Niamh McGrath hand-passed to the net for Galway's first goal in the 10th minute but the score was all about Kilkenny, who won possession 50 metres out and beat three defenders before feeding the centre-forward, who showed good control and strength to finish.
O'Reilly effected two blocks to set up scores for herself and Orlaith McGrath and though the latter was forced off, Galway were undeterred as O'Reilly and Niamh McGrath extended the margin to seven.
Cork were heavily reliant on Orla Cotter for scores from frees and she cut the gap but O'Reilly set up Molly Dunne for a goal six minutes from half time and with Kilkenny adding a couple of wonderful points, Galway led by 2-10 to 0-5 at the break.
Cork needed a goal and they had one after 43 seconds when skipper Ashling Thompson fed Julia White, who in turn transferred to Katrina Mackey, and the All Star attacker blasted a ferocious shot to the net.
Amy O'Connor showed her predatory instincts when racing onto a long clearance from Thompson and flicking the sliotar past the advancing Susan Earner before slotting to an empty net.
Cotter converted a point and suddenly it was a five-point game.
McGrath settled Galway with a brace of frees and the margin was six until the last five minutes when subs Hannah Looney and Orla Cronin hit the target for Cork and Cotter landed her last free.
Scorers -Galway: N McGrath 1-7 (0-3fs, 0-1pen), N Kilkenny 0-4, M Dunne 1-0, O McGrath, A O'Reilly 0-2 each. Cork: O Cotter 0-8 (fs), K Mackey 1-1, A O'Connor 1-0, B Corkery, H Looney, O Cronin 0-1 each.
Cork: A Lee; L Callanan, L Treacy, L O'Sullivan; E O'Sullivan, P Mackey, M Cahalane; R Buckley, A Thompson; O Cotter, F Neville, J White; A O'Connor, B Corkery, K Mackey. Subs: G O'Connor for Neville (h-t), H Looney for Callanan (46), O Cronin for White (51).
Galway: S Earner; T Kenny, S Dervan, H Cooney; S Coen, S Healy, L Ryan; N Kilkenny, E Kilkelly; A Donohue, N McGrath, AM Starr; O McGrath, M Dunne, A O'Reilly. Subs: F Keeley for O McGrath (17), J Gill for Starr (54).
Ref: O Elliott (Antrim)