Quilty shines as second-half surge drives Cats back to final
Kilkenny 2-21 KTipperary 3-12
Moments after Kilkenny had accounted for a gallant but tiring Tipperary with a last-quarter score rush, Ann Downey was enjoying the luxury of looking forward to watching the second Liberty Insurance All-Ireland semi-final between Cork and Galway.
The competitor that Downey has always been would have relished the challenge of overturning the last two one-point final defeats by the Rebels.
Galway got the upper hand when the teams met in the league final last March however, and while Kilkenny had their noses in front at the final whistle in the subsequent championship group outing, the Tribeswomen will not fear the Cats.
"Semi-finals are for winning," said Downey. "We always knew Tipperary were going to put it up to us and they got off to a great start but in fairness to the girls, they stuck to the task, threw the ball over the bar any opportunity they got."
Michelle Quilty was player of the match after scoring 1-9 and Denise Gaule hit five points from play in the second half and a more advanced Anne Dalton brought her tally for the campaign to 6-11 from play with a peach of a goal.
But Downey emphasised the endeavours of others too. Katie Power created a number of chances but in the first half especially, when the Cats were second best for periods, Miriam Walsh's power and unselfishness created a number of scores, including Quilty's 21st-minute major.
Tipp settled immediately, with Orla O'Dwyer and Megan Ryan prominent in attack, and while there was an element of fortune to Aoife McGrath's free from outside the '65 going all the way to the Kilkenny net, their lead was deserved. Even after Quilty's goal, they hit the front once more thanks to the impressive Eibhlís McDonald, Cáit Devane and Niamh Treacy but when Dalton finished sumptuously after Caoimhe Bourke had saved brilliantly from Quilty to make it 2-9 to 1-8 at the break, it was a killer blow.
After that, Quilty, Power, Gaule and Kellyanne Doyle hit the target as the Cats moved 12 points clear, though Niamh Lillis' charges showed grit to plunder goals from O'Dwyer and Karen Kennedy.
The Tipp manager was understandably proud of her crew's efforts. "You can't take it from Kilkenny" Lillis stated. "They showed their class. We didn't die. We could have given up but we didn't."
SCORERS - Kilkenny: M Quilty 1-9 (5fs); D Gaule 0-6 (1f); A Dalton 1-1; K Power 0-2; E Keane, A Farrell, K Doyle 0-1 each. Tipperary: C Devane 0-6(fs); E McDonald 0-3; A McGrath (free), O O'Dwyer, K Kennedy 1-0 each; Megan Ryan, N Treacy, E Fryday 0-1 each.
KILKENNY - E Kavanagh; C Dormer, C Foley, G Walsh; D Tobin, C Phelan, E Keane; K Doyle, M Farrell; K Power, A Dalton, A Farrell; M Quilty, M Walsh, D Gaule. Subs: D Morrissey for Quilty (56).
TIPPERARY - C Bourke; C Quirke, J Bourke, E Loughman; A McGrath, K Kennedy, Mart Ryan; N Treacy, N Walsh; O O'Dwyer, Megan Ryan, E Fryday; C Devane, M Campion, E McDonald. Subs: C Purdue for Treacy (43), K Blair for Campion (56).
REF - J Dermody (Westmeath)